Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 at 8:00 am  |  39 responses

Billy Hunter and David Stern Are Ready to Battle

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

In many ways, the battle began a long time ago, and things will only get worse (and bloodier) from here on out.

If anyone still had illusions about the NBA not facing a lockout this summer, Yahoo! has a story to steer you in the right, wholly depressing direction.

Check out the stunning moment that took place in Los Angeles, during All-Star weekend, in front of the League’s biggest stars.

NBPA executive directory Billy Hunter and Commissioner David Stern went head-to-head:

And then he started to tell them he had thought long and hard about the way Oscar Robertson and Jerry West staged a protest at the 1964 All-Star Game, threatening a boycott until they had leveraged the league into the most rudimentary of medical benefits and pension contributions. Yes, Hunter had been thinking long and hard, losing sleep over the possibility of declaring an uprising of his own … In the end, Hunter stopped short, insisting the All-Stars had an obligation to play the game, but the message to the players was unmistakable: Hunter wouldn’t back down to Stern, and maybe even had the ability to rattle him, the way the commissioner and owners had been trying to unnerve the players.

So livid, Stern would barely even look at Hunter when Hunter handed him the microphone. And soon, Stern started reciting his résumé, his decades of labor fights and legal battles in the NBA. Here’s how much the NBA was worth and here’s where I’ve brought it, he said. Everyone could see the anger rising within him, but no one expected the words that tumbled out of his mouth. Stern told the room he knows where “the bodies are buried” in the NBA, witnesses recounted, because he had buried some of them himself. “It was shocking,” Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose said. “I was taking off my gear, and when he said that, I just stopped and thought, ‘Whoa …’ I couldn’t believe that he said it.” Rose wasn’t alone. Said another All-Star in the room, “I was shocked … just shocked.”

Hunter, who seems to think his best strategy is to go public with his (and the players’ side) of the story, continues to insist that owners are lying when it comes to the depth of their financial woes.

Unfortunately, whoever emerges as the winner in this epic fight, in the end, the biggest losers will likely be fans of the NBA.

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    u damnnn right cause I don’t know what I will do everyday without my basketball dose.

  • David.P

    I think a long nightmare is about to commence come summer. And all we may will be able to do is hope and pray. May this thing end before is blows up in everyone’s face (i.e canceled season).

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4royOLtvmQ IAMORANGE4EVER

    Guess what?! I got a FEVER! And the only prescription is more COWBELL!

  • JTaylor21

    Ain’t this a b*tch. Looks like the same thing that happened to the NFL is going to happen to the L.

  • MikeC.

    @orange – stick with me babies, and I’ll have you wearing gold-plated diapers.

  • Zabba

    F**kin’ greedy owners. Yeah, ballplayers are paid millions but that’s capitalism at work. Don’t like it, get the eff out of here. But the owners? Come on, fans don’t fill in the arena to see Mark Cuban play.

  • C.B

    i dont get what david stern means by saying that buried stuff..can someone explain?

  • Nella

    I find it weird Woj always has anonymous sources with crazy leads, yet the one player he identifies in detail here is D-Rose. Interesting. Maybe D-Rose doesn’t care, but I find that weird.

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    Its clear what Stern wants….It pains me to say it be we’re going to have, for however brief, and NBA lockout…. :(

  • Anonymosdef

    He means that he knows all the leagues dirty secrets because he helped make/keep them secret and he’s not so slyly implying to the players “do what I say or your secrets wont be so secret anymore” see…secret

  • Yesse

    I can’t wait for the lockout. Finally i can see Nba players play in europe and see how they fit in there. If there truly comes a lockout, i do not want to miss it.

  • GreenBall

    Co.sign Mub.
    Stern, owners and players – Just fix it!! You will lose fans with this BS!

  • dsleepy

    i hate david stern.

  • sounddust

    War. War never changes.

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    Two thoughts: 1) I don’t think Stern would ever do anything to permanently damage his brand. Tarnishing the players too badly will lose fans. Stern HATES losing $$$. 2) I read some of Hunter’s quotes over at SI.com yesterday. For some reason he came off as slightly intimidated by Stern’s tough rhetoric; at least to me he did. I have a feeling the players are going to cave quicker than we all think. I hope they don’t give up too much.

  • http://sfdjklf.com Jukai

    David Stern is one of the scariest people in the world.

  • el_larsen

    i m depressed.

  • bull22

    this is ridiculous that david stern has this short-man syndrome and we need to rename him david gotti. both the owners and the league need to make concessions, they should be grateful that in this economy that people still want to watch this game. this game number one belongs to the fan and then its the players and owners!

  • odp

    i dont even know what that means

  • http://slamonline.com zoom

    No one really cares about the fans, least of all the owners. They make tickets and authentic merchandise nearly unaffordable for the average fan and expect the public to empathize with them.


    @MikeC: Coming from you, that means a lot. lol


    Fellas, I like what I’m hearing. Really, explore the space.

  • Jeff

    As bad is this all sounds/looks, I think Stern will do everything in his power to avoid a lockout.

  • http://nobulljive.com Enigmatic

    Stern is a scary dude.
    As a kid I thought he was a cool, cheerful cat.

  • http://www.slamonline.com peter

    The worst part of it all, is any salary reduction for the players won’t be passed on to the fans. I.e. ticket prices will still be astronomical (I live in NYC) regardless. Players should get paid less, tickets should cost less, owners should break even.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Some of y’all know me…
    Shout out to the Illuminati.

  • matt


  • harlem_world

    Why not just save the inevitable drama? In any real negotiation both sides concede a little bit to end up in a mutually acceptable middle ground. The owners and league are not as broke as they say and the players are generally overpaid (what up Mike Conley). If both sides concede a little, then we can move forward with a new deal that still keeps players paid at the top of pro sports (on average) while the owners turn profits. I also feel the owners who are not making their margins need to step their game up. There are alot of profitable franchises in the league, if your market isn’t as strong as NY or LA, step up your hustle and marketing game and make sure you’re doing more with the market you have. Owners and Stern, to me, need to step their game up.

  • Josh

    Stern is so gangsta. My favorite league commish.

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    I think a lot of Billy Hunter’s comments are correct – nobody forced the Hawks to overpay Joe Johnson or Orlando or Washington to over pay Lewis and Arenas. Or selling local TV rights to tiny stations like Charlotte did? Or expecting to make money is a broken down arena in a small market like Sacramento? Or buying teams with a history of chaos in their culture for $400 million like Golden State? Those are the real financial decisions that are losing teams money, not the profit share the players have been getting (and which they have offered to reduce).

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    What the hell does he mean by “bodies”?

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    I’ve always wondered, even on this site, why owners pay these guys this money, then complain later. Then it is like the owners don’t know what is hot or cold when it comes to some of these players’ contracts.
    It’s Jim McClvaine’s fault. lol

  • sutphin

    Co-sign Ugh 100,000 times. Nobody forced the owners to give huge contracts to underacheivers. Nobody forced Hornets owners to move the team to a city already struggling, and so on and so forth. The owners got themselves into financial messes and they want the players and fans to pay for it.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    ^People who’s career he destroyed.

  • MikeC.

    David Stern puts his pants on, just like the rest of us, one leg a time. Except, once his pants are on, he breaks unions.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Some of these people need to walk a day in a working class shoes, then they wouldn’t be crying over millions while making millions. Greed makes the world go round.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Also if a player wants to go straight to the NBA, they should be able too. If they go to College they must do two years. BOOK IT!!

  • http://slamonline.com Ugh

    Also, I’ve always been suspect on the terms of success for owners. I have no doubt at all that there are owners in the league who couldn’t care less if their team won or lost as long as it makes money and pursuing a hard cap and reducing contract length will assist that no matter the cost to players or wins. My case in point is the Suns and the Knicks – D’Antoni can’t win in the postseason but has an exciting and highlight reel coaching style, the players are often overpaid seat fillers, in the Suns case cost-cutting has always come before securing talent and in the Knicks case celebrity and name has come before proven ability (although nothing explains Eddy Curry). Owners like those guys would love a hard cap to limit expenditure while keeping the same stars.

  • hoodsnake

    Sad that it has to come to this but let the NBPA boycott the playoffs so that the big TV bosses breath down Sterns neck!