Billy Hunter: Owners Not Negotiating in Good Faith

by October 14, 2011

Now that games have been cancelled — and the threat of more games getting axed looming above everything — the NBA and the union are taking direct shots at one another through the media. According to union director Billy Hunter, the League’s owners are holding up an otherwise workable deal for both sides. From Yahoo! Sports: “Q: Do you think both sides can come to an agreement by Tuesday or is it wishful thinking? Hunter: ‘It’s not an issue of time. It’s an issue of will. If you are in a room and you want to make a deal and there are three major issues that are holding you up, if you can come to a compromise on those three areas than you have a makings of a deal. It’s not a nature of time. We can go in and do a deal if they want to go in and do a deal. We can do a deal in an hour, two hours if we can agree to the major terms. And after that you got to work on everything else. Everything else will fall in place.’ Q: What has been the most frustrating part of negotiations? Hunter: ‘I don’t think [the owners] are negotiating in good faith. That’s what’s frustrating. David Stern told me three years ago – and I keep reiterating that because people keep pulling up their cup on it – that they were going to lock out [the players] in order to get what it was they wanted. And what he’s done is done that. [Stern] said he was going to lock out [the players] and his owners were prepared to lock out to get what they wanted. It’s driven pretty much by the small-market teams. They actually want revenue sharing in the big markets, but the big markets have said, ‘OK we’ll give revenue conditioned upon you getting the deal in place that we think has to be there because we don’t want to go into our pockets as much as we may have to. We think you should get it off the backs of the players.’ So that’s what he’s done. He’s stated an extreme position from the get go and he’s negotiated that way. So here we are. We’ve been negotiating for almost three years, and here we are at the 12th hour when all of the sudden they make a slight move. But then on top of that, they then decide that they want a hard cap. So then when you get close to the economics of the number, then they get close to the system. And they know that the system is very important. If we give on the economics, we are not going to give on the system. And so all of the sudden you reach a possible agreement on the economics and now the system becomes a problem. So it’s like a moving target. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating because the whole intent and purpose and whole strategy has been to break the resolve of the players. [Washington Wizards owner] Ted Leonsis – go look at some of his quotes. Leonsis said that David Stern promised them they were going to get a system like the NHL, and the only way they can get that system is to break the players. That’s what they’ve done. There is nothing complex about what is going on. It is as clear as the nose on my face. I keep calling them out on that, but people don’t write about that.'”