Kobe Bryant Urges NBA Players to ‘Stay United’ in Labor Fight

by August 18, 2011

Kobe Bryant made an impassioned plea to fellow NBAers, urging them to stand behind their union as they continue their interminable battle with team owners. From CBS Sports: “Before a star-studded audience of about 75 players in Los Angeles Tuesday, Bryant was ‘up front’ and ‘deliberate’ in a speech in which he urged players to maintain solidarity and ‘stand behind the union’ during the lockout, according to a person who was in attendance. Bryant and Paul Pierce told players Tuesday it was important for them to ‘remain united’ in the face of a lockout that has dragged well into its second month with only one full-scale bargaining session, the person who attended the meeting said … Contacted for comment on the player meetings, union chief Billy Hunter said he also briefed a contingent of about 20 agents on the status of negotiations Tuesday before traveling to Las Vegas, where he was meeting with about 35 players Wednesday. Hunter also will meet with players next week in Houston, Chicago and New York. ‘Our message is that there’ve been several proposals back and forth, and the last proposal by the NBA would be a giveback of $8 billion over 10 years,’ Hunter told CBSSports.com. ‘The players understand and they’re supportive.’ Hunter said there was a ‘divergence of opinion’ among the agents about the National Basketball Players Association’s decision not to disclaim interest in representing the players – and the players’ decision not to decertify. Some high-profile agents have clamored for decertification, which would send the dispute to the federal court system under antitrust law. Hunter has so far resisted, preferring to explore the possibly more expeditious path to an injunction lifting the lockout, which could result if the union is successful in getting the National Labor Relations Board to issue an unfair labor practices complaint against the NBA.”