Philadelphia, PA – Boom goes the dynamite.
The NBA players rebuffed David Stern's latest ultimatum and have decided to file a notice of disclaimer to dissolve the NBPA. From there, an anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA is expected, a move that would virtually assure the entire 2011-12 season would be wiped out.
The players will be seeking a summary judgement against NBA for 'unlawful lockout.'
"We're prepared to file this antitrust action against the NBA," union executive director Billy Hunter said. "That's the best situation where players can get their due process."
A notice of disclaimer enabled the union to tell the NBA that it is no longer representing the players during collective bargaining. It's not a decertification where the players would vote to dissolve the union, a key difference since that would take up to 45 days and would require the blessing of the National Labor Relations Board.
Most also feel that many of the rank-and-file NBA players, the so-called ham- and-eggers or journeyman would have accepted the deal on the table and the union would never get enough votes for decertification.
"This is the best decision for the players," union president Derek Fisher said. "I want to reiterate that point, that a lot of individual players have a lot of things personally at stake in terms of their careers and where they stand. And right now they feel it's important - we all feel it's important to all our players, not just the ones in this room, but our entire group - that we not only try to get a deal done for today but for the body of NBA players that will come into this league over the next decade and beyond."
Fisher claimed the decision was unanimous but reports surfaced earlier that at least two teams would vote to approve the deal if it actually got to them.
The plan on the table would have had the NBA tipping off a revised 72-game schedule on December 15. The offer included a split of basketball-related income between 49 and 51 percent, depending on revenue projections from the league.
That deal also came packaged with a threat, however. Stern promised that the next proposal from the owners would be far worse, a disaster for the players that would include 47 percent of BRI with a hockey-like flex salary cap.
Stern urged the players to take the deal on the table directly on Sunday night, posting a memo he sent to the players at NBA.com and also embarking on a social media blitz that included taking questions on Twitter and posting a video on YouTube.
Whether you think the players are right or wrong, one thing is certain -- the NBPA flashed a backbone that is has historically lacked over the years. Of course that will likely mean little to the hordes of casual observers that jumped on board with the product during last year's captivating season.
This is also the tact that the league's so-called super agents pleaded Hunter to take back in July when it became clear just how many rollbacks the owners were seeking.
"If they were going to do it, they should have done it a long time ago," Stern said when being interviewed after the players' decision.
You can't help getting the feeling that the players were ruled by emotion today and not thinking clearly. If fact like most protesters, it seems like the loudest were heard, not necessarily the majority and the 2011-12 season hangs in the balance.
"They (the union) seem hell bent on self-destruction," Stern said. "It looks like the 2011-12 season is really in jeopardy. If I were a player, one of 450, I would wonder what it is Billy Hunter just did.
Upping the rhetoric even further, Stern continued:
"This sham of magically taking the union and become something else is just a big charade. Irresponsible, given the timing. Lots of paychecks will be missed. The union decided that the proposal would not be submitted to membership. We're about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA."
As for the fans -- They're likely set to file their own disclaimer -- one that will surely involve a lack of interest and cut the $4 billion dollar pie that the millionaires are fighting the billionaires over rather significantly.