HoopsHype Jeffrey Kessler rumors

November 17, 2011 Updates

The players fired right back in their own letter, arguing that the decision should not stop U.S. district judge Paul Gardephe from dismissing the league’s lawsuit, saying the decision to disclaim interest was “uncertain until it was made.” “The hope is that the magnitude of the uncertainty and complexity will cause both sides to come back and put aside the legal arguments and get back to talking about (basketball related income) and system issues,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the Sports Law program at Tulane. “The easiest way to get these lawsuits to go away is to agree on terms of a new collective bargaining agreement.” Boston Herald

Despite advising their rank-and-file to save their money for more than two years, union officials have always been nervous about what will happen with players who love to live large and/or have to support many people, whether they're family or friends or both. As one executive has put it, "When the pay stops, will the splintering start?'' That's what owners hope will happen, at least according some in the NBA Players Association, because there's nothing quite like having players who need money. They're liable to start pushing for a deal, even a bad one, just to get back to work. New York Daily News

Greg Anthony, the former Knick, thinks there is a critical difference between the 430-odd NBA players who are locked out now and his group that was barred from the arenas by the owners in 1998-99. "The players are far more sophisticated now than we were,'' he told the Daily News recently. "And they're far better prepared.'' New York Daily News

November 16, 2011 Updates

The players' response was ordered by Nov. 23, but players' attorney Jeffrey Kessler responded Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, the league argued that the NBPA's decision to disclaim and take up its case with the NBA in federal court under antitrust law further supported the NBA's contention when it filed the lawsuit Aug. 2 that the players were going to do that all along. "On more than two dozen occasions ... the union has threatened to abandon collective bargaining and commence antitrust litigation to challenge the lockout," league attorneys wrote. "And the complaint alleges that the union's threats of antitrust litigation are having a direct, immediate and harmful effect on the parties' ability to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement." CBSSports.com

November 15, 2011 Updates

After player representatives for 28 of the 30 teams, and about two dozen more players, voted unanimously to file a disclaimer of interest and hire attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and David Boies to represent them in a class-action suit, Evans said the union had little choice but to take that route. “We’ve literally compromised; we’ve literally bargained in good faith and for that not to be good enough, it’s inexcusable,” he said. “We were left with no options.” Washington Post

It preserved Hunter’s power, his standing with the attorneys, Jeffrey Kessler and David Boies. No one does self-preservation like Hunter. When I asked executive committee member Keyon Dooling why the union hadn’t done this in July, when it was already known the NBA would never negotiate a favorable deal with the union, he couldn’t answer the question. These were the same player reps Hunter convinced to spend hundreds of thousands of the union’s dollars – who knows, maybe more – on legal fees to chase an unfair labor practice case against the NBA. Forget decertification, Hunter told the agents and players. They could file that expensive, time-consuming grievance with the National Labor Relations Board and get back on the floor. The NLRB hasn’t ruled on the case, and never will because Hunter’s disclaimer means the filing has to be dropped. Yahoo! Sports

November 14, 2011 Updates

The NFLPA never got an ultimate ruling on whether the lockout or disclaimer were legal, but instead got a narrow ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the federal district court did not have the authority to lift the lockout. "I felt the combination of Boies and Kessler, from my perspective, would be an unbeatable team," Hunter said. "... The players arrived at that conclusion on their own." CBSSports.com

More than 50 players met for more than three hours, first going over the latest proposal from the league, then hearing what their legal options were. The one that was chosen, a disclaimer of interest, immediately removed the National Basketball Players Association as the bargaining representative for the players, technically making them non-unionized. “The guys were pretty docile and placid until that point,” said Billy Hunter, who retains his position as the de facto leader of the players — although their lead representatives going forward will be attorneys Boies and Jeffrey Kessler. “The players felt it was more like a surrender than getting a deal.” SheridanHoops

November 9, 2011 Updates

Jeff Zillgitt: After apology to NBA commish David Stern, NBPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler will be at today's meeting with NBA, person w/info said. Twitter

Kessler, the union's lead negotiator and the lockout's chief destabilizer, need not show up at that meeting Wednesday. He needs to be fired. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” Kessler told me on the phone Wednesday, even as the league and union were arranging the bargaining session. “But anybody who actually knows what my role has been in these and other negotiations, it has been to work and strive towards a deal. That’s what I’ve always done and that’s what I’ll continue to do.” CBSSports.com

But all the evidence is to the contrary, and Kessler’s apologies Wednesday – released individually to various news outlets as opposed to en masse from the NBPA – didn’t change that. “The comments that I made to the Washington Post took place late Monday night after a very long day,” Kessler said. “I look back on those comments as reported and I realize my choice of words was inappropriate. I am sorry about that. I intend to call commissioner Stern and apologize for my inappropriate choice of words. “I made these comments as a passionate advocate for the players, but I can understand that they can be misinterpreted and viewed as being offensive,” Kessler said. “At this point, we need to put any distractions aside and work to try to get a deal to save the NBA season.” CBSSports.com

Perfect advice, to put distractions aside – starting with Kessler. The NBPA should take Kessler’s advice and put him aside “I did not intend to make any statement that would be interpreted as suggesting any type of racial issue,” Kessler said. “I don’t even remember if the comments were on the record or off the record, but in any event, my use of those words in that context was inappropriate.” CBSSports.com

Kessler is right: The players can't afford any more distractions that could imperil this deal. Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic that the union will take my advice and kick Kessler to the curb, the way he was kicked to the curb late in the NFL negotiations. The union, to its discredit, decided not to issue its own apology for Kessler's offensive comments. When I asked Kessler if he had any intentions of stepping aside, he said, “Absolutely not. If you knew the real dynamics in the negotiating room, you wouldn’t say that.” But that doesn't change the fact that it's time for Dr. Doom to go. CBSSports.com

Magic Johnson said it’s “ridiculous” to suggest that David Stern is racist, saying it’s OK to disagree with the NBA commissioner but that you “can’t attack the man and what he stands for.” Johnson was responding to comments made by attorney Jeffrey Kessler, representing the NBA players’ association, who told the Washington Post that owners are treating players like “plantation workers” during the ongoing lockout. Washington Times

But Johnson said Stern has always done right by players, noting the number of blacks such himself, Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas who have followed their Hall of Fame playing careers by going into management or ownership positions. “This league is more diverse than any other league and has more minorities in powerful positions than any other league,” Johnson said during a phone interview. “That’s all about David Stern and his vision and what he wanted to do. He make sure minorities had high-ranking positions from the league office all the way down to coaches and front office people.” Washington Times

NBA union attorney Jeffrey Kessler has apologized for saying that owners are treating players "like plantation workers," adding that he doesn't want to become a distraction during the tense negotiations. "The comments that I made in The Washington Post took place in an interview late at night Monday after a very long day," Kessler said in a statement. "Looking back, the words that I used were inappropriate; I did not intend to offend. I was merely passionately advocating for the players." ESPN.com

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