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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

NBPA should listen to the agents

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There are a lot of things more important to me than the current labor dispute between the NBA owners and the players. I worry much more about a child going to bed at night hungry in Indianapolis than whether or not there will be a salary cap for players.

I tend to think about the need to strengthen IPS and the provision of quality health care for all a lot more than I do how to split up the multibillion dollar pie amongst those involved in this business squabble.

Heck, there is even the selfish side of me who wonders how I will pay the mortgage and buy dog food. But I love the NBA more than any other team sport and as this lockout continues, it becomes more clear to me than ever what the players need to do to get this deal done. Simply bring in the big name agents that represent the lions share of the rank and file and allow them to do what they do best – NEGOTIATE.

Now I realize the National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Billy Hunter would sigh at the notion of such, as after all, he himself is a negotiator, and also has several high powered, expensive lawyers at his beckon as well. Regardless, the fact of the matter here is the NBPA needs a faction it currently does not possess, a team of master negotiators that have literally been beating the owners senseless regarding player contracts for years now. Yes I am talking about the big guns (just to name a few) like David Falk, Arn Tellem, Leon Rose and Bill Duffy. These guys are masters at taking the owners by the ear and procuring huge contracts for their clientele, and the NBA is simply no match for them in terms of negotiations. Do you realize how many marginal players are now multimillionaires as a result of their collective efforts? There is no one the NBA could bring to the table to combat their collective experience and I can only begin to think how NBA Commissioner David Stern would cringe if he had to look across the table at the aforementioned for a lengthy session behind closed doors.

I am not saying there aren’t a number of bright articulate people in the NBPA camp representing the players, and indeed many of the players are capable themselves of expressing their concerns as well. However, this is business warfare and no place for the meek. While some will shudder at the idea of the agents making even more money off their representation for collective bargaining, I would argue that you do not go to war against the bazooka of the NBA with a water gun, and right now that is exactly what the NBPA is doing.

These negotiations will set the tone as well as the business model for the players for many years to come. This is about not only about receiving a fair share of basketball related income, but also fostering a deal that will allow for financial protection down the road when the economic factors of the business in which they are within shift even further in favor of the owners.

Recently many of the super agents I have mentioned drafted a letter to their clients highlighting many of the key points for a new deal. So far there has been no movement to enlist their services. Stern has already canceled training camps and the entire preseason, and will soon slice off a portion of the regular season in hopes of pinning the NBPA in the corner even further.

It is clear he has the total support of the owners he represents and they collectively are a unified front that is rock solid. Conversely, they have never had to combat a force that these agents comprise, and I predict it would not be long before a new deal is finalized if the players would simply join forces with them.

While everything certainly is negotiable, not everyone is equal as a negotiator.

The NBPA will eventually learn this, but will it be in time to save the season?

Danny Bridges, who thinks the entire NBA season will be canceled, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.

 

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