NBA Commissioner David Stern has issued the following statement after the players union formally rejected the owners’ latest proposal that would have ended the current NBA lockout:
“At a bargaining session in February 2010, Jeffrey Kessler, counsel for the union, threatened that the players would abandon the collective bargaining process and start an antitrust lawsuit against our teams if they did not get a bargaining resolution that was acceptable to them.
“In anticipation of this day, the NBA filed an unfair labor practice charge before the National Labor Relations Board asserting that, by virtue of its continued threats, the union was not bargaining in good faith. We also began a litigation in federal court in anticipation of this same bargaining tactic.
“The NBA has negotiated in good faith throughout the collective bargaining process, but — because our revised bargaining proposal was not to its liking – the union has decided to make good on Mr. Kessler’s threat.
“There will ultimately be a new collective bargaining agreement, but the 2011-12 season is now in jeopardy.”
Thankfully, the statement did not include an outright cancellation of the entire 2011-12 season immediately. But the threat of it is made crystal clear by Stern, who attempted to persuade the players union over the weekend to accept the offer. Both sides were already duking it out in court last month over the legality of the NBA lockout, which Stern alludes to, and it will be matter of days until the battle over the almighty NBA dollars moves away from marathon negotiation sessions in New York hotels to the courts, which will only serve to delay finalizing a new collective bargaining agreement that both sides can agree on.