Former Union Leader Questions Players’ Strategy

On Monday, the players consolidated their lawsuit and filed it in federal court in Minneapolis, Minn. Another round of jabs and legal posturing ensued that would give any normal fan a headache and a bout with depression in realizing that the season is probably not going to happen.

Plain and simple, it sucks. It sucks for everyone from the players to the ticket vendors and concession workers at the arenas to the fans. Nobody likes talking about labor strife when it comes to millionaires and billionaires. Most people would still blame the players for the work stoppage even if it actually is not their fault or if there were blame to go around (there is definitely that).

Even those that follow the league and this lockout pretty closely would say the players mismanaged this situation and moved to disclaim interest and into the courts far too late — at least to save a full regular season. It is frustrating to watch.

So imagine how former NBPA executive director Charles Grantham feels about it. He has been in those trenches and knows the challenges that Billy Hunter and the players are going through first hand. And Grantham disagrees with the general strategy the union has taken as the season has slowly slipped away.

“Quite frankly, I’ve always taken a position that I thought the job of the union was to keep the players working, and that the amount of loss that would be represented here would be astronomical for those that play and the people who work in the system,” Grantham told The Washington Post’s Michael Lee. “I think at a certain point, it became emotional and it kind of got off the track, while they were close to a deal. They should’ve made one.

“Don’t confuse resolve with good judgment. Hockey players had good resolve [in 2004]. No one can say how strong the kids were for standing up for what they believed in, but they made the wrong judgment. You’ve got to make the right judgment here. And once the fight is over, you get back to work and you live another day.”

Those are strong words from a former union head. A strategy like that certainly means the players lose leverage as the owners can wait for the cancellation of games to get what they want. But, at the same time, it likely would mean the players get back on the court quicker with a bad deal, but a better deal than what could come should the disclaimer of interest strategy fail.

If this were just about business and making a stand on business issues, Grantham seems to be saying the players have every right to make their stand. But, as Bill Simmons pointed out this past weekend on Grantland, things got personal and good business judgment was lost somewhere on the road to where we are now.

There is a divide now that does not seem to be broken soon. The lawsuit is moving forward and neither side seems eager to get to the negotiating table any time soon.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily