NBA Commissioner David Stern has put his cards on the table as the lockout continues to affect the season. Stern chucked the ball in the court belonging to the player’s on the 133rd day of the work stoppage by asking them what they’re going to do. It comes after owners put a final offer on the table that union representatives will meet to discuss on Monday or Tuesday. It’s safe to say Union executive director Billy Hunter wasn’t particularly moved by the offer. He told Sports Illustrated: “It’s not the greatest proposal in the world, but I have an obligation to at least present it to our membership. So that’s what we’re going to do.”
This final offer would salvage a 72-game season, starting December 15, and you’d even get the playoffs and Finals starting a week later than normal. On the flip side players will surrender 12% of their salaries for the time lost. It really is down to which basket the players want to put their balls in. There has been feverish rumors that they will opt for decertification, with around 200 players ready to sign a petition in favor. That would take another 45 days to process. It leaves players with the gamble decertification brings or agreeing to a deal that Stern says is the best they’re going to get.
To put it simply, decertification would remove the union’s ability to negotiate on behalf of the players. They’d become independent employees of the teams and lose union protections. The players taking a class action anti-trust lawsuit out against the league may follow and a season cancellation would be a mere formality.
None of it makes the situation any brighter for the sports books and gambling industry that haven’t been able to take bets on what is a huge earner for them. NHL can only fill the void to a certain extent and who knows how bad things would be if the NFL had decided to keep going with the lockout. As it is they didn’t and with their season on course there’s every chance the NBA might see a 72-game season. That looks bleaker as more days tick by.