NBA Lockout: Players' Union Could Turn To Courts After Ultimatum

During the 2010-11 regular season, players' union director Billy Hunter visited each team to talk to his constituents about the likelihood and ramifications of an NBA lockout. As a part of that tour, Hunter had players vote on whether to authorize the union's leadership to disclaim interest if the lockout got sticky, which would remove the organization's collective bargaining powers and open up the NBA to anti-trust litigation.

At the time of the votes, it was reported that players were voting to authorize decertification. It turns out that those were instead votes for a disclaimer, which is the faster but less frightening (for the league) version of decertification. Law professor Gabe Feldman tells CBS Sports' Ken Berger that by disclaiming interest in the union, Hunter would be forging a dangerous path.

The biggest legal benefit to dissolving the union through a disclaimer would be that, once the union was transformed into a trade association, the players could almost immediately file an anti-trust lawsuit against the league -- which in theory would open the owners to not only the financial losses of a canceled season, but also anti-trust damages. In all likelihood, the players would file their action in the 9th Circuit in California, where more employee-favorable law exists. Since the league already has pre-emptively sued in the employer-friendly 2nd Circuit in New York, a messy and potentially lengthy jurisdictional battle would then unfold.

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