NBA Lockout: David Stern, Union Lawyer Jeffrey Kessler Trade Barbs

That commissioner David Stern and players' union outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler don't get along is no secret. Stern has mentioned Kessler by name several times during NBA lockout media appearances (including on SportsCenter back in early August), and Kessler's name is littered throughout the league's lawsuit seeking to block union decertification. It's personal between them.

If that wasn't evident, an enterprising story from the Washington Post's Amy Shipley should make it so.

"To present [the NBA's deal] in the context of ‘take it or leave it,' in our view, that is not good faith," Kessler, who also represented the NFL players in their labor dispute with the NFL, said in a telephone interview Monday night. "Instead of treating the players like partners, they're treating them like plantation workers."

Stern responded with some more gasoline for the fire Kessler started.

"Kessler's agenda is always to inflame and not to make a deal," Stern said, "even if it means injecting race and thereby insulting his own clients. . . . He has been the single most divisive force in our negotiations and it doesn't surprise me he would rant and not talk about specifics. Kessler's conduct is routinely despicable."

The only positive is that it's Kessler, not Billy Hunter or Derek Fisher. Those are the guys Stern really has to deal with going forward.

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