In the wake of what we used to call the National Basketball Players Association "unanimously" rejecting the NBA's latest collective bargaining agreement offer on Monday, we've heard quite a bit from various players who weren't exactly on board with the work of their respective team representatives. Free agent Glen Davis and Cleveland Cavalier Samardo Samuels quickly went on record to kvetch about supposedly being left out of the loop, and Kevin Martin echoed my (admittedly, simplistic) thoughts about how the NBPA needed to agree before things got a lot worse for the players.
Of course, it tends to be hard for player reps to get a hold of members of their constituency if their phone numbers aren't up to date. Here's ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin's revelation from early on Wednesday:
"[Los Angeles Lakers players rep Shannon] Brown said that the Players' Association was vigilant in sending out a steady stream of emails to its constituents as developments in negotiations occurred. He said he knew of player reps trying to reach out to their teammates only to find the phone number they were provided with had been changed or disconnected."
Remember, the teams are out of the loop here. So it isn't as if player reps can contact a team's front office and minutes later acquire a list of updated cell and/or home phone numbers. As has been mentioned quite a bit during this lockout, players aren't paid during the summertime anyway, so disappearing and having no real role in following labor negotiations wouldn't have felt out of the norm to players that don't really have much to do with teams or teammates during the summer months in typical offseasons.
And for those still smarting from a lack of an agreement, especially with the possibility that a full player vote could have resulted in the majority needed to accept the NBA's terms, I'd encourage you to re-read Eric Freeman's take on the role of the player representative from Monday (along with Dan Devine's expert takedown of Davis and Samuels), especially this passage from Eric:
The difference is that unions must appear to act in solidarity if they want any semblance of leverage, so a vote that shows a 60/40 split between membership stands to lose bargaining power now and in the future. Even if a majority had accepted this deal -- which seems unlikely given that every team rep is said to have supported decertification -- that majority needed to be overwhelming to avoid future union in-fighting and general disarray. A bad labor deal is problematic enough -- it's even worse if that bad deal gives the union no leverage six years from now when they negotiate the next agreement.
For the players to give up so many concessions over the course of one labor negotiation, negotiations that sometimes result in middling trench warfare where the end result barely looks any different than the start despite all the chaos and spent mortar shells, is pretty unprecedented. And while NBA players (and owners, with all those terrible signings) aren't exactly known for their penny-foolish and pound-wise ways, the former NBPA has to be thinking about the precedent set for labor negotiations in 2017 or 2021.
"It's not hard for people to get the information," Brown said. "It's all about if they really, really want it or not." [...]
"It wasn't like things were done behind anybody's back," Brown said. "Everybody knew and know what's going on at all times because the letters that were sent out."
You don't need to be a player with quick access to Brown or Derek Fisher or any number of team reps. All you really need, as this lockout drones on, is an Internet connection on your computer and a Twitter account.
Every single bit of information is online, right down to the NBA's supposed final offer, and every scribe, analyst, noted player and league office spokesperson has been tweeting away since July with news about every small step in the wrong direction this labor negotiation takes. Everything is out there, so for any player to try to blame others for being misinformed is a cop-out at absolute best.
And it's irresponsible, at worst.
We can understand the lockout fatigue. We can understand not wanting to open every envelope and/or emails full of bad news. We can't understand the sense of security that comes from already having made a few million in your career before November and December paychecks lapse, but we can try. If you want to be ill-informed about something you find distasteful -- like a whole lot of us tend to do with the yearly sordid "trial of the century" cable TV gets to bleat on endlessly about -- this is your choice.
Just don't blame the leadership, when it can't even get you on the phone.
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