November 17, 2011
To no one's surprise, both the NBA and NBPA have hired very impressive lawyers to represent them in their coming legal battles. New union counsel David Boies is one of the most respected lawyers in the nation. League lawyer Paul Clement isn't too shabby, either. They're the best that $500-an-hour can buy.
By virtue of their reputations, these attorneys have also been involved in a number of high-profile cases over the past decade or so. In fact, in some instances they've even argued against each other. Henry Abbott noted a particularly important one at TrueHoop:
(Interestingly, there's a lawyer vs. lawyer gay marriage subtext to this case. Boies has argued prominently for the right of gay and lesbian people to marry. The NBA's outside council Paul Clement is not just on the other side of that issue, but quit his job earlier this year strictly to keep on a case fighting to uphold a ban on gay marriage.)
As Henry says, this story is more an interesting note than some kind of complicated backstory to the NBA labor case. It's not as if Boies and Clement are going to make thinly veiled arguments during proceedings about not fostering hate against athletes who love each other or the importance of protecting the sanctity of the owners' rights to profits.
That said, the two lawyers' political leanings do provide an important context to these negotiations. Clement still holds the fundamentally conservative position, while Boies occupies the liberal one. It's not possible to shoehorn one political issue into the other, but there is a general connection between them. Whichever side you're on in the gay marriage battle probably has some connection to your view on the lockout, too.