The NBA labor negotiations reached a boiling point on Monday when it was announced that the players would reject the owners’ latest offer and disband the union.
Most following the situation over the last few months have taken to calling what the players committed to “the nuclear option.”
“We’re prepared to file this antitrust action against the NBA,” union executive director Billy Hunter told reporters. “That’s the best situation where players can get their due process.”
The players were said to have unanimously agreed on this decision, though privately some big name stars are disputing that notion.
“This is the best decision for the players,” union President Derek Fisher said. “I want to reiterate that point, that a lot of individual players have a lot of things personally at stake in terms of their careers and where they stand. And right now they feel it’s important—we all feel it’s important to all our players, not just the ones in this room, but our entire group—that we not only try to get a deal done for today but for the body of NBA players that will come into this league over the next decade and beyond.”
League commissioner David Stern, who has essentially served as the owner mouthpiece throughout negotiations, was clearly unhappy with what unfolded.
“It looks like the 2011-12 season is really in jeopardy,” Stern said in an interview with ESPN. “It’s just a big charade. To do it now, the union is ratcheting up I guess to see if they can scare the NBA owners or something. That’s not happening.”
“Mr. [Jeffrey] Kessler got his way, and we’re about to go into the nuclear winter of the NBA,” he told ESPN. “If I were a player … I would be wondering what it is that Billy Hunter just did.”
According to Hunter, the NBPA filed a “notice of disclaimer” with Stern’s office an hour prior to the news conference starting.
“This deal could have been done. It should have been done,” Hunter said. “We’ve given and given and given, and they got to the place where they just reached for too much and the players decided to push back.”
Check out the complete press conference below.