Law & OrderNBA: Union Rejects Deal, Will Move to Dissolve

Law & OrderNBA: Union Rejects Deal, Will Move to Dissolve

The last time the NBA had a work stoppage, the deal to resume play wasn't struck until January of that year—a full three months into what would have been the normal season. As the date currently reads November 14, it remains early to go into full-on panic mode.

Wait, you mean the union actually wants to decertify?

Alright, nevermind. Forget it. We're all screwed.

If you were wondering what exactly defined "worst case scenario" when it comes to the NBA's ongoing lockout...well, here you go. This is honestly like the NFL's bastard little brother of labor strife. Whereas the NFLPA filed for legal relief even before their CBA expired and the league as a whole resolved its labor dispute after just 136 days, the NBA players are opting to file suit on day No. 137 of their own lockout. See, we're hitting a lot of the same notes, but at literally all of the wrong times.

Since we last left you with the idea that the clock was ticking down on the players' opportunity to keep these negotiations working in their financial favor, the union has rejected two consecutive proposals from the owners and is now, believe it or not, moving to dissolve itself.

The abandonment of its status as a union no longer makes the negotiations a collective bargaining dispute, and, instead, potentially makes the lockout a legitimate illegality. Once the union officially disbands, it will move to take legal action against the league—the benefit and, really, entire point of decertification in the first place.

The idea, in the minds of the players, is that the NBA is in violation of federal anti-trust law. The probable counter, in the minds of the owners, is that the players are now negotiating in bad faith and that their decertification is an unfair bargaining tactic that should summarily dismissed as such.

Which side is right? Well, neither really. All four major sporting leagues are in clear and flagrant violation of federal anti-trust laws, but have never been taken to task for it. The courts simply look the other way and more or less consider the leagues as special entities that—for reasons that are never fully stipulated—fall outside the scope of the legislation on the books.

Knowing this exemption is rather bewildering and potentially tenuous, the players are hoping to the blackmail the owners into a deal that's more to the former's liking before a court could ever rule on the league's legal status.

This, as you might unsurprised to hear, would take an absurdly long time to ever reach a definitive end. More than anything, the players have just made the proceedings even more bitter than before by walking away and opening up a lawsuit.

Whoever their legal team is should have hopefully advised the players that this maneuver will have very little effect on how the CBA ultimately settles. The lawyers will do their best to once again show that a professional sporting entity is in indisputable violation of the law. But that claim will once again be disputed. And the result will be appealed. And appealed again. And possibly remanded at some point. Then possibly appealed again. And, all the while, we will not have basketball.

Decertification is a tactic—not an end. It serves a purpose, but it will not get the players back on the floor any faster, unless both parties realize that the threat of a legal ruling is greater than whatever feelings are hurt via compromise. Indeed, if they perceive the move to the courts to be anything less than a tactic—i.e. a legitimate resolution to the lockout—then you can kiss the season goodbye.

Now, when I wrote up top that "we're all screwed," it was intended to convey that a solely legal course would indeed doom the season. That said, there's nothing that prevents the sides from continuing to negotiate. Indeed, this extra ax swinging over their heads might even result in a fairer and quicker deal. So, it isn't over. It shouldn't be over. Nothing about what happened today dictates that it's over. Now, we just have to hope that both sides are actually of that same mindset.

For the record, I know "most of you" really "don't care" about all of this, but there's like seven of us who are still into the NBA; so, you'll have to pardon me for—in no way forcibly—interrupting your lives with these occasional updates. If it makes you any happier, the prospect of even discussing this matter as related to antitrust action has me "listening to The Cure a lot."

Sixers burned by yet another point guard in loss to Celtics

Sixers burned by yet another point guard in loss to Celtics

The Sixers had been burned by point guards before. Many times, actually. 

Just a week ago, Kyrie Irving dropped 39 points in the Cavs' 112-108 win. Nineteen came in the decisive fourth quarter. 

On Saturday Isaiah Thomas did the same damage. The undersized All-Star tied his season-high with 37 points in the Celtics' comeback 107-106 victory (see instant replay).

“Isaiah’s an All-Star,” Jahlil Okafor said. “He showed us why tonight. He’s the head of their team and came up big for them like he usually does.” 

Thomas made his impact in spurts. During the Celtics' 9-0 second quarter run, he scored six of those points. In the fourth quarter, in which the game was decided, he dropped 12 straight Celtics points. Thomas finished the night 11 for 19 for the field and only 2 of 3 from three. 

The most telling stat was at the free throw line. Thomas shot 13 for 15 after attacking and drawing fouls, a point of emphasis by head coach Brad Stevens for the second half. 

Thomas scored 15 points in the first half. He noticed a change in the Sixers defense in the second and capitalized on it. The Celtics ability to stretch the floor with their three-point shooting bigs also created opportunities for Thomas to get to the rim. 

“In the second half they sat back a little bit and they were switching a lot,” Thomas explained, also noting, “We wanted to put Okafor in a pick-and-roll. He sits far back. I just wanted to attack him downhill. It’s hard for bigs to move those bigs legs they’ve got. So I just tried to stay in attack mode and I saw we were in the bonus.”

The Sixers have had problems defending the one spot all season. Isaiah Thomas is the fifth starting point guard to score 30 points or more against them. He joins Russell Westbrook (32), Jeff Teague (30 in overtime), James Harden (33) and Irving. Another five (Kemba Walker, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry) have scored 20 or more points. 

The oneness of these high-scoring point guards doesn’t fall solely on the Sixers backcourt, where Sergio Rodriguez has been assuming the starting role in place of the oft-injured Jerryd Bayless. These opponents have been doing their work inside the arc. Of the five who have scored 30, only two (Harden and Irving) attempted more than three treys. 

“We’re all working hard trying to stop them, but it’s easier said than done,” Okafor said. 

The next point guard the Sixers will face is Emmanuel Mudiay when they take on the Nuggets Monday. Last season Mudiay hit the game-winning, buzzer-beating three in Denver. 

Instant Replay: No. 7 Penn State 38, No. 6 Wisconsin 31

usa-brandon-bell-james-franklin.jpg
USA Today Images

Instant Replay: No. 7 Penn State 38, No. 6 Wisconsin 31

BOX SCORE

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State got bullied a bit Saturday, but never gave up its lunch money. 

It spent the second half taking control of the schoolyard.

After getting pushed around for much of Saturday night’s first half, the Nittany Lions were anything but punchy after the break. Penn State (No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings) got its high-powered offense into gear in the second and roared back for the school’s first victory in the Big Ten Championship game, 38-31, over No. 6 Wisconsin.

The Nittany Lions (11-2) are bound for the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2009 season and are outright conference champions for the first time in 22 years.  

Penn State trailed by three touchdowns midway through the second quarter but allowed just three points the rest of the night. Quarterback Trace McSorley threw for 384 yards and a title-game record four touchdowns to spark a comeback that saw the Nittany Lions outscore the Badgers 24-3 in the second half. McSorley was named Big Ten Championship game MVP.

Wisconsin missed a 48-yard field goal early in the second half and Penn State needed just 11 seconds to take advantage. McSorley (22 for 31) hit Saeed Blacknall with a 70-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to a touchdown. Saquon Barkley tied it at 28 later in the third with a 1-yard scoring run.

Blacknall ended the night with six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns while DaeSean Hamilton had eight grabs for 118. 

Wisconsin retook the lead with a short field goal in the final seconds of the third quarter but Penn State went ahead for good on the ensuing drive, which ended with McSorley’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Barkley.

Tyler Davis added a 24-yard field goal later in the fourth and the Penn State defense sealed the victory when Grant Haley stuffed Wisconsin’s Corey Clement on fourth-and-1 with 1:01 to play.

The Nittany Lions fumbled the ball away twice in the opening half — one was returned for a short Badgers touchdown — but only trailed 28-14 at intermission after McSorley hit Blacknall for a 40-yard touchdown with under a minute to play in the half. 

Mike Gesicki caught McSorley’s first scoring pass, a 33-yarder, late in the first quarter.

Clement finished with 164 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Badgers (10-3), who also got scoring runs from Bradrick Shaw and Dare Ogunbowale. Bart Houston was 16 for 21 for 174 yards. 

Smelling the roses?
Penn State is likely off to Pasadena for the fourth time in school history and is seeking to reach .500 in college football’s longest running postseason game. The Nittany Lions defeated Oregon 38-20 in the 1995 game but fell to Southern California in their other two trips, in 2009 and 1923.

It appears the Trojans might be their opponents once more; No. 4 Washington won the Pac-12 championship Friday night but appears headed for the playoff. The Rose Bowl gets its choice of Pac-12 runner-up Colorado (10-3) or 9-3 USC.

There is a chance Penn State could be selected to the College Football Playoff, but No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Washington all won this weekend, while No. 2 Ohio State was idle. The playoff will be announced at noon on Sunday.

He’s fine
Sophomore running back running back Saquon Barkley showed no ill effects of a right foot injury suffered during a Nov. 26 win over Michigan State. He added the go-ahead touchdown — and another mention in Penn State’s record book — for good measure.

Barkley, who left in the third quarter of Nittany Lions’ penultimate victory, hauled in a touchdown pass from McSorley in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to give Penn State the lead for good. He had a short scoring run earlier in the period.

Barkley broke Evan Royster’s sophomore rushing record with a 19-carry, 83-yard night to push his season total to 1,302 yards. He set the mark for Penn State freshman (1,076) last fall.

Nice run
Wisconsin’s Andrew Endicott’s 23-yard field goal late in the third quarter snapped a shutout streak that had seen Penn State outscore its opponents 82-0 in the second halves of games. The last scoring play before Endicott’s boot came in the second half of a 45-31 win over Indiana on Nov. 12.