Continued from page 1

“Here you had an ultimatum from the owners that made absolutely clear that the collective bargaining process was over,” he said, adding that Stern’s threat is quoted in the lawsuit. “That’s not collective bargaining, and so you have a very distinct set of facts here.”

The California filing says that in 2007, Stern met with union negotiators and demanded the players reduce their revenue share from 57 percent to no more than 50 percent and “insisted on a much more restrictive salary cap, which would restrict the market for player services.”

Stern threatened at that meeting, according to the lawsuit, that the league was “prepared to lock out the players for two years to get everything” that the NBA owners sought and that “the deal would only get worse after the lockout.”

The league locked out its players on July 1. Tuesday marked the 138th day of the lockout and the players’ first missed paycheck. The season was scheduled to start Nov. 1, but already games through Dec. 15 have been canceled _ a total of 324 or 26 percent of the season.

The league’s latest proposal, which was rejected by the players on Monday, called for a reduced 72-game season to start Dec. 15.

Although the NFL was able to get its recent labor dispute resolved quickly enough to lose only one preseason game, the NHL lost the entire 2004-05 season, and the NBA’s last work stoppage led to a 50-game season in 1998-99.

Boies said players will not seek a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout. Because the lockout “arguably grew out of prior collective bargaining discussions,” Boies said he believes it would be very difficult to get a court to immediately halt the lockout and such a path would delay the case.

Anthony and Chauncey Billups of the Knicks, NBA scoring leader Durant, rookie Kawhi Leonard and Grizzlies forward Leon Powe were listed as plaintiffs in the complaint filed in conjunction with the players’ association in the Northern District of California against the NBA and the owners of its 30 teams. That case has been assigned for now to U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu in Oakland, Calif.

Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver, Pistons guard Ben Gordon, free agent forward Caron Butler and Derrick Williams _ the second overall draft pick by Minnesota in June who has yet to sign a rookie contract because of the lockout _ were listed as plaintiffs in another lawsuit filed against the league and owners in Minneapolis, where NFL players had some level of success in a similar court proceeding this summer.

Boies said there might be other, similar cases to those filed on behalf of NBA players in California and Minnesota. The ideal scenario, he said, would be to bring them all together in the Northern District of California.

The plaintiffs represent various types of players affected by lockout _ those under contract, free agents and rookies.

They argue in the Minnesota filing that the lockout “constitutes an illegal group boycott, price-fixing agreement, and/or restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act” and that the owners’ final offer for a new CBA would have “wiped out the competitive market for most NBA players.”

Boies said the lawsuit was an attempt to restore competitive free-market conditions

Players made numerous economic concessions and were willing to meet the owners’ demands of a 50-50 split of basketball-related income _ a transfer of about $280 million annually from their feeling the league’s desires to improve competitive balance would hurt their guaranteed 57 percent under the old deal _ but only if the owners met them on their system wishes.

Owners wanted to keep more of the league’s nearly $4 billion in basketball revenues. And they sought a system where even the smallest-market clubs could compete, believing the current system would always favor the teams who could spend the most.

Story Continues →