NBA Games Cancelled Until December 15 with Players Filing Suit

November 16, 2011

The National Basketball Association (NBA) have cancelled all regular season games up to December 15 with labour negotiations at a stand still.

The players also filed a lawsuit against the governing body setting the stage for a complicated legal battle to resolve their bitter labor dispute.

The court action came as the NBA formally notified teams that all regular season games through to December 15 had been canceled, extending the delay to six weeks after the first month of games was already lost. The season was supposed to start on November 1.

The moves came a couple of days after players rejected a contract offer that included plans for a shortened season, saying the terms were unacceptable and they wanted to pursue legal action.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Northern California, was brought on behalf of named plaintiffs, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Leon Powe.

The suit seeks to represent NBA players and other prospective professionals while the defendants include the league and its 30 member teams.

“Rather than competing for the players’ services,” the lawsuit said, “defendants have combined and conspired to eliminate such competition among themselves for NBA players through group boycotts, concerted refusals to deal, and agreements on restricting output and fixing prices.”

The lawsuit seeks triple damages as a result of the antitrust violations.

The latest collective bargaining agreement that players turned down Monday, called for a 50-50 split of basketball related income between the owners and players and would have provided for a 72-game season to start on December 15.

The old collective bargaining agreement gave 57-43 split in favour of the players but the NBA has claimed the losses made by teams means this split should be more equal. The NBA, which claims it lost $300 million last season with 22 of its 30 teams in the red

The National Basketball Players Association also said it would no longer continue in collective bargaining and would dissolve the union to become a trade association in order to pursue legal action against the NBA.

A shift from the negotiating table to the courts sets the stage for a potentially lengthy battle with the entire NBA season likely to be the casualty.

The player lockout began on July 1. They have been locked out for almost five months.