The NBA season is in jeopardy, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals is to blame.
After weeks of union decertification talk, NBA players took action this week. On Monday, negotiations between players and owners ended, and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) voted to disband.
As members of the NBPA - a union - players were stuck in the collective bargaining process. Now that the players have elected to disband the NBPA, they can pursue an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA owners.
So why are we pointing fingers at the Eighth Circuit?
NFL players attempted a similar strategy back in March, only to have their efforts thwarted by the Eighth Circuit. In July, the Eighth Circuit ruled that the Norris-LaGuardia Act, a labor law that prohibits federal courts from enjoining lockouts, applied to the NFL player/owner dispute. Though NFL players voted for union decertification after the Eighth Circuit ruling, players and owners ultimately resolved their issues to avoid missing any regular season games.
Union decertification or disbandment is necessary to file a class action lawsuit, but union decertification is more time intensive than disbandment; it could have taken the NBA as long as six weeks to complete decertification. Monday's action, instead, allows players to immediately file a class action antitrust lawsuit against the NBA owners, reports The New York Times.
The owners, however, anticipated the move in October and filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court to enjoin players from challenging the lockout on antitrust grounds.
Regardless of the future of the 2011-2012 season, NBA Commissioner David Stern says the players' tactic will fail since the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the NFL from executing a similar move in July. Stern, who describes the players as "hell-bent on self destruction," said that Monday's action could jeopardize the entire 2011-2012 season. "We need a deal 30 days before we start [a season]," Stern told AOL.