PDF: Players File Legal Complaint Against NBA In California

On Tuesday, we noted that the artists formerly known as the National Basketball Players Association filed antitrust lawsuits against the NBA in both California and Minnesota.

We also linked up the Minnesota lawsuit (which can be read in PDF form here). After iPhone 4s-level anticipation -- with readers sending such a long line of anxious emails that it extended around my living room three times -- you can now finally read the California lawsuit in PDF form right here via Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

Like the Minnesota complaint, the California complaint names all thirty NBA teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, as defendants. The complaint alleges that the NBA, through statements made by commissioner David Stern, threatened to overhaul the league's financial system for more than four years prior to the expiration of the league's collective bargaining agreement and pretty much refused to negotiate on those demands. An excerpt...

In June 2007, more than four years prior to the expiration of the 2005 CBA, NBA league officials warned NBA players and their then-collective bargaining representative, the National Basketball Players Association ("NBPA"), that Defendants intended to substantially reduce the players' share of Basketball Related Income ("BRI"), to impose more restrictive "salary cap" limits affecting players' individual salaries, and to remove or restrict a number of important "system" provisions that protect player rights.

The NBA and the NBPA began negotiations concerning a possible 2011 CBA in 2009. In those negotiations, the NBA and its team owners refused to negotiate their 2007 demands in any meaningful way. On July 1, 2011, immediately upon the expiration of the 2005 CBA, and while negotiations concerning a new CBA were continuing, the Defendants unilaterally imposed a lockout.

Despite the lockout, the NBPA attempted to continue to negotiate a new CBA. Although the NBPA made concession after concession, including concessions that would cost its members more than one billion dollars over a six-year period, the NBA essentially refused to negotiate its basic 2007 demands. Instead the NBA continued to make punitive demands upon the players, continued the lockout, and began canceling preseason and regular season games. In fact, essentially the only movement by the NBA was to demand and then modify the requested concessions from the players in addition to the concessions demanded in 2007. Throughout this time, the NBPA kept making additional concessions in search of a reasonable way to reach a new CBA.

The lawsuit then goes on to cite specific instances where Stern made ultimatums over the last month or so. It also alleges that the NBA sought to obtain "a guaranteed profit of at least 10 percent of revenues, regardless of how effectively the owners control costs and manage their teams" and threatened a "career-crippling lockout for a year or more" if that demand wasn't met.

Howard Beck of The New York Times with a timeline.

No hearing date has been set for the players' primary lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The case was initially assigned to a magistrate judge, with a case management conference scheduled for Feb. 29. However, at the players' request, the case is being reassigned to a district judge, with a hearing date to be determined.

David Boies, the lead lawyer for the players, is hoping that a hearing can be scheduled much sooner, in time to save the season.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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