GETPlugged: Billy Hunter urges players to stand firm

NBA players’ union executive director Billy Hunter, in a letter sent to members Tuesday, said the 50-50 split of basketball-related income sought by the league’s owners would actually result in far greater concessions by the players and urged them to stand strong and united.

In the letter, obtained Tuesday by, Hunter explained the reasons he ended the most recent bargaining session with the owners last Friday over the proposed 50-50 split.

Read full letter after the jumpAfter that session ended, commissioner David Stern announced that two more weeks of the NBA season would be canceled and that playing a full 82-game season was no longer possible.

“We will not be intimidated by public threats, ultimatums and manufactured drop dead dates. We will stand firm in our resolve to negotiate a fair deal for our current membership and those who will join our ranks in the future,” Hunter said.

The players, who received 57 percent of BRI under the last collective bargaining agreement, proposed a 52.5 percent share on Friday.

Hunter said BRI does not represent the total revenues generated by the league, and that the league is allowed to take hundreds of millions in “expense credits” which leave the players with less than the agreed-upon percentage of revenues.

“By comparison, we received 50 percent of total revenue under the previous CBA, and our 53-47 proposal would reduce the player share to 46.4 percent of total revenues. In addition, compared to our former 57/43 split, the owner’s proposed 50/50 shifts more than $300 million per year to the owners, which equates to more than $3 billion over a 10-year deal,” Hunter explained.

“A move of this magnitude guarantees operating profits for all owners irrespective of quality of management and does not allow players to adequately share in the growth of the league.”

Hunter, in the letter, said the NBA seems determined to use hard bargaining tactics to get the deal it wants.

“They have given us ‘take it or leave it’ ultimatums, threatened to end the season prematurely, reached out to players in an attempt to divide us, misled the press, and pre-conditioned further talks on our acceptance of significant concessions,” he said. “This is an unacceptable form of negotiation, especially where the respective fates of the players and the owners are inextricably related. Moreover, it does nothing but damage the relationship between the league and union.”

Hunter also said that he and union president Derek Fisher remain on the same page — echoing Fisher’s denial Monday of a report that Hunter and another unnamed member of the union’s executive board have questioned Fisher about his relationship with Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver.

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