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NBA decertification and antitrust lawsuit



Even aside from the dumb economics of risking missing a season over a 10% pay-cut when the average career is less than ten years long, the NBA players are being poorly served by their lawyers and representatives in engaging in a decertification-and-sue-under-antitrust theory. None of the press coverage mentions the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. ยงยง 101 et seq., which prohibits injunctions "in a case involving or growing out of a labor dispute." The ploy of pretending not to be a union subject to the collective-bargaining exception while continuing to bargain collectively isn't going to fly unless courts in the Ninth Circuit refuse to follow the law. The Supreme Court already addressed this issue in Brown v. NFL, when it held that antitrust laws did not apply to suits over collective bargaining arrangements, and that those protections continued to apply immediately after the collective bargaining broke down. And it's ironic, because the players' attorney, David Boies knows this, having made precisely this argument on behalf of the NFL in their lockout labor dispute earlier this year. The NFL had a viable labor model, however, and the owners would lose a lot of money if the lockout continued; the parties were destined to settle. NBA players don't have a credible threat, because the NBA has over a dozen teams that would lose less money not playing than playing, even if that's largely because so many teams are poorly managed.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.