NEW YORK — With locked-out NBA players threatening to file an antitrust lawsuit, the league beat them to court.
The league filed two legal claims on Tuesday against the NBA Players Association, an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board and a lawsuit in federal district court in New York.
The NBA accused the players of being uncooperative in negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement by making “more than two dozen” threats to dissolve their union and sue the league under antitrust laws in order to secure more favorable terms in a new CBA.
Owners are seeking significant changes to the league’s salary structure, claiming $300 million in losses last season and hundreds of millions more in each year of the previous CBA, which was ratified in 2005. Players have acknowledged the losses but disputed the size, and they’ve balked at the league’s push for a hard salary cap and reduction in salaries and maximum contract lengths.
The NBA’s lawsuit is essentially preventative legal medicine.
It seeks a declaration from the court that the lockout does not violate antitrust laws, in case the union breaks up to file an antitrust lawsuit. It also cites legal backing for the lockout itself, invoking Depression-era legislation known as the Norris-LaGuardia Act designed to prevent court intervention in a labor dispute.