Derek Fisher says NBA players won’t rule out decertification

Reporting from Washington

It seems as if the NBA players are now the ones seeking leverage in labor talks with the owners for a new collective bargaining agreement.

Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the president of the Players Assn., admitted Tuesday night that the rank and file will look at decertification as an option for the union to deal with the changes ownership is seeking.

Fisher wouldn’t say whether a vote is underway by the players to dissolve the union as another means to bargain with the owners, who seem intent on locking the players out.

“I’ve kind of resigned to really staying focused on what we’re trying to get accomplished in terms of a collective bargaining agreement and still recognizing that decertification is something is real and it’s tangible,” Fisher said. “But right now our focus is not that.


“But we cannot not discuss it, not give the information that’s involved to our players so that everyone understands what it is and what would take place if that was our choice.”

A New York Times story said a vote is underway to authorize decertification. The newspaper said the Sports Business Journal mentioned that two teams have unanimously voted to authorize decertification.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re still focused on getting a fair deal done and that’s primary what our focus is,” Fisher said. “But we have a responsibility to cover all available options with our players.

“So it’s more so about preparing ourselves for what may come. There hasn’t been any final decision made on our part as far as that being something we are definitely going to do. We’re preparing ourselves for whatever happens as this process unfolds.”

The Lakers as a team haven’t voted to decertify. Fisher said the Lakers haven’t had their meeting yet.

He said they may have to delay a planned meeting for Thursday in Philadelphia until the Lakers return home next week.

“There’s a lot involved with the process,” Fisher said. “It’s huge in terms of what the legal ramifications would be. So it limits me in terms of really being able to fully discuss how it would happen, what would take place and the impact it would have on our union and our group.”

The New York Times said the authorization is only a preliminary step and the actual vote to disband the union probably wouldn’t occur until late June, just before the collective bargaining agreement is set to expire.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how we react as individuals and as a group,” Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. “Money won’t be a problem, but we want to play. We don’t want to lose money. No one wants to lose money. You want to be able to play. The fans still love the game. We love the league. We don’t want them [the fans] having mixed emotions.”