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This Week In The Lockout: (De)certifiable

In the inaugural edition of TWITL, I confidently declared that there was nothing I'd less rather be writing about than the NBA's work stoppage. That statement, it so happens, was incorrect. This past Tuesday I discovered a topic even more unpleasant and spiritually draining, involving Andrew Bynum and his fondness for handicapped parking spaces. At this point I know better than to hope this was a low point in the offseason. In fact, I now fear that Drew's locked in a spiral of criminality that will soon find us posting articles about how he's been caught:

(a) running guns to Kurdish separatists in southern Turkey,
(b) bilking pension funds and rich dowagers out of millions in an industrial-scale pyramid scheme, and/or
(c) presiding over a black market organ-harvesting syndicate.

For now, I'm grateful to him for making the NBA's labor dispute seem a touch less unsavory by comparison.

It's time once again to discuss the voyages of the S.S. Lockout. We'll go with the always dependable Q&A format for this one, and because I live to serve, I'll supply both the Q's and the A's. It'll be a one-man Socratic dialogue.

Is the lockout still going on?


Any progress toward a resolution?
Negative. Since the lockout began on July 1, there've been no high-level meetings between the owners and the players' association, and none are scheduled. There probably won't be any formal negotiating sessions until August.

The only meetings that have taken place involved lawyers and other mid-level suits, and their purpose was to complete an audit of the league's financial results from last season. Yesterday that process wrapped up, and at 5:00 p.m. the league sent out a press release announcing the numbers. They showed that basketball-related income rose 4.8 percent last year.

Keep in mind that the American economy is growing at a pace of about two percent a year. So any business growing at almost five percent would seem to be doing pretty damn well. As Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted, "If audit had shown league revenues down, you can bet the NBA wouldn't have snuck out those figures at 5 pm on a Friday."

Dude, I'm already bored. Is there gonna be a cat video at the end?
Of course.

Can I just scroll down and watch it now instead of reading all this?
What? No. You think I'm just doing this for fun? I'm here to impart knowledge so shut your wordhole and listen.

Fine, geez. What else happened this week?
The players' union continues to strategerize over its long-term counteroffensive. According to Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, union leaders are planning a series of players' meetings over the next month or so "on lockout life and how best to handle it, with topics ranging from players' health insurance to the overseas option that continues to evolve." We're also starting to hear chatter about a possible decertification of the union.

Decertification is a step the NFL players' union took a few months back. It's essentially a declaration that the union is no longer a collective entity for bargaining or any other purposes. As a tactic, the point of decertifying is to permit the players to sue owners on antitrust grounds. Collective-bargaining relationships are exempt from antitrust law, so decertifying is a way to get from one area of the law to another.

That's what led to the litigation that's pending between certain NFL players, on the one hand, and NFL owners on the other. If the NFL lockout ends before the litigation is resolved in court, we won't find out if the decert strategy is legally viable - NFL owners claim that it's a sham and that their players are still functioning as a de facto union - but it's a weapon NBA players could use in an attempt to enhance their leverage.

Union president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter have so far opposed decertification because they fear that if this thing spills into the courts, it'll mean losing the entire 2011-12 season. But player agents are pushing for it. Late yesterday Woj tweeted:

Top player agents met w/ Billy Hunter today; union decertification top of agenda. Hunter becoming "more open-minded" about idea, source says. . . . NBA agents want to force league to negotiate for real, and feel only threat of unknown that comes with union decert can do that.

This sounds like it's gonna last awhile. Any suggestions for how to kill time in the months ahead?
How about playing Batman: Arkham City? This new trailer is awesomely violent.

I'll say! But enough with such fripperies. What about Europe? Any more players signed with foreign clubs?
Timofey Mozgov is headed to BC Khimki Moscow, Nenad Krstic to CSKA Moscow and Zaza Pachulia to hyperactive Beskitas. The Krstic and Pachulia deals actually came to light the week before last but I somehow overlooked them because who the hell cares. On Sunday, Dwight Howard said there's a "huge possibility" he'll end up playing overseas, which would be a lot more interesting.

Sadly, there's been no announcement of a deal between Ron Artest and the Cheshire Jets. I still believe that unleashing Ron on the Brits would call forth hilarity to make the whole lockout worthwhile. This from the Chester Chronicle supports my thesis (emphasis added):

CHESHIRE Jets' sensational move to sign LA Lakers superstar (Ed. note: lulz) Ron Artest gathered pace this week.

Delicate negotiations have been taking place every night between Artest and the Jets - ever since The Chronicle exclusively broke the news that the club was ready to swoop following the player's revelations via social networking site Twitter that he would consider a move to the UK.

But the deal, which has sparked media interest on both sides of the Atlantic, seemed dead in the water on Tuesday when ESPN reported Artest's agent David Bauman claiming the BBL is ‘the 10th or 12th best league in Europe' - a claim Jets director Pete Hawkins did not deny.

"His assessment of our league is fair," said Hawkins. "But it is about what else we can offer Ron. We play less than half the number of games that the Lakers do in the same period of time and that will give him more spare time to pursue his movies and music ventures."


Supposedly David Stern was to meet this week with the president of FIBA to hash out the issue of clearance letters, but there's still no word on a solution to that issue.

So what are the Lakers up to these days?
You mean aside from pirating handicapped parking spots?

This weekend Fish and Kobe Bryant are playing some charity games in the Philippines. A cavalcade of NBA stars - including Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul - will be joining them. Meanwhile Pau Gasol has been in Spain making appearances at his basketball academy. As for the Laker organization itself, pink slips are a-flying and Ronnie Lester's none too happy about it.

Can I have that cat video now?
Sure thing, you've earned it. This week, it's a kitten losing its damn head over some apples. LOLZWUUUT.

That cat is metal.

Stuff To Read

NBA Lockout: Where Did the Money Go? (Matt Moore, CBS Sports, 7/18)
‘Sports' Wins 11th Consecutive ESPY for ‘Best Thing' (Onion Sports Network, 7/19)
The National Basketball Association's European Vacation (Jonathan Abrams, Grantland, 7/19)
Tim Duncan Sends Teammates Google+ Invitations for Fifth Consecutive Day (Onion Sports Network, 7/20)
Union President Fisher Maintains Bold Stance in Labor Negotiations (Ian Thomsen, Sports Illustrated, 7/21)
The Ten Douchiest Moments in Entourage History (Matt Ufford, Warming Glow, 7/20)
Should the NBA Contract? (Moore and Ken Berger, CBS Sports, 7/22)
The Players May Have Enough Loopholes to Survive (Moore, CBS Sports, 7/22)
Manager, Pitcher Go Through Entire Bottle of Wine During Really Great Mound Visit (Onion Sports Network, 7/22)

Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.