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NBA lockout: Union decertification could mean no 2011-12 season

DfishnbaNegotiations between NBA players and owners this weekend will have greater importance because of the threat of decertification lingering in the background.

Frustrated with the lack of progress in talks to end the lockout, some NBA players are considering an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board for decertification of the players' union, an extreme legal step that could take months to sort out and would threaten the entire NBA season.

If the union decertifies, players can sue the NBA under U.S. antitrust laws, likely claiming that the league conspired to deny their ability to market themselves by locking players out when the last collective-bargaining agreement expired July 1.

It would take months for courts to reach a final ruling on lawsuits filed against the NBA, according to legal experts.

"If the players decertify, you have to say that the odds are that there will be no season," said Bill Gould, a Stanford law professor and former NLRB chairman who wrote the book "Bargaining With Baseball."

"I don’t think you can get definitive resolution from the court of appeals until January at the earliest."

Talks on a new collective-bargaining agreement have broken down each of the last two weeks, though owners and players will try again to find a solution Saturday in New York. The NBA has already canceled the first month of the season, and further cancellations are expected if a deal isn't reached soon.

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Helene Elliott: Kings, Ducks don't want to profit at NBA's expense

--Mike Bresnahan

Photo: Players union President Derek Fisher after a negotiating session last month. Credit:  Frank Franklin II / Associated Press

 
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