NBA

Fisher to NBA players: No union rift

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Derek Fisher denied a rift in union leadership in a letter to NBA players Monday, telling them there have been ''no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close'' with league officials.

A story Saturday on FOXSports.com titled ''Is Fisher in Stern's pocket?'' said there was a disagreement between Fisher and players' association executive director Billy Hunter and that the Lakers guard had promised NBA Commissioner David Stern that he could deliver a deal with a 50-50 split in basketball-related income.

The story said Hunter confronted Fisher last Friday, the day talks with the league broke down and led to the cancellation of the entire November schedule.

''Usually I wouldn't even dignify absurd media reports with a comment. But before these reports go any further, let me say on the record to each of you, my loyalty has and always will be with the players,'' Fisher wrote in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press and other media outlets. ''Anyone that questions that or doubts that does not know me, my history, and what I stand for.

''And quite frankly, how dare anyone call that into question. The Players Association is united and any reports to the contrary are false. There have been no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close. We are united in serving you and presenting the best options and getting everyone back to work.''

Players and owners made progress on a number of issues related to the salary cap system over two days last week. But the negotiations fell apart again on the third day, when the sides decided to revisit the BRI split again.

Owners are insistent on a 50-50 split, while players have proposed reducing their guarantee from 57 percent down to 52.5, which they say would transfer more than $1.5 billion to owners over six years.

''My goal, the executive committee's ONLY goal is to present you with the most fair deal possible,'' Fisher wrote. ''A deal that is both fair on system and BRI. One isn't more important than the other. They are both extremely impactful to our business, our sport and our day to day life in the league.''

Fisher put the blame squarely on owners in the letter, telling players that ''if nothing more, the league and owners should understand people's livelihoods are at stake.''

''They should be able to take the over 1 billion dollars we've offered them and open the doors of their arenas and let us, along with the ushers, parking attendants, everyone impacted to get back to work,'' Fisher added.

There have been no bargaining sessions since Friday, though Fisher told the players he would be in touch later in the week with an update.

Players will lose about $350 million with no games in November and more games could be lost without further concessions by the players, since the league has repeatedly said it won't go beyond the 50-50 split.

The FOXSports.com story identifies union leadership as a problem, saying: ''This is fact: Fisher and Hunter haven't been on the same page throughout this lockout.'' It cites a veteran NBA player familiar with the negotiations who expressed concerns about Fisher's allegiance.

''The attempt by 'sources' to divide us will be unsuccessful,'' Fisher wrote. ''We will continue to work every day to do right by you, the businesses that depend on our league and our fans.''

The official letter from Fisher to the NBA players

All,

Interesting times right now. The clock is ticking and we are aware that games are being lost, our jobs are on the line as are those of all the arena workers and business owners impacted by the lockout.

We have been prepared for this and need to make sure we are getting the best deal possible. As this sets the precedent for the next 6, 7, 10 even 20 years. My goal, the Executive Committee's ONLY goal is to present you with the most fair deal possible. A deal that is both fair on system and BRI. One isn't more important than the other. They are both extremely impactful to our business, our sport and our day to day life in the league.

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LOCKOUT LOSERS

With the NBA lockout threatening to wipe out the season, a lot of folks are sweating, especially these 10.

Our Executive Committee, NBPA staff and I are navigating the negotiations very carefully. We need to continue to work hard on your behalf and get the season going if possible. I've been speaking with many of you and we are working with your opinions, suggestions, and requests front and center. This is your union, and we work with and for you.

Many of you have asked about the timing of the cancellation of games. We know as players and interacting with our fans and the people that work in these arenas on a daily basis this is having an impact. If nothing more, the league and owners should understand people's livelihoods are at stake. They should be able to take the over 1 Billion dollars we've offered them and open the doors of their arenas and let us, along with the ushers, parking attendants, everyone impacted to get back to work.

Usually I wouldn't even dignify absurd media reports with a comment. But before these reports go any further, let me say on the record to each of you, my loyalty has and always will be with the players. Anyone that questions that or doubts that does not know me, my history, and what I stand for. And quite frankly, how dare anyone call that into question. The Players Association is united and any reports to the contrary are false. There have been no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close. We are united in serving you and presenting the best options and getting everyone back to work.

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STAYING BUSY

What did NBA players do during the lockout? You may be surprised.

The attempt by "sources" to divide us will be unsuccessful. We will continue to work every day to do right by you, the businesses that depend on our league and our fans.

The NBA and the owners have not allowed us to go back to work. So they have essentially turned their backs on not only the players, but the fans that have made them billions. I hope they decide to change that. It's the only way everyone wins.
I urge each of you to stay involved. Call me and your fellow players on the Executive Committee and the NBPA staff with anything you need or questions you may have.

I will be in touch later this week with updates on the details of the negotiations. Stand United.

With much respect,
Derek

Tagged: Lakers, Derek Fisher

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