NBA players show solidarity at Thursday meeting


NBA players show solidarity at Thursday meeting

By A. Sherrod Blakely Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

LAS VEGAS NBA players from all over the economic stratosphere, from rookies yet to receive their first NBA check to former All-Stars like Jermaine O'Neal, were flocked behind Derek Fisher, Billy Hunter and other members of the NBA players association's executive board.

Fisher, the NBAPA's president had a simple message following the three-plus hour meeting among the union and its members.

But the image behind Fisher - NBA players, shoulder to shoulder, all donning the same gray t-shirts with the word 'Stand' in the center - said it all.

"At the end of the day, we come out of our meeting continuing to be unified and as together as we've been throughout this process," Fisher said. "We continue to express our desire to negotiate, to get a fair deal; one that is fair to all our players, not just our star players . . . that's who we're standing for. We'll continue to take that stand until our team owners are in a position where they want to come to the table and get a fair deal done.

"We haven't pretended to walk into the room during negotiations and have expectations or entitlement to anything other than what's fair to the body of players that make up the game of professional basketball."

Having the image of a strong, united front was clearly the thrust of what the union hoped to accomplish.

Moves in that direction were on the radar screen prior to Thursday's meeting, which included about 30 NBA players.

Prior to the meeting, Fisher sent an e-mail to the NBAPA's membership, which was to "best update you personally as to where the leadership of the National Basketball Players Association stands, where the negotiations stand where we are headed and the reasons why."

In the letter, which was obtained by, Fisher made a point to reiterate that he and the union's executive committee "will not agree to an unfair deal on behalf of you and our players. Period."

Maurice Evans, vice president of the NBAPA, told that the biggest issue impacting the union and its members is misinformation coming from a variety of sources.

"We were able to really bring calmness and clarity to their situation," he said. "I don't think we'll have too many problems moving forward."

Evans has heard much of the talk recently that a handful of agents are pushing for the league to de-certify, which some believe just might be what the union needs to do in order to get progress towards a new CBA with the owners.

"That was a significant portion of the meeting, getting them players to understand their rights and their power," Evans said. "And just educating these guys on how to grow as a man, represent yourself and your family and to work alongside your agent, work together with your agent."

Evans understands the bond that players have with their agents.

But that bond, he said, needs to be put in perspective.

"Just trying to show players where they stand, and how the agents in some instances can be a great help, as some are, but some can be a detriment," he said.

Inside the meeting, Evans said the players were also presented with questions to get them to better understand the nature of their relationship with the union and their respective agents.

"We engaged them, we enlightened them and we asked them questions," Evans said. "'Who do you come to when you have arbitration or an issue with your agent? Who resolves that issue? In extreme and general situations, we were able to ask these guys questions . . . and it gave them their answers."

Driving the united front home even more was the presence of DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL players association.

Smith was invited to the meeting by Fisher.

"The one point that Smith made, was in regards to decertification, it's not the silver bullet," said Billy Hunter, the executive director of the NBA players' association. "The real key to all of this is player solidarity. Our players are united; they're with us. They understand the position we've adopted. We've kept them fully informed. Any decisions made will be made by the group of players behind us as well as their colleagues."

Hunter and the players union filed a lawsuit against the NBA with the National Labor Relations Board, which he hopes to have a ruling on within the next three weeks.

If the NLRB rules in favor of the union, they could rule that the lockout is illegal and thus, bring it to an end.

But until that option is exhausted, don't anticipate the union will give any serious thoughts about decertifying.

The players will try and carry themselves akin to the grey t-shirts they adorned which had players, side-by-side, with the word 'Stand' in front of them.

"The one thing that does come out of this meeting, we've kind of dispelled the notion that the players were not together; that they were not in support of the union," Hunter said. "So if the owners were looking for some division or break in the ranks, that it might weaken our resolve, I think that's been put to bed."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

Celtics are living by the 3-pointer at a historic level

BOSTON – It has been well-established that the Celtics are a three-point shooting, bombs away kind of team and nothing seems like it’ll deter them from continuing along that path.
But as we prepare for the second half of the season, beginning tonight against the New York Knicks, we come to realize Boston’s launching of 3-pointers isn’t just unusually high.
This group of Celtics rank among the league's all-time leaders in 3-point attempts by the halfway mark of the season.

And when you look at the company they’re keeping when it comes to 3-point shooting, it speaks to how important it has become in this NBA to have as many long-range shooting threats on the floor as possible if you're trying to win at a high level.
Boston’s 494 3-point attempts thus far this season ranks fourth all-time by the halfway point of a season. But this season, that’s just good enough to be third behind Houston and Golden State with 617 and 505 three-point attempts, respectively.
The other team in the top four all-time is last season's Golden State squad, which took 519 three-pointers by the midway point of the season.
And all those 3’s by the Celtics have included an NBA-record six straight games in which they made at least 15 3-pointers.
That has allowed the Celtics to score at least 100 points in 15 consecutive games, the franchise’s longest such streak since they reached the 100-point plateau in 19 straight games in 1991.
Of course Isaiah Thomas’ 3-point shooting stands out, particularly when you see how dominant he has been this season in the fourth quarter with a league-best 10.1 points per game.
But his offense, while potent, is aided heavily by the shot-making snipers coach Brad Stevens surrounds him with on a nightly basis.
That’s why you didn’t see Stevens or president of basketball operations Danny Ainge freak out earlier this season when the Celtics were struggling.
Kelly Olynyk, who shot better than 40 percent on 3’s a year ago, was still on the mend after offseason shoulder surgery.
Jae Crowder, whose 3-point shooting has steadily improved throughout his career, had some minor injuries that set him back and maybe more important, didn’t allow him to get into the kind of shooting rhythm we see now which has allowed him to shoot a team-best 42.6 percent on 3’s.
Al Horford, Thomas, Amir Johnson … they all missed some time due to injuries this season, which has impacted the team’s chemistry and timing.
But the past couple of weeks have seen the Celtics healthier than they’ve been most of this season, and it has allowed them to play with the kind of space they want which has allowed Thomas and his cohorts to take lots of lightly contested to open 3’s most of this season.
“We’ve got pretty good shooters on this team where you’ve got to pick your poison,” Thomas said. “We’re shooting at a high level, and I got to say, you just have to pick your poison who you want to stop and my job is just to make the right play each and every time down.”

Mike Gorman: 'No thanks on Carmelo Anthony to the Celtics'

Mike Gorman: 'No thanks on Carmelo Anthony to the Celtics'

The New York Knicks arrive in Boston tonight with the accompanying "Melo-drama" of Carmelo Anthony's disintegrating relationship with team president Phil Jackson.

Anthony would have to waive his no-trade clause to leave New York and Boston has been an oft-rumored destination. 

On "The Toucher and Rich Show", the longtime voice of the Celtics, Mike Gorman, said he hopes it doesn't happen. 

"I don't get it. I don't see it," Gorman said. "He's a ball stopper. One of the things that always intrigued me about Carmelo is when he's played with Team USA or an Olympic team, often he's the best player. Then you go and see him in a regular-season game and you say, 'Oh no, no."'