During an appearance on “Jim Rome Is Burning” on Wednesday, former Wizards forward Jerry Stackhouse was asked to speak about the current labor dispute and offered some incendiary criticism of the National Basketball Players’ Association and its president Derek Fisher.
Stackhouse doesn’t believe Fisher, or any player, should be sitting across the room from NBA Commissioner David Stern trying to negotiate billion-dollar deals. “Not to say anything against Derek Fisher, it’s not that I don’t think he’s a great guy,” said Stackhouse, a 16-year veteran, who played seven games with the Miami Heat last season. “But I don’t want him negotiating my contract. I want an agent who knows the lingo negotiating my contract. Derek Fisher, he doesn’t negotiate his own contract. He has an agent. So why would I want him negotiating something even bigger than his contract? This [collective bargaining agreement] is something more important to everybody.”
Fisher does have the benefit of union Executive Director Billy Hunter, and other hired legal counsel, economists and staff for the bargaining sessions, but Stackhouse doesn’t believe that is enough.
“David Stern, he’s made this league what it is,” Stackhouse continued. “He’s one of the greatest commissioners in sports. He’s got that title, he’s got the NBA at the place where it is because he’s a shrewd businessman and knows how to work his way, play the media, play things up to get what he wants. We don’t do that. Players are emotional. Players get emotional. So no, I don’t necessarily, particularly want Derek Fisher or any of the executive committee negotiating a contract for me.”
The past week has not been a good one for the players’ union, with the NBA canceling the rest of November after a breakdown in negotiation last Friday and reports of discord between Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter complicating the situation. Fisher, Hunter and the rest of the executive committee are meeting in New York on Thursday to map out a strategy going forward.
Stackhouse believes that the union is already overmatched and needs to establish a different structure in order to avoid getting beat down in labor negotiations. “I’m not sure they are going about it the right way, of actually getting a good deal done for the players,” said Stackhouse, who played with the Wizards from 2002-04 before getting traded to Dallas for Antawn Jamison.
The players have already offered to accept 52.5 percent of the basketball-related income after receiving 57 percent in the previous collective bargaining agreement. The owners are seeking a 50-50 split of the revenues, but Stern said the offer would get worse if the two sides are unable to reach an agreement in the next fee weeks.
Fisher has been union president since 2006. Both he and Stackhouse were in the NBA during the last work stoppage in 1998-99, which resulted in a 50-game season. Stackhouse believes the union gave up too much during that deal. “Over the course of my career, the last 16 years, it seems like the executive committee is always making concessions,” Stackhouse said. “More concessions, more concessions in each Collective Bargaining Agreement and this is no different. I don’t think there’s ever been a case where it seems like we have any leverage. . . . We need to have more people who are capable of going toe to toe with David Stern and I just don’t think players who spend most of their time playing basketball and Billy Hunter are geared to do that.”