The NBA locked out its players at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the first work stoppage in league history.
The no-lockout, no-strike deal agreed to by the league and its players' association last Oct. 27 was set to expire at midnight Friday.The lockout means the Utah Jazz won't be able to negotiate with first-round draft pick Greg Ostertag, veteran Antoine Carr or any unrestricted free agents. It also puts on hold plans for the Jazz rookie camp and annual Rocky Mountain Revue Summer League.
If the rookie camps and summer leagues aren't held, it will make it tougher for the Jazz - and every other NBA team - to evaluate and prepare young players for the upcoming season. It's a more harmful situation than in baseball, where the minor leagues continued to operate even during the strike.
With the league unable to reach a new labor deal with its players, NBA commissioner David Stern said he was taking a painful but necessary step.
"It's a shame that the success we and our players have enjoyed as a result of working together is now in jeopardy," Stern said in a statement.
It was the third work stoppage to affect major league sports in the past 12 months. Baseball players went on strike last Aug. 12, and NHL owners locked out their players Sept. 30, forcing a delay in the season.
The lockout prohibits teams from negotiating or signing contracts with free agents and the rookies selected in Wednesday's draft.
No summer leagues or tryouts will be conducted, and players will not be permitted to work out at team facilities.
"It affects players as far as any payments that might be due and benefits" such as health insurance, deputy commissioner Russ Granik said.
Despite the lockout, Granik said the league is willing to continue labor negotiations. No talks between the league and the National Basketball Players Association were scheduled.
"We all realize next season's at risk, and we have to try to make a deal," Granik said.
The move came nine days after the league and the union announced a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, to replace the one that expired in June 1994. Owners rat-i-fied the deal last week, but players tabled a vote on the contract, saying they didn't like a luxury tax intended to tighten the salary cap.
"Recent events left the owners with no other option, because the players repudiated a hard-fought agreement containing compromises and difficult choices by both sides, and the moratorium that kept this league operating this past season has now expired," Stern said.
Simon Gourdine, the union's executive director, did not immediately return a phone call.
The lockout comes while the union is divided by bitter infighting.
A group of players including Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing has asked the National Labor Relations Board to decertify the union, and a hearing is set for July 5.
Lawyers and agents representing the dissident players say they have enough votes to decertify and strip the union of its power to negotiate for the players.
"We believe this will force the players to come together," said Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer representing the dissident players. "We expect everyone will now realize their is no collective bargaining in this sport anymore and the courts will be the proper place to resolve this."
Jordan, Ewing and five other players filed a federal antitrust lawsuit Wednesday against the NBA, challenging the salary cap and the rookie draft.
Events leading up to labor dispute
- April 1983: NBA players agree to first salary cap in professional sports and revenue sharing in a new collective bargaining agreement. Original four-year pact later was extended to include the 1987-88 season.
- Feb. 1, 1984: David Stern becomes NBA commissioner after previously serving as executive vice president and general counsel.
- Nov. 1, 1988: A six-year collective bargaining agreement is reached between the league and its players.
- June 1994: CBA expires.
- Oct. 27, 1994: League and players announce no-strike, no-lockout agreement extending through the end of the playoffs, allowing the season to proceed uninterrupted.
- June 14, 1995: Saying the two sides were making progress toward a new labor deal, Stern announced the extension of no-strike, no-lockout agreement through the end of June.
- June 21, 1995: Players including Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing petition National Labor Relations Board to decertify the players' association after complaining union leadership had not kept them informed about negotiations. Later that day, Stern and union executive director Simon Gourdine announce tentative agreement on new six-year labor deal.
- June 23, 1995: Team owners unanimously approve labor deal. Players table a vote on the proposal, asking union leaders to reopen negotiations with league.
- June 30, 1995: NBA announces player lockout to begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.