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postheadericon NBA conflict threatens its season

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver last March saw football players like Tom Brady and Drew Brees said they would dissolve their union and sue the NFL under antitrust law.

“We’ll see how the next steps go,” Tolliver said at the time. “Hopefully we’ll learn from them.”

Now is the time to find out what they learned Tolliver and other NBA players. He is one of a handful of players, including Carmelo Anthony and stars Kevin Durant, who filed a class action lawsuit against the NBA monopolistic actions in federal court last week.

That could result in a lengthy legal process or, as happened with the labor disputes of the NFL-finished to bring both sides back to the negotiating table.

“We’ve seen every twist and turn, and I imagine we’ll see many more. Hopefully a settlement can be reached, relatively quickly, and the NBA season can be saved,” said Jeffrey Kessler, outside counsel for both the NFL and NBA players’ associations. “That would be the best result for everyone, to have a litigation settlement now.”

The NBA lockout, which came on the heels of the NFL, has already lasted longer, and there is a significant difference: the football labor disputes caused the cancellation of only one exhibition game, while the NBA and has had to reduce its regular season and do not know if in fact it is played.

Commissioner Roger Goodell of the NFL spoke repeatedly about getting a deal and keep the season intact. In contrast, when the last round of negotiations collapsed on Monday NBA Commissioner David Stern spoke of a “nuclear winter” and said it appeared that “the 2011-12 season is really in jeopardy.” Last Tuesday was the first time that players did not receive their pay every two weeks because of the lockout. People who work at some stage in the NBA or in a pub or restaurant nearby are began to resent in income from last month, when preseason games were eliminated.

“This lockout doesn’t just hurt players. It hurts workers. It hurts cities. It hurts people who really need the income provided by the NBA,” Kessler said. “But what people have to keep in mind is that the players don’t want this lockout.”

For now, the only chance to see All-Stars like LeBron James or Dwight Howard in action is one of the parties organized by the players for charity. Unless, of course, some of them take the opportunity to play abroad: Kobe Bryant was in contact with teams from Italy, Dwyane Wade authorized its agent to receive any offers.

NFL players did not have this international option, of course.

Labor problems in both leagues began, originally, with discussions on how to divide billions of dollars in revenue, about 9,000 million dollars in the NFL and 4,000 million dollars from the NBA, but also about changing the rules on players’ contracts and free agency. Both conflicts have offered scathing dialogues. Both have angered fans who can not understand why it is so difficult to find a consensus.

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