Several players have filed lawsuits against the NBA in a continuing labour dispute which has led to the cancellation of more games in an already—abbreviated 2011—12 season.

The NBA Tuesday cancelled games through December 15 and, with its third such announcement, has now lapped off a total of 324 regular—season contests.

They including all of November’s schedule, with owners and players unable to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement in the more than five—month—old lockout.

That translates into a loss of 220,000 dollars for the average NBA player, according to CNBC.

Hours later, players filed class—action antitrust lawsuits against the NBA in two states as the dispute now shifts from the bargaining table to a court of law.

They are seeking monetary damages for lost wages, which would be tripled under antitrust law, which regulates anti—competitive conduct by companies.

Carmelo Anthony and New York Knicks teammate Chauncey Billups, league top scorer Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard and veteran free agent Leon Powe were listed as plaintiffs in the complaint filed in the union—favourable Northern District of California against the NBA and its 30 team owners.

Anthony Tolliver and rookie Derrick Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons Ben Gordon, and free agent Caron Butler were named the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the league and owners in Minneapolis, where the NFL suit was held.

Players’ attorney David Boies, who represented the NFL during the work stoppage, told reporters at the players’ association headquarters in New York City, he will challenge the lockout as an “illegal boycott,” because it violates antitrust laws by refusing to allow players to work.

Boies would not be asking for an injunction but a summary judgment for monetary damages.

“We believe the right way to address the players’ damages is to ask the owners to pay for it,” he said. “And since under the antitrust laws they have to pay three times damages. That’s a pretty good incentive to end the lockout.” The goal, according to Boies is not to go to trial but to bring the owners back to the bargaining table and salvage the season.

“I hope it is not necessary to litigate this all the way,” he explained. “I hope at some point the NBA and the teams will have enough concern for basketball fans that they will resolve these issues and allow the players to start playing.” Boies said the California suit would include NBA commissioner David Stern’s ultimatum delivered last Thursday urging the players approve the league’s last best proposal or have it replaced with a far less attractive one if rejected.

Refusing to be bullied into agreeing to the ultimatum and a bad deal, player representatives from each of the 30 teams on Monday opted to disband the union and issued a disclaimer of interest.

“With David Stern saying don’t look for another offer because you’re not going to get one, that’s not collective bargaining, and there’s some distinct facts here,” Boies said. “I think it turned out to be a mistake.

“If you are in a poker game and you’re going to bluff, and the bluff works, you’re a hero. If somebody calls your bluff, you lose. I think the owners have overplayed their hand.” The plaintiffs argue in the Minnesota filing that the lockout “constitutes an illegal group boycott, price—fixing agreement, and/or restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Act” and that the owners’ final offer for a new collective bargaining agreement would have “wiped out the competitive market for most NBA players.” Boies suggested the NBA could lift its lockout and allow the season to begin without having a collective bargaining agreement in place. But that would only come as part of a settlement of the lawsuit filed on Tuesday and amount to a resetting of the collective bargaining process, effectively sending the sides back to square one while allowing basketball to be played.

“We have not heard from them,” Boies said of the NBA, “but they have my number.”

Keywords: NBA dispute

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