The protest action at the German Top 4 Cup in Hamburg drew support from the NBA Player’s Association with NBPA executive director Bill Hunter comparing the move to the beginnings of his own organization back in 1964.
Players from Bonn and Düsseldorf refused to play the first two possessions of Saturday’s Top 4 first semi-final. In additions, all four semifinalists – also eventual champions Alba Berlin and Deutsche Bank Skyliners Frankfurt – wore Christmas tree stickers on their shoes.
The moves were part of a protest organized by not-for-profit players association SP.IN to speak out against the German BBL league making decisions without negotiating with the German player’s association. Among the issues were scheduling games over Christmas, the BBL doping program and the lack of opportunities for young German players.
“In some points we see the rights to have a voice. Our goal is that talks are held in which we are not just heard but can also take part,” Frankfurt captain Pascal Roller was quoted by the German Press Agency dpa. Roller also sits on the Sp.in executive board.
The league refuted the accusations and BBL chief executive Jan Pommer told dpa: “I find the action superfluous, though is it not disruptive. I don’t think the fans understood it.” About playing games in the Christmas break, Pommer added: “We have to schedule the games where the consumers want to watch. After all, we are earning money with the games. And the players also profit from this.”
After hearing about the Sp.in protest, NBA Player’s Association Bill Hunter addressed a letter of support to Sp.in members, published on the organization’s website.
In it, he said:
“You find yourselves in a similar situation as a group of NBA All Stars in 1964 when, led by Oscar Robertson, they threatened to strike the All Star game in order to compel the NBA to recognize the union and begin real negotiations. That was our beginning and since then our players have benefitted from the negotiation of a series of Collective Bargaining Agreements that regulate the labor relations between the players and the league. This could also be your future if you stick together during this critical phase in the development of your young association.
Good luck and much success.
This issue is hardly over with. Stay tuned.