By Sam Ivo Burum | 63 Am. U. L. Rev. 845 (2014) 

As lockouts in professional sports have become increasingly common in recent years, the means to resolve these lockouts have also become more important. The 2011 National Basketball Association (NBA) lockout was one of the most significant in the league’s history, lasting 161 days and resulting in the cancellation of twenty-six regular season games. In addition to its length, the 2011 NBA lockout was significant because the NBA players and the National Basketball Players’ Association contested the legality of the NBA owners’ lockout through an approach grounded in
labor law; not through antitrust law as the National Football League players did earlier in 2011. 

The NBA players and the players’ association filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), but the players and the league came to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement before the NLRB had a chance to make a decision. What that NLRB decision would have been and the impact it would have had has not been analyzed until this Comment. This Comment argues that if the NBA players and the players’ association had been able to hold out for an NLRB decision, the NLRB would have ruled in favor of the players, given the players more bargaining power during negotiations, and encouraged future players’ associations to challenge collective bargaining agreements through a labor law route to the NLRB instead of an antitrust law route through federal court.


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