An estimated 300 of about 420 eligible players voted Aug. 30 and Thursday in the election handled by the National Labor Relations Board. Ballots cast against decertification, in effect, ratified a six-year collective bargaining agreement reached Aug. 8 between the league and union executives.
U.S. District Judge David Doty said yesterday in Minneapolis he would wait for the results of the voting before deciding whether to lift the owners' lockout that has been in place since July 1 and threatens the start of the season.
Doty heard arguments on the antitrust suit filed against the league by Chicago's Michael Jordan, New York's Patrick Ewing and 14 other dissident players. Those players sought a preliminary injunction to end the lockout, but the NLRB argued the court should delay action.
Free agent Scott Skiles, who spent last season with Washington, asked to be removed as a plaintiff in the players' suit. Skiles' agent, Keith Glass, withdrew from the 14-member agents advisory committee that has supported decertification, saying he was "very uneasy about both sides."
Doty gave no indication of how he would rule on the players' suit, nor did he say whether he would grant the league's motion to transfer the case to federal court in New York.
Two unfair labor practice complaints remain: one filed by the league against the agents, the other by Sacramento's Mitch Richmond against commissioner David Stern.
Even if decertification fails, the lockout is expected to remain in place for at least an additional week. That would allow time for the player reps and the owners to hold formal ratification votes.