Photo By: 
Erik Drost

Going above the rim

NBA players Steph Curry and Lebron James have embraced a union role that very few elite players have taken

Brian Young's picture
Jun 08, 2016

With Game 3 of the NBA Finals kicking off on Wednesday night, two union Vice Presidents will face off on the court.  The NBA Players Association (NBPA) Vice veeps, Steph Curry and Lebron James, have decided to take a role that very few elite players have taken in the past to look out for their teammates and be a leader both on and off the court. 

The NBPA is North America’s oldest player’s union.  In a sport built around superstars, very few have taken an active role in the union.  Both James and Curry joined the leadership team in 2013 as the players were forced to rid themselves of long time Executive Director Billy Hunter.  In the 3 years since they joined, they have been active in reshaping the union to be more adversarial with the owners and a more powerful advocate for the players.

This new era in leadership that has joined the union is made up of the league’s most marketable players.  The NBPA’s president is Clippers Point Guard Chris Paul.  As UCOMM previously reported, Paul’s father is a member of the Communications Workers of America and instilled in him the drive to be a union leader.  The association has also brought on James as their first Vice President, Curry, Warriors teammate Andre Iguodala, and Carmelo Anthony as Vice Presidents.  Additionally, big names like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, John Wall and Rajon Rondo serve as player representatives from their teams. Gone are the days of role players running the union with little support from the rest of the players until they were locked out. According to Yahoo, Paul was instrumental in bringing more star power to the NBPA. 

With the Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA) likely to be reopened in the summer of 2017, the union may be in the strongest position they have been in a long time.  The leadership of the union showed their organizing ability when, James and Paul were instrumental in organizing a players’ boycott that forced the NBA to ban Donald Sterling and sell the team.  James has also taken an active role in social justice causes like the death of Eric Garner.  According to Sports Illustrated, having media friendly stars like James and Curry may help to sway public perception during the next contract battle.

Fellow NBA MVP Curry says that he likes what he hears from James in regards to the union.  "We have a lot of voices, a lot of people were vocal, but he talked about what it takes to get to the next level as a union," Curry told Cleveland.com. Other players have said that he is a natural at uniting the players and breaking down what they are fighting for.  It is clear that James is bringing the leadership he exhibits on the court into union matters. 

As James and Curry face off in the NBA Finals, the players will have their two of their most important leaders facing off against each other.  There is hope that the leadership they exhibit on the floor will unite the players and lead to a new CBA without a work stoppage.  Through the leadership of Paul, James and Curry that might just happen.

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