How does graduating cum laude in English and philosophy prepare you to be an NBA team’s union rep? According to Suns forward Louis Amundson, not very well.
In an uncontested ballot, the fourth-year man out of UNLV was named the team’s rep for the NBA Players Association. His duties included attending meetings throughout the season and offseason and reporting back to his teammates about various business developments occurring throughout the union.
So how did he get the job? Naturally, co-captain Grant Hill nominated him.
“If Grant Hill nominates you, you have to accept,” Amundson said.
The team’s previous union rep was Raja Bell.
“It’s interesting,” the 6-9 forward said. “I like to be in the loop and know what’s going on. It affects all of us and I decided it would be a good thing for me to do.”
It’s vital for any player to understand the collective bargaining agreement and the business side of how the league operates, but it is even more important with the current collective bargaining agreement expiring at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season. At that point, the owners of all of the franchises and the Players Association will follow a new agreement.
Amundson recently attended a Players Association meeting in Dallas and will also attend an important one this summer. Last summer’s meeting took place in Las Vegas.
“You learn a lot about it on the fly and from the meetings I have to attend,” he said. “You get caught up pretty quickly with everything.”
Throughout the season they send him tax information to disseminate amongst his teammates and give him messages to relay to the team.
Amundson is not paid anything extra for his time. But he believes the value of the position is in the learning about the economic side of the game.
“Before, I didn’t know how the whole thing worked,” he said. “I didn’t know that revenue drives the salary cap and how it’s all connected between the union and the owners.”
Amundson already has one potential tutor in the Lakers’ Derek Fisher. Fisher, the President of the Players’ Association, played with Amundson in Utah when Amundson first signed in the NBA.
The Suns’ reserve described Fisher as “a great guy” and someone that he knows he could look to for insight and leadership. As for now, it looks as if the former English/philosophy major is doing just fine in his crash course in labor negotiations.