Monday, February 07, 2011

Baxter and Strawberry Score Wins in Contract Arbitration

One of the problems of playing overseas is that the teams often have financial difficulties and fail to pay the players, particularly when the team knows that a foreign player may not have the time and patience to go through the local courts to sue the team. In recent years, FIBA has instituted the FIBA Arbitral Tribunal system to help players and teams arbitrate contract problems. The New York Times had a recent story about the tribunal system, starring Lonny Baxter (1998-2002) and DJ Strawberry (2003-07) as two players who have won in arbitration with their former teams. Baxter succeeded in getting his paid owed contract money from his former Turkish team through the program, but Strawberry has still gone unpaid because the Italian team that owes him is broke. Excerpts:
Receiving a late paycheck is an accepted reality for many American basketball players working overseas.

For the former N.B.A. player Lonny Baxter, when Besiktas ColaTurka Istanbul, his Turkish team for the 2009-10 season, owed him $120,000 after not paying him for three months, he did not take it lightly.

Baxter, 32, knew that Besiktas would be late for some payments, but, he said, “I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was once I got there.”

So Baxter and his agents exercised an arbitration clause that has helped several American players resolve labor disputes in foreign countries. The F.A.T. clause, which stands for FIBA Arbitral Tribunal, is a voluntary legal proceeding that agents are now demanding to have included in their players’ contracts with international teams.

“Clubs tend to not respect the contracts they make,” said Dirk-Reiner Martens, a longtime legal adviser to FIBA, which oversees international basketball. [...]

Other players are not repaid as quickly. The former Maryland player D. J. Strawberry was owed more than $250,000 by the Italian team Fortitudo Pallacanestro Bologna before a knee injury ended his season. An F.A.T. arbitrator awarded him $272,583.27 and interest in September. But Fortitudo, which is thought to be almost $11 million in debt, is not playing in Italy’s professional Serie A this season. Rade Filipovich, the president of BDA Sports International and Strawberry’s agent at the time, said his agency had no option but to wait until Fortitudo returned to Serie A in order to reclaim Strawberry’s money.
Baxter is currently playing for Siberian team Enisey Krasnoyarsk in the Russian Superleague, and Strawberry is playing for Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania.

No comments: