Precedent Power – NBA Negotiations

Notes on Negotiation

Precedent Power

Submitted by Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute

NBA Commissioner Daniel Stern, discussing the on-going negotiation between the NBA owners and players’ association, recently pointed out that, “The NFL, which is usually profitable as opposed to the NBA, which isn’t, got [a] double-digit [revenue] reduction from their players.”

Stern is using the recently concluded NFL labor negotiation as a precedent to support the NBA owners’ position. Precedent – what has happened in the past in similar negotiations – is a powerful independent standard for determining what is “fair and reasonable.”

The players can – and I expect will – challenge the validity of this precedent by suggesting the NBA circumstances are sufficiently different from the NFL to warrant a valid comparison.

How can you put precedent power to work? Research all applicable precedents and evaluate whether and how to use each in your negotiation.


Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts’ proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or

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