Derek Fisher is serious. And is seriously ticked off.
Over the weekend, Jason Whitlock at Fox Sports published a story saying a source told him Fisher had to be confronted by Billy Hunter and other union leaders to be talked out of agreeing to a 50/50 deal. The same article had the source suggesting Fisher was working with NBA Commissioner David Stern — if Fisher got the union to cave there would be post-career work for him with the league. Tuesday a follow-up article said Fisher was in denial about how the union felt about him.
Fisher has contacted his lawyer and released this statement through his publicist:
“The statements made in recent articles on the Fox Sports website are inexcusable. Among the many baseless accusations, to allege that I am working with the league for my personal gain is unequivocally false. The implication that I am doing anything but working in the best interests of the players is disgusting, defamatory and a flat out lie. I have issued a letter through my attorneys demanding a retraction for the libelous and defamatory stories the site and reporter have continued to publish.
Regardless of the media reports, the Players Association, our staff, Executive Director and Executive Committee are unified and working side by side to serve our players.
There should be no more distractions. We must continue to negotiate a fair deal for our players.”
This is a show for the press and the other players, as well as a shot across the bow at other agents (or players) looking to suggest things to the press. I say a show because under media legal precedent, Fisher is not about to get a retraction or any kind of satisfaction. So long as a credible source told Whitlock what he printed — and while we can certainly question why Whitlock wrote the piece or how seriously he has been following the lockout, I don’t doubt he was told that — there is no redress.
For the record, both Billy Hunter has denied a rift with Fisher and even David Stern issued a statement saying he has not been talking side deals with Fisher. Know this about Fisher — he’s about the most upstanding, straight forward guy in the association. He wouldn’t screw the union over for personal gain like that.
But the hardliners fear he is giving away too much — and agents lead that pack. So whoever leaked that story to Whitlock (and I’d be shocked if Whitlock was the first person the story was pitched to) was trying to send a shot across the bow of Fisher.
But sure, the union is strong and standing together as one. Not sure how we’d get any other message.