LeBron James is not going to be the next president of the NBA players union. While I think his intent to have a bigger voice in union matters is serious, the fact is the man has a lot of commitments as the biggest player in the NBA — on the court trying to lead the Heat to a third straight title, and off the court selling Nikes in China and Powerbeats to everyone. Plus, he’s getting married soon.
But he gained notice when he said he thinks the union is going “backwards” right now.
Jerry Stackhouse, one of the union’s executive committee members who helped lead both the ouster of executive director Billy Hunter and then made sure Derek Fisher didn’t stay on as president, believes LeBron James misses the point. Stackhouse was tactful in an interview with CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, but he got his point across.
“He’s the best player in the game right now and we want the entire league to be involved,” Stackhouse said in a phone interview while in New York on union and other business. “But he needs to be informed in speaking on our union business….
Stackhouse, one of seven executive committee members elected at All-Star weekend in Houston this past February — when longtime executive director Billy Hunter was ousted — said James’ comments felt like a “kick in the stomach.”
“I don’t think he’s had any dialogue with anybody since the All-Star break, but it is what it is,” Stackhouse said. “To make that statement about where we are as a union right now, he was misinformed.”
While other stars have held the union presidency — from Bob Cousy back in the day to Patrick Ewing — it is different now with the number of off-the-court commitment the elite players have. Plus, there was a push to make sure the union didn’t just represent star players and had more common/role players in positions of power (your Derek Fishers). The only real name player on the NBA’s executive committee is Chris Paul (and he’s not expected to seek the presidency).
Next week the union is meeting to discuss the open presidency and executive director positions. LeBron has other obligations and will not be there. Most players, stars or not, will miss it. But at that meeting the union will have early discussions about changing the entire structure of player representation in the union (currently one guy is elected to represent each team, but that has it’s challenges with different levels of interest, plus guys get traded).
There are going to be some big changes coming to the union, all leading up to the 2017 showdown with the owners over the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. That’s when the next lockout is expected.