Tag: players union

Billy Hunter

Billy Hunter speaks regarding nepotism issue, tumult in union


It’s been a mess.

NBA players union president Derek Fisher wanted not just an audit but a full business review of the union’s practices, something he said he got approved by a quorum of the executive committee — the New York Times got the minutes of that call which said there was 5-0 vote in favor, although some on the call dispute that. A few days later the full executive committee looked at it again after executive director Billy Hunter asked them to and the committee both killed the deal and asked for Fisher’s resignation. Something he has refused to do.

Hunter sat down with Howard Beck of the New York Times about the incident for the first time. He is not sure his relationship with Fisher can be repaired.

“I think the relationship has suffered seriously, suffered a severe injury,” Hunter, referring to himself and Fisher, said in an interview. “And the question is whether or not we’ve suffered irreparable damage. And it may very well be that that’s the case.

“I’m sure he doesn’t trust me,” Hunter continued, adding, “I don’t want to be in a situation where I got to look over my back every five minutes.”

Hunter was eager to shoot down the nepotism charges that flow out of a story on how the union has paid $4.8 million to his children or firms they are associated with. In addition to those is a Yahoo report that the union wanted to invest $7 million in a bank with ties to one of Hunter’s sons, a story that also details a spider web of family ties to union business.

He said each of these were good business decisions — his relatives are lawyers or have MBAs — and that both Fisher and the executive committee knew about them and approved them.

“Let me say this to you: My children are highly credentialed,” Hunter said. “In many instances, they’re being paid at or below the market….

“There’s nothing illegal,” Hunter said, “and you’re not going to find anything illegal, you or anybody else, if that’s what you’re looking for. I’m not afraid of that.”

While there likely is nothing illegal, a number of attorneys and others have stepped forward to say the hiring of family should raise ethical red flags.

NBA Commissioner Stern said during his annual pre-playoffs press conference Wednesday that he wants no part of this union mess. Smart man — he has to work with whoever has power and whatever shape the union is in when this is done.

“It’s interesting, but it doesn’t concern me because they will work it out,” Stern said.

They will. Eventually. But it could get a lot messier before we all get there.

Fisher asked to resign as players’ union president in fight for soul of organization

billy-hunter, derek fisher

During the NBA lockout there were rumors and reports of conflict between NBA players union president Derek Fisher and union executive director Billy Hunter. They pushed and pulled in different ways. But for the sake of the negotiations, they tried for the most part to present a unified front.

But now those cracks have deepened and gone public for all to see — a fight for control of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) is on.

Hunter and the NBPA executive committee have asked Fisher to resign as president, according to both Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo and Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

That came after Fisher had pushed for an independent audit of the finances and practices of the union, an audit that was killed by Hunter and the executive committee earlier in the week. We’ll let Wojnarowski explain more.

Fisher has flatly refused to step down and has been working to gather a coalition of players to challenge Hunter’s business and financial practices, sources told Yahoo! Sports. Fisher has told peers he will not resign, but rather fight Hunter for further transparency regarding the NBPA.

This showdown has been building for months and escalated in the past week when Fisher initially convinced the executive committee to vote for an independent auditor to look into Hunter’s regime. Nevertheless, Hunter helped to convince the eight members of the committee to change course and turn on Fisher.

There are plenty of agents and players who thought Hunter didn’t take a hard line enough stance during the lockout negotiations. To be honest, if he had we wouldn’t be talking playoff races today. But the animosity from those negotiations still lingers in the union (and among ownership, to a degree).

This isn’t going to end soon. Or quietly. From SI’s Amick:

But according to a source with knowledge of the situation, Fisher’s strong suspicions remain about the way in which the union’s business has been run in recent years. The source said that support outside of the union is growing among players and agents. And while the executive committee has made its stance known, there are plenty of others among the league’s 400-plus players who were highly critical of Hunter and the union during the lockout that ended in December and are believed to be behind this latest push.

Fasten your seatbelts, we may be in for a bumpy ride.

Lockout talks have stopped, things looking extremely grim

David Stern, Adam Silver

Just when things were starting to look up — federal mediators! Marathon bargaining sessions! Small concessions from both sides! — it’s starting to look very, very grim for NBA fans once again. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, talks between the owners and the players have stopped, and the lockout has suffered what Wojnarowski calls a “huge setback”:

Talks on a 50-50 BRI split broke down, and labor talks have ended, source tells Y! No new meetings scheduled. Huge setback in this lockout.

We’ll keep you posted on any new updates as they come in, but things are not looking good at all right now.

First word from today’s union meeting: some players ready to cave to owners’ demands

Billy Hunter

We interrupt your otherwise barren, locked out NBA programming to bring a minor update from the Players Union meeting in Los Angeles today. JaVale McGee was one of apparently few players that attended today’s meeting, and spoke with SI.com‘s Sam Amick on his way out. Here are Amick’s tweets from L.A.:

Wizards’ JaVale McGee had another meeting 2 go 2. On way out out, says “Everybody knows we’ve got 2 get more people 2 come to the meetings.”

That, in itself, isn’t great news for Billy Hunter and the union. With David Stern puffing up his chest and imposing arbitrary deadlines all over the place, it’s more important than ever that all of the players are on the same page and working to maintain their collective stance. Lockouts breed dissension. It’s natural that with cashflow stopped and games being stricken from the schedule that the players side would get antsy, but meetings like this can help to clarify and reinforce the union’s message. That function was still served, but only to the apparently limited number of players who actually bothered to show.

More McGee: “There’s definitely some guys in there saying that they’re ready to fold, but the majority are willing to stand strong.”

This is nothing that both we and the owners didn’t already know; there will be players who just want to get the damn thing done already, who wear their t-shirts just like everyone else but slide closer and closer to the breaking point. That’s expected and natural. What’s not expected is that McGee would come right out and say it. Even knowing that JaVale McGee is JaVale McGee, this was a ridiculously foolish soundbite, and one that very clearly and directly betrays the interests of the NBPA. Smooth move, JaVale…unless you’re actually among the “some players,” and are ready to fold, in which case this was a surprisingly subtle and clever act of sabotage.

UPDATE (6:38 PM EST): Well, it didn’t take too long for JaVale McGee to hilariously try to issue a public dismissal. Shortly after reports from multiple journalists in L.A. began making the rounds, McGee tweeted the following:

I never said anyone is ready to fold! Media always wanna turn it!

Good one, JaVale. These aren’t reporters merely jotting down notes hurriedly on a notepad; there are any number of audio recordings of McGee saying those exact words. Those reporting McGee’s comments are among the most trusted in the business, and yet he still tries to discredit them with one of the oldest — and most outdated — tricks in the athlete’s PR book.

Another pertinent tweet on the subject came from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Player who attended NBPA meeting in Los Angeles texts: “Don’t believe (JaValle) McGee.”

Take from that what you will.

UPDATE (7:04 PM EST): Just in case there was any doubt, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times has posted the audio from McGee’s press scrum.

Report: Owners first asked for $45 million hard salary cap


When you enter a bargaining session, the first thing you ask for is your entire wish list. Everything you could possibly want. Some of the things on the list you need, some you’d be willing to give up. But come in asking for the moon.

Like a $45 million hard salary cap if you are the NBA owners.

According to the Sports Business Journal (via The Sporting News), that is exactly what the owners have asked for in their first proposal a year ago. SBJ got a hold of an April 26 memo from players’ union executive director Billy Hunter to the players just days before the owners second proposal was delivered to players.

The memo’s most eye-popping element is the league’s proposed $45 million hard cap, which cuts the current $58 million soft cap by nearly 25 percent….

The inclusion of non-guaranteed player contracts, while a negotiating point, also represents a radical shift for players who have long benefited from guaranteed deals. Taken together, Hunter felt compelled to send out the missive.

“The nature of the owners’ demands is so onerous that I feel it is imperative to reinforce the message of our recent team meetings with this letter,” Hunter wrote in the memo.

The latest proposal from owners talks about phasing in a hard cap over several years. It also does away with guaranteed contracts, having provision for at least a buyout of all deals at a steeply discounted rate. Also, things like a sign-and-trade proposal is out the window.

The real question is this: How many owners are hawks and how many are doves?

A lockout in July that kills Summer League and pushes back free agency is a very different animal than costing the league games. During a recession when the average person is hurting. The NBA has a tremendous momentum and has to see the bad press the NFL is getting right now. Both sides have to see the warning signs.

When push comes to shove, when games and paychecks are on the line, are the majority of owners hawks willing to give up games — maybe half a season or more — to get their cap? Or are the majority of owners more level headed and willing to comprimise — especially if they get an additional few points of Basketball Related Income to keep?

We are not going to know how hard either side really wants to fight until we get into late August and beyond, sadly.