The drama surrounding NBPA Director Billy Hunter shows no signs of ending, despite the fact that the controversial figure has now been relieved of his duties. Hunter and the spending habits of the NBA Player Association has been the subject of an independent investigation carried out by Theodore V. Wells Jr. and law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
The latest twist in the story is that Hunter has now been unanimously voted out of the NBPA meaning he is removed from his duties as the executive director immediately. Players Association president Derek Fisher confirmed the news on Saturday:
“We will no longer be divided, misled, misinformed. This is our union and we have taken it back, we want to make it clear that we are here to serve only the best interests of the players. No threats, no lies, no distractions will stop us from serving our memberships.”
The suspicious financial activity surrounding Billy Hunter, which includes his own $3 million pay packet from July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012 has proved too much for the NBPA. The controversy following Hunter also includes several family members of the former executive director’s on the NBPA payroll, including his daughter Robyn, and daughter-in-law Megan Inaba. Eyebrows were also raised when USA TODAY Sport reported that there has been union payments to Prim Capital, a financial company where Hunter’s son is partner, and payment to a law firm (Steptoe & Johnson) where Hunter’s daughter Alexis works.
Two weeks ago the union put Hunter on an indefinite leave of absence after the report carried out by Theodore V. Wells Jr. and law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison proved damaging. Hunter denies any wrong doing, but the report nevertheless put pressure on the executive director.
“No matter the explanation, when viewed collectively, his choices created the appearance that he operated the union in part for the benefit of his family and friends.”
Hunter is still owed $10.5 million dollars as a part of his remaining contract, although whether he is entitled to that money remains to be seen as the validity of the contract is up for debate. While Fisher has predicted the situation will continue in an “ugly way”, Billy Hunter has released a statement claiming he has not heard about being ousted, while he also condemned the NBPA.
“I have yet to receive any notification, other than published news reports, that the NBPA has terminated my employment. If accurate, it is indicative of the extremely troubling process followed by the NBPA during the past few weeks. During the days and weeks ahead, my legal team and I will begin carefully reviewing the actions taken and statements made against me in the meeting room in my absence. I look forward to gathering the evidence showing how certain individuals made sure the outcome was pre-ordained.
After 17 years of representing NBA players during CBA negotiations and defending their rights in other proceedings, not once was there an occasion where one side was denied an opportunity to be heard. The current interim regime in control of the NBPA has set a terrible precedent for the union. It violates every tenet of fairness upon which the union was founded. Now that this has occurred, I will continue to examine all of my options, including whether the fairness that was absent from the NBPA process might be available in a different forum. In addition, given the legitimate legal and governance questions surrounding the eligibility of the members who voted and the adherence, or lack thereof, to the constitution and bylaws, I do not consider today’s vote the end, only a different beginning. My legal representatives and I will resume communication with the NBPA to determine how to best move forward in the best interests of all parties.”