NBA Players Association executive director Billy Hunter was paid $3 million from July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012, a $600,000 — or 25% — raise over the previous year, according to NBPA documents filed Friday with the United States Department of Labor.
The finances and spending practices of the NBPA have been under scrutiny since at least April when several news outlets, including USA TODAY Sports, looked at the union’s payroll, which included Hunter’s daughter, Robyn Hunter; his daughter-in-law Megan Inaba; union payments to Prim Capital, a financial services company where Hunter’s son is partner; and a law firm, Steptoe & Johnson, which employs another of Hunter’s daughters, Alexis Hunter.
The scrutiny prompted the union to hire Theodore V. Wells Jr. and law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison for an independent review and financial audit. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is also investigating. The independent review and the U.S. investigation are not finished, according to two people familiar with the situation. They requested anonymity because of the ongoing inquiries.
Hunter, the longest current tenured union chief at 16 years, helped negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the NBA in late November, however the 149-day lockout resulted in the cancellation of the original preseason and a shortened 66-game season.
Hunter declined an interview through a spokesman. In April, Hunter told The New York Times, “There’s nothing illegal, 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.”
The NBPA’s recent labor filing revealed: Hunter’s daughter Robyn, director of player benefits and concierge services earned $89,695 in the latest Labor Department filing, up from $82,954 in the previous year’s filing.
Inaba, Hunter’s daughter-in-law, is the director of special events and sponsorships, and $167,100, a decrease of more than $6,000 compared to the previous year’s filing.
The NBPA paid Prim Capital $594,900 from July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012, up from 576,824 in the previous year’s filing.
The union paid $1.367 million to the law firm Steptoe &Johnson, which employs Hunter’s daughter Alexis as special counsel, for legal fees.
Hunter’s relation to NBPA employees raised concerns, and internal strife has fractured the union. NBPA president Derek Fisher wanted to conduct an internal review of business practices and initially was met with resistance, leading the executive committee to ask Fisher to resign in April. The remaining executive committee members, comprised of players, voted 8-0 that they “lost confidence in Derek Fisher’s ability to act as Union President and requested Derek’s resignation.” Fisher has not resigned.
For the NBA lockout, the union paid $2.9 million to law firms Steptoe & Johnson, Dewey & LeBoeuf ($1.318 million), which is lawyer Jeffrey Kessler’s old firm, and Boies, Schiller and Flexner ($221,167). The NFLPA paid at least $6.5 million for “CBA matters” in its most recent filing with the labor department.