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Billy Hunter sends another letter to players urging unity

Nov 1, 2011, 11:43 PM EDT

Billy Hunter AP

Is this starting to sound a little desperate to anyone else?

One day after NBA players union President Derek Fisher sent a letter to players dismissing media reports and urging unity, union director Billy Hunter sent out a similar letter reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

He adds that the union’s negotiating committee is getting together Thursday in New York to go over strategy. There are currently no meetings scheduled between the owners and players to end the lockout, which as of Tuesday had stretched into what would have been the start of the NBA season.

In his letter, Hunter also refutes reports that he and Fisher had a falling out and are on different pages of the negotiating playbook.

“Derek is a fearless defender of player rights both at the bargaining table and behind the scenes, and he carries out his duties as president with the same degree of courage, focus and tenacity that he has exhibited on the court as a five-time champion,” Hunter said.

Amid a push by members of the NBA players union to refute rumors and signs of a divide, Hunter told the players they need to stand together.

“Your role is an important one,” Hunter told players in the letter, obtained by ESPN.com. “The owners need to know that we will stand strong until they are ready to finish negotiating a fair deal — not one reached with preconditions, and not one forced down our throat with the threat of missed paychecks….

“Without question, we have given more than the owners, but at bottom, we are determined to defend the principles we have fought for throughout — guaranteed contracts, healthy minimums, fair maximums, a strong middle class, and a true market for free agency.

A second unity letter in a couple days still has the feel of a union trying hard to keep its members in line. It feels like there is a growing divide. (It feels like that among the owners as well.)

But for now the players are standing strong. As are the owners. Which means fans willing to spend money have no NBA basketball, but a bunch of labor lawyers continue to make big bucks. Only in America.

  1. lucky5934 - Nov 2, 2011 at 5:44 AM

    Even DeMaurice Smith is thinking this guy is in over his head.

  2. sonofsambowie - Nov 2, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    You have to give Hunter his due based on track record, but I think he’s barking up the wrong tree this time.

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