Skip to content

New report suggests financial, ethical issues at NBA players union

Jan 17, 2013, 6:39 PM EST

NBPA Meet To Discuss Current CBA Offer Getty Images

UPDATE 6:39 pm: Union Executive Director Billy Hunter released a statement. What you think of it pretty much describes what you think of Hunter. Here it is in its entirety:

“The NBPA is currently reviewing the full independent special report simultaneous with the public. While I strongly disagree with some of the findings contained in the report, I am pleased it recognized that I have not engaged in criminal acts nor was I involved in misappropriation of union funds. Regarding my contract — my third in a long tenure of the organization — it was ratified by the NBPA Executive Committee and signed by President Derek Fisher. I believe the contract and extensions are valid. I am pleased to discuss with the Player Representative board any concerns about my contract.

“In my work for the NBPA, my priority has always been to promote the interests of the players. Through the benefit of hindsight, as with any executive, there are always things that could have been done better. But on the major issue, I am pleased that this report has confirmed what I have always known and said, I did nothing illegal.

“During my tenure, the salaries of NBA players have more than doubled and they are the highest paid athletes in the world. When I arrived at the NBPA in 1996 the challenges were significant. The Union’s financial liabilities exceeded its assets. Today the Union is solvent and its financial future is secure. The Union and players endured two lengthy and costly lockouts. Our greatest accomplishment is the unity and solidarity that the players maintained throughout those very difficult rounds of bargaining.

“Prior to the report’s issuance, the NBPA began implementation of some of the recommendations suggested, including a revised hiring policy and a new anti-nepotism policy. I look forward to continuing my work with the NBPA, adopting additional recommendations from the report and opening a new chapter of NBPA governance. I believe through these steps the NBPA will emerge from this review a stronger organization and continue to meet the needs of its membership. I will be reaching out to the membership to discuss the report and address ways to pursue the best path forward for the NBPA.”

3:47 pm: During the NBA lockout there was clearly a divide within the National Basketball Players Association (the NBA players union) — it was sort of “are you with executive director Billy Hunter or not?”

The lockout ending didn’t end the dispute. On Thursday the results of an investigation into the union raised a lot of questions about how the union does business. That includes Hunter’s own $15 million contract not going through the proper approval process.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network has the details on what the report by the firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison found. For the record they found no criminal issues with the union, but a whole lot of red flags on other issues saying Hunter put personal issues and interests ahead of the players and the union.

As previously reported by Yahoo! Sports, Hunter “never told the union’s executive committee or player representatives that his current employment contract, which was executed in 2010, was not properly approved under the union’s By-Laws, even though by at least November 2011 outside counsel to the Union had told Mr. Hunter that the necessary approval had not occurred and remained necessary.”

• As detailed in an April report by Y! Sports, Hunter “involved family and friends in union business as employees or vendors without full disclosure and the disinterested approval of the union’s officers and directors.”

• “Created an atmosphere at the NBPA that discouraged challenges to his authority, including by allowing the union’s former general counsel, Gary Hall, to stop former secretary-treasurer Pat Garrity from speaking freely about conflicts of interest to the executive committee.”

So, he acted like every other executive in a suit in New York.

Hunter, no doubt, will challenge all the claims made. I’m not going to guess who is right and who is wrong. In a lot of ways this is a power struggle so everything is spin.

The real question is what is next. The union as a whole is scheduled to meet All-Star Weekend in Houston, you can bet this comes up. Is it time for a change in leadership at the union? If so, what direction do they go? Or, is it better to let Hunter stay and try to clean up issues.

Why it matters to fans is this — in five years you can bet one side is going to opt out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was just formalized and signed more than a year ago. Who sits at the negotiating table when that happens matters. For the owners it will be Adam Silver, the current deputy commissioner tagged to take over the big chair when David Stern steps down in 2014.

Who sits in the chair for the players union (along with economic and other factors) will determine whether things get resolved or if the NBA goes the way of the NHL with its labor fights.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Rajon Rondo out Monday, doctors continuing to evaluate facial injury

    Feb 1, 2015, 1:12 PM EST

    Rajon Rondo Rajon Rondo

    Rondo suffered the injury during the Mavs’ Saturday win over the Magic.

  2. Pistons fans boo Josh Smith in his return, savor his struggles

    Feb 1, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    Josh Smith AP

    Pistons fans booed Smith every time he touched the ball.

  3. Marshawn Lynch played basketball exactly how you think he would

    Feb 1, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    Marshawn Lynch AP

    Before helping Seattle Seahawks reach Super Bowl, Lynch was high school teammate of Leon Powe

  4. Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha out six to eight weeks

    Feb 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    Brooklyn Nets v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Kent Bazemore moves into starting lineup with DeMarre Carroll also out

  5. Timberwolves short Kevin Love an All-Star appearance in tribute video

    Jan 31, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    Kevin Love Kevin Love

    Minnesota fans boo Love during pregame intros, cheer him during tribute video

  6. Enes Kanter talks trash before, gloats after Utah’s win over Warriors

    Jan 31, 2015, 6:30 PM EST

    Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Kanter was dismissive of both Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut before Friday night’s win.

  7. Kevin Love expecting boos when he returns to Minnesota with Cavaliers

    Jan 31, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    Cleveland plays the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday.

  8. Report: Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio set to return Monday vs. Dallas

    Jan 31, 2015, 3:21 PM EST

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    With Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin back in the rotation the Timberwolves will not be such a pushover.

  9. Gerald Green receives first DNP in two seasons with Suns, team shoots down trade rumors

    Jan 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

    Green being unexpectedly held out led some to speculate that he might be dealt.

  10. Derrick Rose half-court alley-oop to Jimmy Butler (VIDEO)

    Jan 31, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    Jimmy Butler, Alex Len Jimmy Butler, Alex Len

    They’re not winning, but they still produce some highlight plays.

  11. Nike unveils latest signature shoe for Kobe Bryant, the Kobe X (PHOTOS)

    Jan 31, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    150114_KOBE_X_0093_v5-xlr_37350

    The tenth in Bryant’s signature line returns to a low-top silhouette, and the first colorway is inspired by Kobe’s early morning high dive as he recovered from Achilles surgery.

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (8528)
  2. C. Anthony (7658)
  3. L. James (7511)
  4. D. Howard (7416)
  5. R. Rubio (7144)
  1. M. Conley (7046)
  2. K. Bryant (6818)
  3. N. Young (6808)
  4. J. Butler (6578)
  5. D. Wade (6534)