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NBA Players Union chief Hunter placed on indefinite leave of absence

Feb 1, 2013, 11:18 AM EDT

Billy Hunter AP

UPDATED 7:50 pm: Billy Hunter’s attorney responded to the day’s events, speaking with Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

“I am deeply troubled by the lack of fundamental fairness shown my client by a group whose authority to take such action is highly questionable,” attorney Thomas Ashley said. “The act of placing my client on administrative leave is not supported in either the Constitution or Bylaws of the NBPA.

“Furthermore, Mr. Hunter was not given any opportunity to respond to the Paul, Weiss report prior to the time that a decision was made to place him on administrative leave,” the lawyer said.

The bylaws don’t allow the executive committee to remove the director? Who wrote these bylaws?

Hunter plans a longer response to the charges against him in the report prepared by the law firm of Paul, Weis — a report requested by the executive committee (and discussed below.

This is all coming to a head All-Star weekend? My guess is the main question will end up being how much does the NBPA end up paying Hunter to go away. Because he’s not going away quietly.

11:18 am: For the past couple weeks, NBA players union executive director Billy Hunter has been scrambling to save his job, but it has not worked.

Hunter has been placed on an indefinite leave of absence by the NBPA’s executive committee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network. This comes just weeks before a major union meeting All-Star weekend in Houston.

Hunter has been embattled basically since the lockout. A number of agents — people who make their living being aggressive in negotiations — thought Hunter’s strategy was too passive and that the players gave up too much in the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But the recent fuel to the fire was a report by an independent law firm that raised a number of ethical issues around Hunter and his management of the union. Those issues included a finding that his latest, $18 million contract had not been properly approved by the player representatives. There also were questions of nepotism as well as some odd investment choices with union money. All of the questions came back to the basic question of if Hunter was doing what was best for the players or what was best for himself.

Hunter has made moves in recent weeks to save his job, including letting go of his family members that worked for the union. Hunter has maintained that the report found no criminal wrongdoing and he is best to make changes to what was wrong.

But it has not been enough to stem the wave of momentum against him. Super agent Arn Tellem, with a large and influential client base, sent a letter to those he represents urging them to vote Hunter out of office.

This will all come to a head All-Star weekend, but it appears soon the NBA players union will have a new man at the top soon.

What that really means for fans is five years from now, when the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations takes place, both the union and NBA will have different men in charge. Don’t for a second think that means things will go more smoothly.

  1. acdc363 - Feb 1, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    Awesome article Kurt. All the info I needed.

  2. zacksdad - Feb 1, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Wasn’t most of these concerns also made by Derek Fisher. Derek should be hired to represent the players. He seemed to fight for them the most.

    Also, Good Riddance of this thieving POS.

    • kavika6 - Feb 2, 2013 at 1:48 AM

      Fisher is as bad as Hunter. Glad he’s gone too.

  3. mogogo1 - Feb 1, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    Hunter is as crooked as a bent nail. Wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see him go to jail. He should have been toast back when Derek Fisher first called him out on the nepotism. They were slow to get rid of this clown, but glad to see him gone.

  4. mazblast - Feb 1, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    He’s not gone just yet. It’s probable that he’ll be tossed, and it’s likely that they’re trying to work out a “retirement package” so he and they can save face.

    However, given the way the Executive Committee rallied around this creep when Fisher first (and rightly) called him out, I don’t rule out the chance that he’ll return. If that’s the case, look for passive voice statements like “mistakes were made” and the mandatory “Jesus has shown me the way to be better” manure.

    I hope that all those spineless weasels who supported Hunter over Fisher will now contact him and say, “You were right and I was wrong”. zacksdad is right, Derek Fisher should be leading the union. I’d love to see his first meeting with the union staff–“Time to evaluate your loyalties. If your family, faith if any, the players, and the union don’t come before Billy Hunter, clean your desk out now and get the f**k out of here.”

  5. cosanostra71 - Feb 1, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    A lawyer fighting for his own interests ahead of his clients? I’m shocked!

    • teambringitstrong - Feb 1, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      Ah yes, do tell us how long have you been practicing or how many times have you had to defend yourself in court over your libelous comments?

      • cosanostra71 - Feb 1, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        There’s always one.

      • badintent - Feb 2, 2013 at 12:24 AM

        I second the motion , the motion is passed. New Order of business. Mr. Fisher , you have the floor.Your 10:00 appointment is here. Mr.Jeff Nitvisky from the Justice Department to see you about Mr. Hunter. And the State district attorney general . Yes, they came together.

  6. jhuck92 - Feb 1, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Kurt, I’m not sure if this article’s title is just a coincidence or a clever play on words. In any case, Hunter was indeed a head hunter.

  7. skids003 - Feb 1, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Is he on paid leave or unpaid?

  8. sdelmonte - Feb 1, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Hunter deserves to be out.

    But the agents really shouldn’t be part of this discussion.

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