Aug 21, 2013, 8:27 PM EDT
The days of veteran players with nothing more than fringe roles on NBA rosters heading up the players’ union are over for now, because for the first time in over a decade, a legitimate All-Star with plenty of name recognition has been elected as president.
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul was elected NBPA president on Wednesday at the union’s summer meeting in Las Vegas, a person familiar with the vote told USA TODAY Sports.
Paul, who was previously an NBPA vice president, now is charged with putting the players’ union in the right direction after approximately 18 months of instability and turmoil.
Paul replaces Derek Fisher, whose tenure ends in a shroud of controversy that resulted in the February firing of Billy Hunter, the union’s longtime executive director, and lawsuits, including Hunter’s lawsuit against the NBPA and Fisher in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The report was confirmed by the National Basketball Players Association, who congratulated Paul publicly via Twitter.
This is a huge step in a positive direction for a union that essentially got trampled financially during the last lockout, and having a star like Paul representing the league’s players gives more weight to the position than has been in place in previous years.
Patrick Ewing was the last recognizable name to hold the presidency, and his term ended in 2001.
LeBron James was reportedly mulling a bid, but ultimately declined the position in a move that was completely expected. James will have his voice heard, however, as he and Paul are close off the court, and the two were very vocal in meetings leading up to and during the lockout to try to get union leadership to hold out for the best deal possible.
Roger Mason was said to be seeking the position leading up to Wednesday’s vote, but he’s still without a team for next season, and despite his involvement in union matters over the years making him qualified, it’s tough to compete with both the experience and the star power that Paul brings to the job. Mason will still have a role, however, and was elected as first vice president.
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