HoopsHype Billy Hunter rumors

May 16, 2013 Updates

Embattled former National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter filed a lawsuit against the NBPA, NBPA President Derek Fisher and Fisher's publicist and business partner, Jamie Wior, seeking compensation and punitive damages. "The suit cites several instances in which Fisher, Wior and certain players undermined Hunter's efforts to win an agreement that would benefit a broad range of NBA players, breaching terms of his employment and interfering with his ability to do his job as Executive Director," a news release said. "Once the (2011) lockout ended with an agreement in line with the owners' demands, Fisher and Wior waged a campaign to terminate his employment without cause and in violation of his contract." USA Today Sports

NBA players relieved Hunter, who had been under pressure for hiring practices and financial deals with his son's investment firm, of his duties during All-Star weekend Feb. 16 in Houston. "It's unfortunate that I must take this action against an organization where I had the privilege of working with many dedicated associates over 17 years," Hunter said in a statement. "I'm proud of our record of achievement on behalf of players during my tenure as Executive Director and will continue to stand up for their interests. But I cannot let stand attacks on my character or accept what has been done." USA Today Sports

Hunter's lawsuit alleges Fisher "actively manipulated the investigation" by the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison "by making false statements impugning Hunter's character." Hunter questions the validity of his termination "for cause" in the lawsuit because the reasons for his termination were not specified in the letter. He also uses Fisher's authority to sign his termination letter as proof Fisher also had the authority to sign Hunter to the contract in the first place. Fisher's signature also was on Hunter's 2010 employment contract, which the Paul- Weiss firm concluded in its report based on a nine-month investigation was not valid. CBSSports.com

Billy Hunter sued the National Basketball Players Association and president Derek Fisher on Thursday for defamation and breach of contract stemming from his dismissal as the union's executive director. The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Oakland, alleges that Fisher and his publicist, Jamie Wior, conspired to negotiate a secret deal to end the 2011 lockout and that their actions amounted to a breach of Hunter's employment contract with the NBPA. CBSSports.com

"Once the lockout ended with an agreement in line with the owners' demands, Fisher and Wior waged a campaign to terminate his employment without cause and in violation of his contract," the lawsuit alleges, according to a press release from Hunter's attorneys. Hunter is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages based on his termination, at the time of which he was owed $10.5 million in salary through 2015. CBSSports.com

March 11, 2013 Updates

Could the NBPA be working on a settlement with Billy Hunter behind the scenes? Sources indicate such talks could be picking up steam, though neither Hunter's representatives nor the union would comment Sunday. One source with knowledge of the situation said the two sides had been talking throughout the process and didn't believe there was any new momentum toward a potential deal. NBA.com

March 5, 2013 Updates

In speaking about Hunter, Stackhouse said, “We’re basketball players, we’ve trusted people to handle situations for us, and that was abused…Guys are on different teams in different cities, and nobody’s able to be on the day-to-day with the union, and that was taken advantage of.” Stackhouse will have a key role in deciding who will replace Hunter. “We have to go out and hire a search firm to find the brightest minds. We have to find an executive director eventually. We need to put a face to our union. For now, there are plenty of lawyers dealing with things, said Stackhouse.” BrooklynFans.com

He said that, ideally, the executive director should be someone removed from playing, with knowledge of the sport, to lead the NBPA in the future. One thing Stackhouse emphasized is the role the players need to play, “We have to be more in tune with what’s going on.” BrooklynFans.com

February 26, 2013 Updates
February 21, 2013 Updates

At All-Star weekend, LeBron James made his presence felt in places other than the arena. One such place was a meeting room, where James, according to reports from The New York Times, turned in a “spectacular” performance “cross-examining” lawyers who had prepared an audit of activities related to embattled Players Association executive director Billy Hunter — with that performance playing some role in Hunter’s firing. Which raised a question: How did James, with all his other endeavors, find the time to educate himself on the issues? “Me and J.J talked about it,” James said, referring to the team’s union representative and Players Association secretary James Jones. “I’ve also been reading a lot of articles. My team does a good job of sending me e-mails of what’s been going on, and I try to stay on it as much as I can. I’m not as far in it as J.J. is, but I’m far enough to know what I’m talking about, the situation that was going on. So it’s my opinion, and I felt like my opinion needed to be heard.” Palm Beach Post

February 19, 2013 Updates

By the time the meeting had ended, executive director Billy Hunter had been dismissed, and Stackhouse had been elected to a newly formed executive committee as its first vice president, helping to shepherd in what he called a “transitional period” for the NBPA. “The most important thing was rehashing the stuff with Hunter and making a decision to move forward,” Stackhouse told The Post Tuesday morning. “Obviously there was a lot of things that happened over the years, but we focused on moving forward right now. “We’ve had some system malfunctions, but the group we have now is a good group of guys that is committed to doing whatever it takes to put the union [in a better place]. We’re not in a bad place financially, or anything like that, but it could be better.” New York Post

“It’s really important,” Stackhouse said. “Our superstars got somewhat alienated under Hunter because there was so much focus on the middle class and the lower-level guys. “It was somewhat of a ‘divide-and-conquer’ [strategy] … it sounds great that you created a [higher] average salary and all of this type of thing, but it was more [about] having more of those guys on your side, even though it’s a superstar driven league. New York Post

As part of those criticisms of the union leadership, Stackhouse had publicly pushed for a more democratic process to go into every decision the group makes, among other changes. It was a big reason why he was so intent on being present at the meeting in Houston, and when he presented those views to the players, he found the room to be in agreement with him. “Everybody was very receptive to my ideas,” Stackhouse said. “Now, it’s just kind of getting in and locking those ideas down. Nobody really had, I guess, the guts to step up and challenge and say, ‘Everybody here works for us, we don’t work for you. You have to take some consideration for how we feel and what we want, because at the end of the day, it’s our union.’ “I think that’s established now.” New York Post

February 17, 2013 Updates

Billy Hunter's 17-year run as the National Basketball Players Association's executive director came to inglorious end Saturday. The NBPA executive committee comprised of players, including President Derek Fisher, fired the embattled Hunter amid serious concerns surrounding Hunter's business practices as union leader. "Today for the National Basketball Players Association was a day of change," Fisher said. "Players representatives in the general body of our association have made their voice and their votes heard. Today, the motion was raised, seconded and passed unanimously that we will terminate the employment of Billy Hunter." USA Today Sports

Also of serious concern is "purported agreement between the NBPA and Prim Capital," according to Paul, Weiss. Prim Capital is the firm that employs Hunter's son, Todd, and had a business relationship with the NBPA at $602,000 a year. "For example, we were informed repeatedly by Union employees over the course of the investigation that the 2005 Agreement was the NBPA's most recent contract with Prim," the report stated. "Theresa Messer reported that although she had raised with Prim the need for a written contract on multiple occasions and had been told that one would be prepared, she never received a new agreement. When asked about this document, Messer and Shelia Thompson, the members of the Finance Department responsible for managing the Union's relationship with Prim, reported that they had never seen it and had not known that it existed. USA Today Sports

All in all, there were some positives to take out of the day for the NBPA. One of the strongest voices in the meeting was that of LeBron James, the league’s biggest star. There was, top to bottom, a sense that players in the room needed to be more involved in their union, and give the job to someone on whom they will keep regular tabs, someone won’t deal in the shadows the way Hunter did, someone who won’t create and hide behind internal strife as a means of self-protection. “We will no longer be divided, misled and misinformed,” Fisher said. “This is our union. We’re taking it back.” Unfortunately, though, they won’t be taking it back without a fight. “I do not consider today's vote the end,” Hunter said, “only a different beginning.” Sporting News

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