After months of high-profile ejections and superstar frustrations in the NBA, and with tensions between players and officials so high that their respective heads of state spent more than two hours meeting on the matter in December, the two sides finally agree on one thing: Something must be done to relieve all this tension.
According to National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, that private meeting – which will include three players on one side, three officials on the other and potentially a moderator – will take place on Feb. 17 during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles. And for the sake of all involved, they’re hoping this rarest of scenes leads to some resolution.
“(The meeting) is shaping up,” Roberts, who hosted National Basketball Referees Association general counsel Lee Seham for that two-plus hour meeting last month at the NBPA’s office in New York, told USA TODAY Sports by phone. “The conversations will not be open to the public. I think if the aim is to have candid discussion between the players in attendance and the officials in attendance, I think it needs to be done without a third party, including, frankly, even perhaps me or others being there.”
Peter Vecsey: Billy Hunter’s 4½-year suit against the National Basketball Players Association regarding his alleged wrongful termination as the union’s executive director has been settled, I have learned exclusively. The $10.5 million Hunter had remaining on his contract when he was fired was being contested. Regrettably, my source is not privy to the agreed-upon out-of-court resolution reached last week. To inquire elsewhere would almost certainly tip off off the ball reporters.
Peter Vecsey: The fact Hunter’s successor, Michele Roberts, is doing her best to keep private the conclusion of the contentious conflict additionally leads me to believe the union will pay a sizeable portion of his lawyer fees, if not the nearly $3.5M. Four days ago, the union’s executive committee (Chris Paul is board president, LeBron James is one of eight vice presidents; both were deposed) and others owning a secret clearance, were alerted by memo the suit was a wrap.
Leaders from the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball players associations have helped unveil a universal declaration of player rights that is designed to establish a new approach to governing sports and protecting athletes. Among the 17 articles laid out in the declaration are rights to unionize and collectively bargain, express opinions freely and receive equal pay for equal work.
Per Liz Mullen of SBJ, the National Basketball Players Association has hired former NBA player, union president and ESPN broadcaster Antonio Davis to lead a program intended to help prepare players for life after basketball – “Off the Court.” So far, he is the only person working for the program and his title is to be determined. He will report directly to NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts.