Billy Hunter Rumors
Hunter was the union’s executive director from 1996 until his ousting in 2013. He was supposed to create a board for the NBPA Foundation, but didn’t, and when its first director was dismissed, Hunter essentially controlled the fine money, too. Hunter was fired by the union for a bunch of reasons, all of them outlined in the “Weiss Report,” an exhaustive analysis of all union business under Hunter’s direction. Most of the reasons had to do with his actions outside of the foundation. But, according to the report, Hunter approved a $20,000 contribution out of fine money to a charity of which he was a board member, and five other contributions, worth $33,500, to charities in Oakland, Calif., where he lived.
Falk: From the very beginning Billy Hunter was very, very opaque. He did not provide much information. He didn’t communicate much. I told my clients, “Listen, this is your livelihood and if I can’t access Billy, then you have to get involved and know what’s going on and sit down and plan out strategies on how to protect your interests.” They’re intelligent people. Patrick is a very intelligent man. Juwan Howard is a very intelligent man. Alonzo is a very intelligent man. Dikembe Mutombo is a very intelligent man. People accused me of trying to hijack the union—you couldn’t pay me a billion dollars a year to run the union. I have zero interest in doing that. But I think if I’m going to do my job for my clients, it’s important that I understand the dynamics of what’s going on. And so that’s why I had to get involved.
Elie: A lot of the stars wanted to get back and play. I remember John Stockton in Vegas trying to speak out, and a lot of the guys just shot him down. It got a little ugly at times. Hunter: It was Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, and Adam Keefe. They got up and said we were making enough money and we should be happy with the 53 percent and take the 53 percent and this, that, and the other. McIlvaine: I remember that not being a popular sentiment. It seemed popular amongst guys with one particular owner.
McIlvaine: We once kicked Jack Haley out of a meeting because he had recently retired. He was there as a mole. Years later he told me that ownership had somebody listening on every call and knew exactly what we were strategizing. I don’t know whether this was Jack blowing smoke, but there were certain players that were sympathetic to owners. Hunter: Stern would always tell me, “I got my people everywhere. I know as much about what you’re doing as you know. I got my eyes and ears.” Clearly, I think there was someone amongst the players, but there also may have been people within my office and on staff. I have my suspicions, but I’m not going to disclose that.
Hunter: He talked to me for like 15-20 minutes. Before we hung up, he said, “Promise me you’ll call David Stern.” After he hung up, two minutes later I called David. I remember that when I called David that he was anticipating my call. I don’t know if Leonard had called beforehand and informed him that I would be calling; I didn’t leave Leonard with the impression that I would call. But David was receptive and said he wanted to get together and he was hopeful we could work something out.
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.