SBD/April 24, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Questions About Whether Law Firm Was Properly Retained The Latest In NBPA Saga

As the standoff continues between the NBPA Exec Committee and Thunder G and union President Derek Fisher, questions are being asked about whether DC-based law firm Patton Boggs was properly retained for a review of the union’s business practices. Sources said Patton Boggs was hired after Fisher held a conference call with four other Exec Committee members on April 13. Five NBPA player members are needed to have a quorum, and it would have taken at least a majority vote (three votes) of that group to hire an outside firm. Patton Boggs informed NBPA staff on April 15 that it was retained, sources said. But now, according to two sources, two of the five players are saying they personally did not vote, and a third said he dropped off the call before a vote was taken. Another source said there was a vote taken and that the measure passed 5-0, adding that there were minutes taken of the conference call that were provided to Exec Committee members. This source declined to provide the minutes, saying they represent confidential union business. All sources requested anonymity, saying they did not want to be identified discussing internal union strife. Attempts to reach Fisher for comment through his representatives were unsuccessful. Christina Sarchio, the Patton Boggs partner who sources said contacted the NBPA about the business review, declined comment via e-mail. NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter declined comment via text message. The April 13 conference call was a players-only call that Hunter was not invited to join, sources said. The full, nine-member NBPA Exec Committee held a subsequent call on April 16, during which the members voted to reverse the decision to hire Patton Boggs, multiple sources said. Sources said Fisher joined that call late. It was not clear why the committee would have had a vote to reverse the decision to hire the law firm if the firm was not properly hired in the first place. “There was a lot of confusion about what happened on Friday (April 13),” one source said. “They began sorting it out on Monday (April 16).”

NO CONFIDENCE VOTE: The Exec Committee last Wednesday convened another conference call and voted 8-0 that they had “no confidence” in Fisher’s leadership and asked for his resignation as player president. Fisher was not on that call. The NBPA issued a press release on Friday announcing that the Exec Committee voted 8-0 for Fisher’s resignation. “The Executive Committee based its decision on numerous instances over the past six months where Fisher engaged in conduct detrimental to the union, including acting in contravention of the players’ best interests during collective bargaining, declining to follow the NBPA Constitution, and failing to uphold the duties of the Union President,” the NBPA press release stated. Fisher responded later in the evening Friday with his own press release vowing not to resign and stating the allegations against him were defamatory. Fisher stated that an independent review of the business practices and finances of the NPBA should be conducted. Fisher: “I have tried to convey the legal and moral obligations we have as union officers. Sadly, the Executive Committee has now waged a personal character attack on me to divert attention from the real issue. The truth."
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