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SBD/February 4, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies
NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter Stripped Of All Duties During Indefinite Suspension
Published February 4, 2013
PLAYERS WEIGH IN: Hornets G and NBPA VP Roger Mason Jr. said, "Personally, (I have a) lot of respect for Billy. I know he's a man of integrity. I know this is a tough time for our union. We have to get the facts. ... We'll get to the bottom of everything and everything will come to light at some point." CBSSPORTS.com’s Matt Moore reported Suns F and NBPA player rep Jared Dudley and Knicks F Steve Novak are "among players voicing their concern with Hunter.” Mason “seemingly voted in favor of placing Hunter on the leave of absence, as the vote was reportedly unanimous” (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/1). In Boston, Gary Washburn reported Celtics F and player rep Paul Pierce on Friday “called for the removal” of Hunter (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/3). In Salt Lake City, Bill Oram wrote Jazz G and player rep Mo Williams views Hunter's removal as "important stuff.” Williams said, "We are going forward as a union to try and get everything back on track. Obviously some things have been going on that we, as players, are trying to get more information about." Williams said that last season’s lockout “made players more aware of union issues” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/2).
HUNTER OR THE HUNTED? The BOSTON GLOBE’s Washburn wrote, "There appears to be a split in the ranks on Hunter, with many players wildly supportive because he has served as a father figure, and others believing he was soundly defeated in the last two labor negotiations by commissioner David Stern.” The question that will be answered in two weeks is “whether Hunter’s major adjustments have come too late.” Many players will “ask themselves whether Hunter would have made these changes” had NBPA President Derek Fisher “not called for this independent review” (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/3). SPORTS ON EARTH’s Gwen Knapp wrote Hunter’s behavior as leader of the union “has empowered the wrong people.” His contract “may not have spelled this out, but Hunter had to be pristine.” He had the “fates of hundreds of young men” in his hands and “allowing for a distinct appearance of impropriety amounted to a fumble.” His actions within the NBA “ultimately abetted agents who want more control of the union.” Hunter “weakened the ground below unions in the next rounds of negotiations” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 2/3).
NEXT ITEM ON THE AGENDA: SPORTING NEWS’ David Steele wrote the process of the NBA players “shoving Hunter out has begun,” and the evidence “against him is damning.” But as “usually is the case, they’d better have an idea about who can do a better job for them the next time the league goes after them.” Steele: “Against the will of this generation of owners, determined to take everything and give nothing, can any union leader, clean hands or not, expect to win?” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 2/2). TRUE HOOPS’ Henry Abbott wrote, "Hunter's power, we have since learned, had grown to be nearly limitless within the union's gleaming Harlem headquarters.” Hunter's opposition “was absent, silent or (in the case of Pat Garrity a few years ago) shouted down.” Abbott: “How much better off might NBA players have been simply to have had an executive director focused more on executive directing?” Perhaps now, with Hunter “on indefinite leave and longtime staff attorney Ron Klempner filling in, the union can, for the first time in a long time, focus on serving the players more and the union's leader less” (ESPN.com, 2/1).