Kobe Bryant Calls For NBA's Star Players To Take More Active Role In Union
Lakers G Kobe Bryant yesterday said that it is “time for the NBA’s stars to take a stronger role as players deliberate the fate” of suspended NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter and the “direction of the union,” according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. Bryant "included himself in that mandate." He added that "it was an issue he had been discussing" with Clipper G Chris Paul. Bryant said the NBPA "looks like a mess." He added, "We might want to grab the bull by its horns, so to speak, and lead the charge a little bit.” Beck noted Paul during the '12 NBA lockout was the “only All-Star on the union’s executive committee, which was otherwise stocked with bench players and players out of the league.” The committee has since “lapsed into virtual irrelevance, with seven of the nine seats open.” Meanwhile, at least 11 teams are "believed to be strongly in favor of firing Hunter," with 16 votes needed to remove him. Lakers G and player rep Steve Blake said that the team had “not yet held a vote to determine its position.” But Beck writes given NBPA President Derek Fisher’s "long tenure with the Lakers, and his close relationship with Bryant, it is considered certain that the Lakers will stand with him” (NYTIMES.com, 2/5). Hornets G and NBPA VP Roger Mason Jr. indicated that Hunter’s future “is likely to be decided" at the NBAPA's annual meeting on Feb. 16. Mason said, "Absolutely, there has to be a vote by the players. It’s a majority type situation and that’s the way it should be. Everybody is part of our league and a part of this union" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 2/6). Former NBAer Pat Garrity said that it is “hard to see" how Hunter will keep his job. Garrity said, “If this was any CEO of a decent-sized organization, would they be able to survive this? I just don’t see how they would. ... Four years ago, there was enough stuff to raise questions about judgment and ethics. It’s disappointing that it took another level of egregiousness for people to start taking notice” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 2/5).
NEXT MAN UP? In Toronto, Kevin McGran cites a source as saying that NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr is “not going for the trifecta -- heading up a third sports union -- despite reports linking him to the NBA” (TORONTO STAR, 2/6). A source said, "Don is very happy in his current role and has absolutely no plans to leave the NHLPA. In the future, should the basketball players seek his guidance due to his vast sports union experience, there is little doubt Don would provide that, but he won't be leaving his position at the NHLPA" (Liz Mullen, Staff Writer). YAHOO SPORTS’ Adrian Wojnarowski cited sources as saying that ATF Acting Director B. Todd Jones “will be a target should a change be made” atop the NBPA. The sources said that the union will “use an executive search firm to coordinate the process.” President Obama has been “working to have Jones, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, confirmed as the full-time ATF director” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/5).