Suspended NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter Defends Record, Denies Audit's Findings
Suspended NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter, in his first interview since the Jan. 17 release of an independent audit of NBPA practices, yesterday "passionately defended his record and his reputation, and he indicated that he would not leave without a fight," according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. The 65-minute interview was “conducted at the Newark offices of his lawyer, Thomas Ashley." Hunter said, “I intend to exercise all my options, as of this moment.” Beck notes Hunter is owed $10.5M on a contract that "runs through 2016." Hunter said that he "expected to be paid the balance if he is fired.” He acknowledged that his contract “had not been approved by a two-thirds vote of the union’s executive committee and board of player representatives, as the audit stated.” But he and Ashley said that the requirement “pertains specifically to the hiring of a new executive director and not to subsequent contract renewals.” Hunter spent “much of the interview rebutting specific allegations raised in the audit, in some cases providing broader context and in other cases dismissing their significance altogether.” But most of his explanations “were already contained in the report.” Hunter said, “It’s almost like you put enough together, and you throw it up against the wall, hopefully something will stick. But when you look at them each individually, we can rebut them.” Hunter “wants to address” the union at its Feb. annual meeting, but it is not clear if NBPA President Derek Fisher "will permit him to attend the meeting.” Hunter: “I assume that between now and then that Derek will be doing everything he can to stack the deck so that they have the appropriate players in place to vote according to their request or plan.” Beck writes Hunter yesterday “was unusually subdued, his spirit sapped by the battle for his career.” Hunter: “It’s had a negative impact on my family” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/7).