Clippers G Chris Paul in a surprise move was elected as player president of the NBPA yesterday at the union's annual meeting in Las Vegas. Paul defeated free agent G Roger Mason Jr., in what players said was "a close vote." Mason had publicly declared he was running for the position that was vacated by Derek Fisher. But few in the basketball world, including prominent agents, even knew Paul was running for the position. Paul said, "I was nominated by my peers, but it was definitely something I had in the back of my mind. I saw it as a challenge and something I would be able to handle." Paul is the first superstar player to hold the president's position since Patrick Ewing in '01. Paul's election came after Heat F LeBron James reportedly considered, but then rejected, the idea of running for union president. James cited his time commitments as a reason he decided against running. When asked if he thought about his commitments to sponsors and others like James did, Paul said, "I definitely considered that, and, LeBron, he is like my brother." But Paul noted that he was prepared for what the position entailed, as he has been on the union's Exec Committee since '09, and was a player representative for years before that. Outgoing NBPA First VP Jerry Stackhouse said, “We shocked the world, right? I think it's great. We come out of here with a lot of momentum and we got a guy who is one of the faces of the league." Stackhouse stepped down from his position so he can take a role with the union. That position and title had not been announced by press time. Mason was elected as NBPA First VP (Liz Mullen, Staff Writer).
RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB: USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt writes Paul "brings an intelligent and reasonable voice to the position, and he also has the respect of players and the league office," including Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver. Paul was "determined to be the better candidate, especially since Mason is unsigned and the reorganized union wants to avoid missteps." Lakers G Steve Blake and Bobcats F Anthony Tolliver "also were elected" VPs. Paul's election is the "first official step toward a fresh start for the union" (USA TODAY, 8/22). ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reported Warriors G Stephen Curry and F Andre Iguodala, along with Heat G James Jones, Spurs F Matt Bonner and Clippers G Willie Green "are also on the executive committee but were not up for re-election" (ESPN.com, 8/21). Paul said, "My first priority is to continue to get as much involvement as possible from our players. That's what it's all about. That's what it's been about and that's what it's about going forward." CBSSPORTS.com's Royce Young wrote Paul's "first order of business is hiring" a new Exec Dir for the union following Billy Hunter's firing. Paul said there was "no rush" when it came to hiring a replacement for Hunter. Paul: "We want to make sure our house in is order and make sure everything is in the right place so the exec director can come in and hit the ground running" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/21).
STAR POWER: The AP's W.G. Ramirez wrote Paul gives the union "some much-needed star power." There was a "feeling among many players and observers that putting a big name in the big chair would help galvanize the union." Tolliver said, "That wasn't a requirement, but I think it gives us a little more oomph, I guess, having somebody like him wanting to step up and take on that role" (AP, 8/21). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence writes Paul gives the NBPA "a well-known face and a star of national TV commercials to lead its 450 players" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/22).
STANDING FIRM: Robert Reilly, CEO and Founder of Reilly Partners, the search firm that worked in the past for the NFLPA and the NHLPA, spoke to NBA players at the meeting. The NBPA did not hire Reilly Partners or any other search firm, as some expected, at the union’s annual meeting. However, Reilly was the only representative of any search firm that attended the meeting and addressed the 41 players from 21 teams. Stackhouse said that Reilly Partners may or may not be hired in the future, and players did not vote on whether or not to hire the company. Meanwhile, there has been speculation that the NBPA could hire a new Exec Dir by the '14 All-Star Game. Mason said, "You don’t want to rush the process, you want the professionals who do this and engage in searches. ... We want them to kind of lead us" (Mullen).