Billy Hunter vs. Derek Fisher: Battle For The Number One Seed

Posted: April 21, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , , , , ,

Today, April 21, 2012:  National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter doesn’t like Derek Fisher.  NBPA president Derek Fisher really doesn’t like Billy Hunter.  Something shady is going on.  Eight random players have some importance on the executive committee but are about as worthless as Otis Smith in the future of the Orlando Magic.  That’s the summary of the drama of consequence in the NBA.

Clearly the disdain between Fisher and Hunter began during the NBA lockout, an event that tested leadership and reveal what many – yours truly included- believed from day one: Billy Hunter was going to mismanage the mess out of the lockout, forgo all leverage, look like a bumbling fool, and come to the same conclusion he should’ve reached many months too late after giving up more than he needed.  Nothing screams a lack of solidarity than holding separate media appearances after daily negotiations against a clearly unpopular opponent in team ownership.  Players apparently split into factions some siding with Hunter others with Fisher.  While I lack all requisite details to understand why players felt so divided, I do know that Fisher’s attempts to get the Union to negotiate sooner than Hunter wanted came off to some as caving into demands and not standing behind player interests.  “Sources” suggested Fisher met privately with Commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver to make a deal independent from the NBPA; these reports were not confirmed with some Fisher supporters suggesting rumors came from Hunter to emasculate Fisher’s authority.  Given how the new CBA looks, it appears that Fisher was probably right in his strategic instincts but if anything is clear it is player will continuously be disrespected for their intelligence.  When the media “disrespects” players, we hear about it; when player leadership does it, deaf ears.

Fisher, serving as union president since 2006, is suspicious of Hunter’s business activities and via conference call on April 13, 2012 convinced a majority of members of the eight player executive committee to agree to an internal audit of Hunter’s New York offices.  From what I could gather from the Associated Press, ESPN’s Ric Bucher, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski (who broke the story), player reps learned of the decision to have an independent business review earlier this week.  Hunter later contacted each committee member and convinced them that an internal audit would be unnecessary as the NBPA/Hunter’s offices is audited regularly.  I should note: the committee voted 8-0 to kill the independent audit of finances and practices; we also know four of the players on the committee thanks to Yahoo! Sports’ obtaining a copy of the memo: Chris Paul, NBPA Vice-President Maurice Evans, Roger Mason, and Keyon Dooling.  Sources also said that Hunter also suggested that Fisher’s calls for an independent audit constituted a personal attack on Hunters leadership.

Allow me to interject hear.  I clearly don’t think Billy Hunter is a very good leader.  That’s my opinion.  I also think Derek Fisher is one of the classiest, intelligent, and genuine people in basketball.  The fact that Fisher suspects something fishy (pun intended) makes me wonder if there is financial misconduct.  Hunter’s quick movements to kill the audit AND mobilize the executive committee to demand Fisher’s resignation gives me all the reason in the world to side with Fisher.  Something is going on.  People who act guilty usually are guilty.

Hunter and the weathervane-esque, toothless executive committee want Fisher to resign citing: “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.” (Statement quotes courtesy of Yahoo! Sports)  I don’t know what the NBPA Constitution is or says but players support Fisher who is calling for more transparency from the top – you know the same thing players and Hunter was livid about when the owners were not 100% forthright.  Fisher, with two years remaining as NBPA President, is refusing to resign and intends on fighting “the man” for clarity with renewed player support:

“I, along with many others, are extremely disappointed with the Executive Committee.  Their demand for my resignation and their need to protect the NBPA management and their own best interests instead of protecting the players we were elected to serve is unfortunate…The allegations that are now being directed at me are defamatory…But I urge our members to order an independent review beginning immediately and that will be proven along with finding out definitively if there are any issues with the NBPA’s business practices and finances.” (Courtesy of ESPN and Associated Press)

Sources also told ESPN’s Ric Bucher that Billy Hunter has hired a public relations firm – conceivably an independent one as the NBPA certain acts as its own.

So there you go.  The player led executive committee seems to be the puppet regime of Hunter, an organization just last week that supported an audit less than seven days later unanimously killed the audit and wants the person calling for the audit to resign.  Questionable, no?  Something is definitely not right in the NBPA and I tend to side with Fisher on this one.  Popularity and support will matter the most here a legitimate movement and its leader may be crushed for doing his job.  Sports mirrors politics and power corrupts all.  Just another day’s work in the business of sports.

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