HOUSTON – Billy Hunter is taking his case to the people.
Hunter, the embattled executive director of the National Basketball Players Association — currently on indefinite leave amid charges of nepotism, conflicts of interest and improper business practices — has a new blog designed to do just that. It’s at: http://www.gbillyhunter.blogspot.com/
Hunter’s fate as NBPA executive director is expected to be decided at the union’s annual meeting Saturday at All-Star Weekend. Whether he would be permitted to attend the meeting — to rebut the charges that surfaced in a report in late January commissioned by the players from law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison — remained in doubt as union members began to gather here Thursday.
To make his case regardless, or perhaps to leverage his way to an audience with the players, a team of Hunter attorneys Friday morning announced “Mr. Hunter’s new blog, simply designed for two purposes.”
1) To keep many of you updated on the status of Mr. Hunter’s position with the NBPA. Many of you have graciously inquired about the well-being of both Mr. Hunter and his family during this challenging time.
2) To provide a strong preliminary rebuttal to the Paul Weiss Report which was one-sided in content and not characteristic of Mr. Hunter’s successful 17 year tenure of the NBPA.
In the Paul, Weiss report, Hunter was found to have employed family members, paying them and their professional firms nearly $4.8 million since 2001. He used a financial firm, Prim Capital, that employed his son Todd for NBPA investments. He also allegedly negotiated a contract extension — at an annual salary of about $3 million — without seeking proper approval of the union’s executive board and spent NBPA funds on a variety of expenses questioned in the report. Hunter told the New York Times in a recent interview that he expected to be paid the balance of his contract — $10.5 million in salary and benefits — whether he is retained or not.
Friction between union president Derek Fisher, a veteran NBA point guard, and Hunter has its roots in the league’s 2011 lockout. Fisher’s role also is in question, if only because he currently is not an active NBA player. Some players, including stridently outspoken Brooklyn veteran Jerry Stackhouse, have urged a sweep of the union’s hierarchy, including Hunter, Fisher and the executive committee.
The meeting Saturday, initially scheduled for morning, has been moved to mid-day to accommodate players’ travel needs, one source told NBA.com. Anticipating resistance to allowing him counter the charges in person, Hunter’s “blog” features links to a 21-page preliminary response, an executive summary and a PowerPoint presentation intended for the players.
The release sent to NBA media outlets Friday concluded:
Many players expected to hear from Mr. Hunter in Houston and have expressed dismay that he has not not been invited by the interim leadership regime — whose authority to place him on administrative leave is not supported by the union’s Constitution or bylaws. Therefore, Mr. Hunter was left with no choice but to communicate with the public in a more direct manner to ensure that his response to the allegations was heard without filter.
As we have all been taught from childhood, there is always another side to the story that should be evaluated in any circumstance and before any judgments are made or actions, once taken, cannot be reversed.