Posts Tagged ‘union’

Hunter’s Lawsuit Vs. Union To Continue, While His Job Remains Vacant

Both sides were claiming victories of sort Wednesday in the legal battle between former National Basketball Players Association chief Billy Hunter and the union, including former president Derek Fisher.

A superior court judge in Los Angeles dismissed most of the claims made by Hunter against Fisher and his aide Jamie Wior (12 of 14, with two to be addressed in the coming days). But judge Huey Cotton ruled that Hunter’s breach-of-contract suit seeking $10 million from the union can continue. Hunter, the NBPA’s longtime executive director, claims he had a valid contract when he was terminated last February.

The crux of what remains centers around Hunter’s 2010 contract extension and whether it was properly ratified by the board of player representatives. The NBPA claims it was not and therefore was invalid, but Cotton did not rule on the union by-laws and how they pertain to contract extensions.

But what might matter most to anyone not directly involved, including NBA fans, is that the union’s search for Hunter’s replacement is moving slowly. According to Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, NBA commissioner David Stern could be several months into his retirement and deputy Adam Silver well into his first year as Stern’s successor by the time the NBPA fills its leadership void:

Union officials are still interviewing candidates for Hunter’s successor as executive director. Contrary to a recent report, the union has not yet settled on a group of finalists, and the process could drag into the summer.

There isn’t anything as urgent as an expiring collective bargaining agreement in play, but a number of matters on which the league and the union hope to work together – such as enhancing the joint anti-drug policy to include testing for human growth hormone – have been on hold awaiting an NBPA hire. Guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers was elected union president, succeeding Fisher, at last year’s All-Star Weekend.

Hunter was dismissed amid accusations of nepotism and improper business dealings. That triggered his lawsuit, which Fisher’s and Wior’s attorney Andrew Kassof described as “retaliation” after Cotton’s ruling:

Hunter sued the NPBA, Fisher, its former president, and Wior last May, saying they conspired to undermine his authority during the 2011 lockout, and then have his employment terminated following the labor dispute.

“Today proved that Mr. Hunter’s claims continue to be both farfetched and offensive,” Kassof said.

But Hunter’s attorney David Anderson of Sidley Austin said Cotton’s decision supports Hunter’s claims that his contract was valid, reported CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger.

Cotton’s ruling is expected to lead to settlement talks between Hunter and the union, though a previous attempt at negotiations reportedly failed.

Chris Paul Elected Union President

Clippers guard Chris Paul was elected president of the National Basketball Players Assn. on Wednesday as an important step, and an unexpected dose of name recognition, in the union’s attempt to find stability after more than a year of public infighting.

The outcome, part of the NBPA summer meeting in Las Vegas, was a surprise after reports portrayed Roger Mason Jr., a free agent who played with New Orleans last season, as the only declared candidate and likely winner. Instead, Paul became the rarity of a star atop the organization, the first since Patrick Ewing ended his term in 2001, and the most-visible face of the organization entangled by the controversy that led to lawsuits and executive director Billy Hunter being fired in February.

Paul said he has been thinking about running for a while and talked to members about the executive committee, including Mason, about a possible candidacy. The priority, his said on a conference call shortly after the election, is to get more players involved in the union.

“Right now is a big time for us as players and our union and moving forward,” Paul said. “I think I have a lot of experience in being around and knowing what’s going on. The other thing is, moving forward, the union is not about me. It’s not about the president or the first vice president or any one person. It’s about the players as a whole, as a body. That’s what we got out of the past two days in our meetings, what we can do moving forward to grow the game and build the game.

“Obviously, we’re restructuring a few things, just trying to make sure everything is set up properly. Everything is about checks and balances. I think we’ve got to give a lot of credit to the staff at the players’ association. They’ve been through a lot over the past year or so. It’s going to take a lot of work. But like I said, we have an outstanding executive committee, a great group of guys, board of directors, who are going to be ready and excited to move forward.”

Mason was elected first vice president Wednesday, replacing Jerry Stackhouse, who resigned and, according to the NBPA, is expected to take a new internal role. Additionally, Steve Blake of the Lakers and Anthony Tolliver of the Bobcats were elected vice presidents, filling the spots vacated by Paul and Mason.

“For me personally, I believe the union’s in a great place right now, especially after the past two days,” Paul said. “Obviously there were ideas and brainstorming and things like that, and right now it’s our job – the committee and the staff and myself – to move forward. No one said it was going to be easy, but that’s why we’re in this position. Stackhouse and the other guys, Roger Mason the first vice president, and the executive committee, we’re excited about the road ahead.”

Hunter was ousted amid evidence of mismanagement, including conflicts of interest in deals between his family members and the union. He then sued Derek Fisher, Paul’s predecessor as president, and the NBPA for defamation and breach of contract. A hearing on a motion to dismiss the case is pending.

Meanwhile, the union is without a permanent executive director to run the day-to-day operations. The search firm looking for Hunter’s replacement gave an update in Las Vegas, followed by Paul saying, “For us, there’s obviously no rush. Obviously we would love to get someone in that seat. But for us, we think we want to make sure our house is in order and make sure we have everything is in the right place so that executive director can come right in and can hit the ground running.”

Said Adam Silver, the NBA’s deputy commissioner: “Chris is an All-Star player and person and we look forward to working with him.”

Fisher Vows Not to Resign

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Embattled players’ union president Derek Fisher said Friday night he would not quit despite the executive board of the National Basketball Players Association requesting his resignation in an 8-0 vote.

“I don’t agree with the executive committee’s decision to ask for my resignation,” the Thunder’s backup point guard said after the 103-92 victory over the Kings at Power Balance Pavilion. “It’s not something that I plan to do. I’m going to continue to push – not just as the president of the Players Association, but as a member of the Players Association – for what I think is the right thing to do. That is simply to take a look at the way we conduct our business, not just our finances, our overall business practices, and try to do a much better job than we have in the past serving our members.”

An internal fight with executive director Billy Hunter spilled into full public view after Fisher pressed to conduct a review of Hunter and the union. Hunter pushed back by rallying support to push Fisher out.

“I’m obviously spending more time on my phone communicating than I would like to be, especially at this point of the season,” Fisher said. “But I also challenge people to think about why I would chose consciously to do that. Normally at this time of year, the one thing that I’ve always wanted to concentrate solely on is helping lead a team to a championship. That’s what I am trying to do here with the Thunder, is to make positive contributions to a great team, and we’re trying to win a championship. That’s what I would really like to focus on solely.

“As I’ve tried to state, if this was just about me, that’s what I would do. I would just concentrate on basketball. But because this is bigger than me, this is bigger than any other one person, it’s really about all players and what’s best for our guys, then I’m willing to take the hits and some of the scrutiny that will come with some of the decisions right now.”