Billy Hunter at the November, 2011 press conference announcing the end of the lockout (Getty Images)
In the strongest condemnation yet amongst the many charges of nepotism and misplaced funds prevalent in Billy Hunter's tenure as National Basketball Players Association executive director, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and Rand Getlin are reporting that Hunter's dubious business tactics are going well beyond giving cushy gigs to family members. Documents reveal that not only has Hunter encouraged the players he's charged with representing to entrust millions in a disgraced bank that his son served on the board of directors with at the height of the banking crisis, but that his compensation as executive director takes up nearly half of the NBPA's budget.
For perspective, this is 2 1/2 times what the executive director of the NFLPA (DeMaurice Smith) makes, and 4 1/2 times what Hunter's counterpart at Major League Baseball earns. Toss in a clear and well-documented strain of nepotism, and you have a litany of well-sourced charges that should very well be leading to Hunter's dismissal as executive director. Assuming the players know what they're doing, of course, which is always up for debate. Here's Wojnarowski's and Getlin's take:
As NBA players lost $400 million in salary during last summer's lockout — and $3 billion over the course of the new 10-year collective bargaining agreement — Billy Hunter, his family and the entities that employed them made approximately $3,430,953 from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, according to labor filings.
"The real issue here is whether these potential conflicts were disclosed and the failure of someone who has a fiduciary duty [to union members] to make that disclosure presents a compelling question," Ronald Shechtman, managing partner and chair of Pryor Cashman's Labor and Employment Group, told Yahoo! Sports. "Not only is there a duty to disclose, there is a duty to explain the rationale for routing the business that way so that the fiduciaries [players] can make a judgment that the decision is based on good reason or good cause other than the fact that someone is a relation."
The whole report is obviously a must-read, but it's important to go in knowing that these charges go well beyond the clear and consistent nepotism that Hunter has employed in his time running the NBPA. If Hunter delayed decertification of the union last summer, while making his family members huge gobs of money in lawyer and consulting fees during last year's lockout, he may have delayed the decision to come to an agreement with the NBA. Not only did this cost the players hundreds of millions of dollars, but it cost families whose employment revolves around a working NBA millions as well. All to potentially secure consistent paychecks throughout 2011 for Hunter's family members.
As the report points out, this practice was hardly limited to the 2011 term; but that aspect of it is easily the most damning because it directly affected North American workers outside of the 400-some NBA players that Hunter is influencing to invest in companies partially helmed by family members. And though he wasn't the whistle blower (merely confirming, without comment) in this piece, former Suns forward and longtime NBPA member Pat Garrity was the first to realize this connection — merely by going to Interstate Net Bank's website and finding a bio of Hunter's son amongst its board of directors.
According to the report, when Garrity brought up the connection, he was shouted down at an NBPA meeting during the 2009 NBA All-Star break. With no current players rushing to support Garrity after he was asked to leave, the longtime team representative left the players to deal with the consequences of their inaction.
Consequences that, over three years later, may have led to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in salary, a miserable lockout-influenced season, and the potentially too-late dismissal (or, at the very least, desperately needed audit) of Billy Hunter.
This is some explosive stuff. Give it a read.
- Sports & Recreation