National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher fired back at the union's leadership pushing for his resignation on Friday night.
Fisher, who is calling for an independent review of the union’s business and financial practices under executive director Billy Hunter, reiterated that he wouldn’t resign and called for peers in the league to stand and fight with him.
Hunter has rallied the eight-player executive committee to call for Fisher’s resignation. Hunter and the committee failed Friday in hopes of organizing a conference call among the league’s player representatives to call for Fisher’s ouster.
“I along with many others are extremely disappointed with the executive committee,” Fisher wrote in an email distributed by his publicist Friday night. “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.
“I have tried to convey the legal and moral obligations we have as union officers. Sadly, the executive committee has now waged a personal character attack on me to divert attention from the real issue. The truth.”
Fisher, a 37-year-old guard with the Oklahoma City Thunder, has been hearing from players and teams offering support and encouragement. Several players told Yahoo! Sports Friday they support Fisher’s push for union transparency, and they and members of their teams were contacting him to lend support.
“So the next step is simple," Fisher wrote in the email. "All players have a voice. Any and all players may request an independent review of the business practices and finances and a player representative vote can be taken at a time when all 30 player representatives can be present. A firm of the players choosing may conduct the review.
“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.”
The NBPA issued a statement on Friday, explaining why Hunter and the executive committee want Fisher out as president.
''The executive committee based its decision on 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,'' the statement said.
Maurice Evans, vice president of the Players Association and a member of the executive committee, told the Washington Examiner Friday that members of the executive committee were satisfied with Hunter's explanations regarding questions about "nepotism and the misallocation of funds and any other supposed, alleged questions."
The union constitution isn’t readily available to the public, so it is unclear how many of the potential 30 team representatives would be needed to vote Fisher out of office. One player representative told Yahoo! Sports he wasn’t sure the reps could do anything but offer a “no confidence” vote.
The speed with which Hunter is moving to crush Fisher has raised questions with players and agents in the past 24 hours. “He’s getting his way with the executive committee,” one agent told Yahoo! Sports, “but he doesn’t have as much broad support as he used to.”
Over the past several days, Hunter has launched an all-out assault through the eight-man executive committee to push out Fisher. Hunter successfully thwarted an audit of the union’s business and financial practices that Fisher pitched to the executive committee.
Hunter had the union's executive committee vote to seek Fisher's resignation, but Fisher refused to step down and has been working to gather a coalition of players to challenge Hunter’s business and financial practices, sources told Y! Sports. Fisher has told peers he will not resign, but rather fight Hunter for further transparency regarding the NBPA.
This showdown has been building for months and escalated in the past week when Fisher initially convinced the executive committee to vote for an independent auditor to look into Hunter’s regime.
Nevertheless, Hunter helped to convince the eight members of the committee to change course and turn on Fisher. Hunter has been unpopular with many players and agents for his lockout strategies, which led to unprecedented givebacks in last summer's labor battle with the league.
Hunter had his legal team send a brief memo to players Tuesday night, telling them the audit – that had initially been voted upon Friday – had been cancelled. Y! Sports obtained the memo.
"The executive committee recognized that the review was unnecessary since there had been a recent independent audit of the NBPA's finances which raised no issues," the memo said.
Mistrust grew between Hunter and Fisher during the lockout, with players choosing sides between the two. A person with knowledge of the dispute told Yahoo! Sports that Hunter convinced the executive committee – which includes, among other players, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, Washington Wizards guards Maurice Evans and Roger Mason, Boston Celtics guard Keyon Dooling and San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner – that Fisher's push for an audit had no merit, and that it was inspired by personal animus.
Fisher, a veteran guard with the Oklahoma City Thunder, has more than two years left on his appointment as NBPA president. Hunter has three-plus years left on his contract.
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