In a letter sent to NBA players on Monday night and obtained by Yahoo! Sports, Players Association president Derek Fisher(notes) defended himself against charges he’s undermined the union by trying to cut a secret side deal with the commissioner’s office.
"…Let me say on the record to each of you, my loyalty has and always will be with the players," Fisher wrote in an email to players. "Anyone that questions that or doubts that does not know me, my history, and what I stand for. And quite frankly, how dare anyone call that into question. The Players Association is united and any reports to the contrary are false. There have been no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close. We are united in serving you and presenting the best options and getting everyone back to work."
FoxSports.com quoted sources on Friday saying Fisher had been secretly negotiating a deal with the office of NBA commissioner David Stern by pushing for an agreement on a 50-50 split of the basketball-related income (BRI). The story said union executive director Billy Hunter and one player confronted Fisher about it on the final day of labor talks with the NBA before negotiations fell apart again.
Hunter told the Sports Business Journal on Monday that his relationship with Fisher was “very good,” and that “there was no confrontation.”
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The Players Association and NBA have discussed resuming talks with federal mediator George Cohen this week, league sources told Y! Sports, though no meetings are scheduled. The two sides underwent three days of mediation before talks broke down on Oct. 20.
The union and league made progress toward a new labor agreement last week before the talks again unraveled on Friday.
Stern has canceled games through Nov. 30. The season had been expected to begin on Tuesday.
"The clock is ticking and we are aware that games are being lost, our jobs are on the line, as are those of all the arena workers and business owners impacted by the lockout," Fisher wrote in his letter. "We have been prepared for this and need to make sure we are getting the best deal possible. As this sets the precedent for the next six, seven, 10, even 20 years.
"My goal, the executive committee's ONLY goal is to present you with the most fair deal possible. A deal that is both fair on system and BRI. One isn't more important than the other. They are both extremely impactful to our business, our sport and our day to day life in the league."
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