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Derek Fisher Is Right to Refuse to Resign as NBPA President

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14:  Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association and Derek Fisher, President of the National Basketball Players Association speak at a press conference after National Basketball Players Association  met to discuss the current CBA offer at Westin Times Square on November 14, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Alan BlackAnalyst IIIApril 21, 2012

Drama has enveloped one of the most respected players in the league, as the NBA Players' Association executive committee asked Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher to resign as president. Fisher responded Friday that he would not step down, saying that there were ulterior motives behind the attempt to oust him.

The whole saga is confusing (to say the least), so let's put a few background facts in check in order to serve as a framework for the recent events.

1. Fisher and Union executive director Billy Hunter had a falling out of sorts during the lockout. The two seldom spoke to the press together, as Hunter would leave while Fisher spoke with the media. Hunter alleged that Fisher was meeting secretly with the owners and undermining the best interests of the players union. Those allegations were never proven or substantiated in any way.

2. Fisher alleges that Hunter is misappropriating union funds, and e-mailed NBA players last week saying that he wants an independent review of the NBPA's finances.

3. An audit was completed in February, and Hunter e-mailed the executive committee and pointed that out to them.

4. Shortly after Hunter e-mailed the executive committee about the February audit, they drafted the request for Fisher's resignation. An important snippet of that request reads:

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. To avoid further damage to the NBPA and its 450 members, the Executive Board again calls for Derek's resignation.

5. Fisher responded that he would not step down, saying:

I, along with may others, are extremely disappointed with the Executive Committee. Their demand for my resignation and their need to protect NBPA management and their own best interests instead of protecting the players we were elected to serve is unfortunate.

From looking at these known facts, it seems that Fisher is almost certainly in the right here.

Hunter's actions during the NBA lockout, in which he basically went on an unfounded witch hunt against Fisher, seem to imply that something caused a great rift between the two. Whereas Fisher has consistently taken the high road, Hunter has made it look more and more like he has a vendetta against Fisher.

Fisher has long been one of the most respected players in the NBA, and has served his fellow players well for a long, long time. Billy Hunter has long had low approval ratings and has said before that he doesn't care about it

Derek Fisher was one of the driving forces behind saving the NBA season and reaching a compromise. Billy Hunter said during the negotiations that the season would likely be cancelled, and went on many negative tirades against the league and the owners. 

The fact that Hunter immediately tried to force Fisher to resign after Fisher called for an independent audit certainly makes it look like Hunter has something to hide. The fact that there was a February audit means little, since Hunter has been executive director since 1996 and would thus be well-versed in how to hide any improprieties. 

Going after Fisher immediately instead of providing a well-thought-out counterargument makes it appear as though Fisher may have caught Hunter off guard and ruined any schemes he had.

Billy Hunter has long taken actions that make him look like a self-absorbed, power-hungry narcissist.  Derek Fisher has no such character issues. Unless dramatic new revelations are unearthed, Derek Fisher is absolutely right to fight what appears to be a corrupt man in Billy Hunter.

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