Ball Bouncing Wrong Way for NBA Union Chief Billy Hunter

Jerry MilaniContributor IJanuary 29, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10:  Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association speaks at a press conference after the NBA and NBA Player's Association met to negotiate the CBA at The Helmsley Hotel on November 10, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

As NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith oversees the biggest week of the football season, NHLPA head Don Fehr reflects on his settled lockout and MLBPA head Michael Weiner readies for spring training, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, Billy Hunter, continues to fight for survival.

In a story by Bloomberg News on Tuesday, reporter Scott Soshnick obtained letters showing that Hunter has effectively fired several members of his own family who were employed by the Union or associated companies in various capacities. Hunter purged family members from union roles after a report was critical of nepotism at the organization.

Those let go include his son, daughter and daughter-in-law, who were paid a combined total of almost $4.8 million to them and their professional firms since 2001, according to public records.

Soshnick wrote: “Robyn Hunter, the director’s daughter, ceased working at the union on Jan. 25, according to the letter. Megan Inaba, his daughter-in-law and director of special events and sponsorships, will leave on Feb. 17 after the National Basketball Association’s All-Star weekend.

The changes come about two weeks after the independent investigation of the union’s business practices found that Hunter, the organization’s leader since 1996, put personal interests ahead of the association, failed to manage conflicts of interest, and didn’t have proper approval for his five-year, $15 million contract as director.”

The moves are the latest by the veteran union chief as he fights to save his position and hold the Union together.  Leading agent Arn Tellem has said Hunter should be fired for his actions as union head and accused Hunter of “treachery” in a letter to his players, according to Bloomberg News.

The Union president, Derek Fisher, has been critical of the practices of the union for some time, and has accused Hunter of nepotism on several occasions.

This latest issue comes at a time when the NBA and its players are enjoying a solid full season following last winter’s lockout, a season which has seen the revival of the New York Knicks and the relocated Brooklyn Nets franchises, the rise of the Los Angeles Clippers, the potential franchise shift of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle and the continued strong play of the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Heat visited the White House yesterday while in Washington, but rest assured President Obama didn’t check in on union issues with Miami’s Dwayne Wade, another key voice in achieving labor peace last year.

The news for Hunter comes just before what is usually the NBAPA’s biggest event of the year, the annual All-Star Weekend, this year held in a few weeks in Houston.