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Kevin Johnson Meets with NBA Agents, Signaling New Approach from Players Union

Juan Ocampo/Getty Images
Ric BucherNBA Senior WriterMay 17, 2014

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is spearheading the NBA Players Association’s search for a new executive director, held a brief meeting in Chicago to update player agents on the current state of the search and the plan moving forward.

That doesn’t sound earth-shattering unless compared to how former executive director Billy Hunter operated before being unanimously voted out of office 15 months ago following an audit that revealed a host of questionable financial and hiring decisions during Hunter’s reign.

Hunter made a point of vilifying player agents and keeping the process of any and all decisions as clandestine as possible.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14:  Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association speaks at a press conference after National Basketball Players Association  met to discuss the current CBA offer at Westin Times Square on Novembe
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The players, aided by the Chicago-based search firm Reilly Partners, were operating on a similar basis, searching for Hunter’s replacement, prompting one notable player agent, Jeff Schwartz, to write a guest column at ESPN TrueHoop complaining that nothing had changed.

It has now.

Johnson, enlisted a month ago to help the players union’s search, has formed a committee of outside advisers and has aggressively presented his plan and schedule to everyone involved. Every player agent was invited to attend the meeting, held at the same hotel that served as the headquarters for the pre-draft camp, and approximately 20 did so.

“It was very different than anything I’ve ever seen,” said one agent. “I’m 100 percent confident KJ is going to help find someone on par with himself to lead the players association going forward.”

In the meeting, Johnson encouraged all the agents to make sure their clients would be in Las Vegas in July, when he hopes to present the executive-director candidates.

Getting the rank-and-file involved should be less challenging in light of recent racist remarks by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

“This Sterling thing is really going to galvanize the players,” the agent said. “Maybe they needed to hear exactly how the owners think of them.”

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