Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

May 16, 2013

Former NBA union head files suit against Fisher

Ousted NBA players’ association executive director Billy Hunter alleges in a lawsuit that president Derek Fisher had a secret deal with owners during the 2011 lockout that benefited himself, his publicist and certain players.

Hunter contends that Fisher undermined Hunter’s efforts to make an agreement and interfered with his position by secretly negotiating with select owners in violation of union bylaws.

Filed Thursday in California Superior Court, the suit seeks unspecified damages for defamation and breach of contract. It also names the National Basketball Players Association and Jamie Wior, Fisher’s publicist, and says Fisher and Wior worked after the lockout ended “to terminate his employment without cause and in violation of his contract.”

“Wior harbored aspirations to assume a position of responsibility with the NBPA,” the suit says. “She set out to craft a new public persona for Fisher, taking control of his media appearances and public statements and encouraging him to overreach his authority.”

Hunter was ousted in February following an investigation into his business practices that found no illegal conduct but cited several conflicts of interest, questionable business decisions and hiring practices. Fisher finished the season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“It’s unfortunate that I must take this action against an organization where I had the privilege of working with many dedicated associates over 17 years,” Hunter said in a statement. “I’m proud of our record of achievement on behalf of players during my tenure as Executive Director and will continue to stand up for their interests. But I cannot let stand attacks on my character or accept what has been done.”

The suit says owners were aided by Fisher when they locked out players in July 2011 after the expiration of the last collective bargaining agreement. It says the veteran guard realized he could have been on his last contract as a player, so he wanted to secure a “soft landing” after his career by keeping good relations with the league and team owners, even while Hunter was committed to a firm stance.

“Unbeknownst to Hunter, however, Fisher was secretly negotiating with the Certain Owners — on his own and without any authority — to settle the negotiations on terms less favorable to the players,” the suit says.

“The NBPA’s Constitution and By-Laws vest in Hunter the sole right to conduct collective bargaining negotiations on behalf of the Union. Fisher’s interference in the negotiations exceeded his authority and undermined the Union’s negotiating power. Wior’s interference was completely without authority or basis. Ultimately, the players accepted a new CBA that left them with a greatly reduced share of the NBA’s revenues.”

The lockout ended in November 2011 with players’ receiving a 50-50 split of basketball-related income, after they were guaranteed 57 percent in the previous deal. The relationship between Hunter and Fisher at times seemed strained, with Fisher often speaking to reporters alone after bargaining sessions while Hunter left quickly.

Fisher said he had just learned of the lawsuit before meeting with reporters in Oklahoma City and didn’t want to comment.

“Obviously in any type of legal situation, you have to be very careful about what you say. So, I guess at the appropriate time I’ll be able to respond or make a statement,” he said.

Wior and a union official didn’t immediately return messages.

Hunter led the union since 1996 before he was voted out during the All-Star break with more than $10.5 million left on his contract.

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Miller, Mtn. Ridge shut out Alco, 2-0 Miller, Mtn. Ridge shut out Alco, 2-0

    Jenna Miller pitched well enough to keep Allegany off the scoreboard and Mountain Ridge scrapped together two runs as the No. 1 Miners topped the No. 3 Campers 2-0 at Carl Belt Field for their 60th consecutive win.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • George no-hits Frankfort

    Brandon George fired a no-hitter and Trevor Harman’s two-run base hit in the seventh lifted fifth-ranked Petersburg over Frankfort 2-1 Tuesday evening at Frankfort High School.

    April 22, 2014

  • ACM whips Wesleyan JVs twice

    Allegany College of Maryland scored nine runs in its first at bats of the day, setting the tone for the Trojans to outscore West Virginia Wesleyan’s junior varsity 34-6 during a doubleheader sweep Tuesday at Allegany College.

    April 22, 2014

  • Potomac splits with Frederick

    Britani Chambers and Shayna Vetter homered to lead Potomac State to a 7-5 win and a split of a doubleheader with Frederick on Tuesday afternoon.

    April 22, 2014

  • Sports Roundup - 04/23/2014

    April 22, 2014

  • Sports Calendar - 04/23/2014

    April 22, 2014

  • Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series

    Paul George scored 27 points and George Hill had all 15 of his points in the second half, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 101-85 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • DeRozan scores 30 as Raptors beat Nets 100-95 DeRozan scores 30 as Raptors beat Nets 100-95

    DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 14 rebounds for his second straight playoff double-double and the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 100-95 on Tuesday night, evening their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • From Marathon Meb to the ‘beacon’ of Beacon St From Marathon Meb to the ‘beacon’ of Beacon St

    Meb Keflezighi fled the East African nation of Eritrea as a 12-year-old boy, coming to the United States to escape war and poverty. Tatyana McFadden was 6 and sickly when an American woman adopted her from a Russian orphanag

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Redskins’ Snyder says team name is ‘not an issue’ Redskins’ Snyder says team name is ‘not an issue’

    Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder said Tuesday it’s time for people to “focus on reality” concerning Native American matters instead of criticizing the team’s nickname.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo