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
  • Jenna Miller named AMAC Player of the Year Jenna Miller named AMAC Player of the Year

    Always in complete control in the circle or in the batter’s box, Jenna Miller was rewarded for helping Mountain Ridge to its third undefeated championship in a row by being voted the Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year by the league’s seven head coaches

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ridgeley, Kiwanis advance to Hot Stove semifinals

    Wyatt Yates knocked in the tie run and Nate Strietbeck brought in the winning run with singles in the bottom of the seventh inning as Ridgeley rallied from a one-run deficit to beat Bedford, 5-4, and advance to the next round of the Hot Stove League playoffs Friday in the decisive Game 3 at Hamilton Field.

    July 25, 2014

  • Stags try to ford Rivermen

    The Western Maryland Stags, a semi-pro football team of the Mason Dixon Football League, will play their third game today, 7 p.m., at Greenway Avenue Stadium against the North Neck Rivermen.

    July 25, 2014

  • Sports Roundup - 07/26/2014

    July 25, 2014

  • Kiwanis evens series with Eagles

    Blake Beal outdueled Brenton Miller in a finely pitched game Wednesday night at Memorial Field to lead Kiwanis to a 4-2 victory over the Cresaptown Eagles and tie their best-of-three Hot Stove League playoff series at a game apiece.

    July 24, 2014

  • Sports Calendar - 07/25/2014

    July 24, 2014

  • The un-Armstrong? Tour ‘boss’ Nibali wins Stage 18 The un-Armstrong? Tour ‘boss’ Nibali wins Stage 18

    As his team hoped, Vincenzo Nibali demonstrated he’s the “boss” of the Tour de France. Just don’t compare him to the last rider to regularly bear that sobriquet at cycling’s greatest race, Lance Armstrong.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sooners ready to move past Sugar Bowl win Sooners ready to move past Sugar Bowl win

    Oklahoma got a lot of attention with its upset victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lakeview needs extra innings to defeat Hobo’s

    POTOMAC PARK — Lakeview Auto Parts won two extra inning games Wednesday evening to advance to next week’s American League Championship Series in Hot Stove League playoff action.

    July 23, 2014

  • Northside wins, 12-3, advances to title series

    CRESAPTOWN — Logan Stewart and Mason Dick each had three hits to lead Northside Diamond Dogs over Hite Roofing 12-3 Wednesday evening and advance to the Rec League championship series.

    July 23, 2014