Billy Hunter has been removed from his job as executive director of the NBA players’ union as a result of an unanimous vote on Saturday. According to the National Basketball Association, the NBA players ousted Hunter in the wake of a recent law firm review which raised questions about how he handled the union’s money.
An earlier report by ESPN pointed out that the review didn’t expose any criminal activity. However, after 17 years on the job, Hunter appeared to have gotten somewhat sloppy about how he handled the cash. While he didn’t steal the money, other union officials questioned why he would spend $100,000 on gifts for executive committee members.
The scandal that led to the NBA ousting Hunter had its roots in an ongoing conflict with NBA Players’ Association (NBPA) president Derek Fisher. Despite being the recipient of one of the generous gifts, a $20,000 watch, Fisher and Hunter have been on the outs ever since the basketball lockout in 2011. Fisher was instrumental in calling for the review of Hunter’s activities.
As Patrick Frye reported, Hunter was recently forced to respond to the charges by firing two family members — his daughter and his daughter-in-law. While Hunter denies any wrong-doing, the appearance of nepotism was a bit too much in the wake of the other scandals.
The NBA press release also notes that Hunter accepted $1.3 million for supposedly unused vacation time without any clear documentation of what and when the vacation time was given up.
The 70-year old Billy Hunter will not go quietly. According to SB Nation, he intends to fight for the enforcement of the salary contract he signed in 2010 — and for the additional $10 million he feels he is owed. However, the law firm that reviewed his activities, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, have stated that they believe that the contract is void if Hunter sues to force payment.
Having already been ousted by the NBA players, Hunter may feel that he has little left to lose by fighting.