NBPA’s Billy Hunter fires back at critical report
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
Billy Hunter, on indefinite leave of absence as the National Basketball Players Association’s executive director, defended his actions in a report released Friday morning as All-Star Weekend began in Houston, saying he did not steal or embezzle funds and does not deserve to lose his job.
In response to the unflattering independent report conducted by the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, Hunter released a rebuttal.
In a statement, one of Hunter’s attorneys, Michael Carlinsky, said, “The evidence does not show that Mr. Hunter embezzled, or stole money from the NBPA. The Report also does not cite to a single NBPA policy or rule that Mr. Hunter allegedly violated. The Report can best be characterized as one law firm’s judgment by hindsight with which we respectfully disagree.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan is also investigating the NBPA, and its investigation remains ongoing.
Hunter, executive director since 1996, is in a battle to save his $3 million a year job. The Paul, Weiss report slammed Hunter’s hiring practices, which included charges of nepotism. Potentially more damning was the report’s claim that Hunter didn’t have his contract extension properly approved and when notified that it wasn’t approved properly, Hunter took no action.
It remains unclear if Hunter, who was placed on leave Feb. 1, will have the opportunity to speak to players this weekend, and it remains unclear if players will act on Hunter’s future. Hunter’s team is preparing as if they will not get a chance to address players.
“Given the fact that the Report’s findings were the basis for the recent personnel action taken against Mr. Hunter, it is disturbing that he has not been invited to address the NBPA membership to present his rebuttal,” the executive summary of Hunter’s response said. “Many NBPA members have a vital interest in hearing from Mr. Hunter both to have clarity regarding his position on the Paul Weiss report and as a matter of fundamental fairness.”
Carlinsky added: “While we are terribly disappointed that the NBPA will not afford Mr. Hunter the opportunity to address the players directly, we stand ready to press … [For more on NBPA's Billy Hunter fires back at critical report, click here.]