The National Basketball Players Association placed executive director Billy Hunter on indefinite leave last week, the first step in removing his from his position. However, speaking to Howard Beck of the New York Times, Hunter insists that he feels he's being unfairly targeted, and won't go down without a fight.
"I intend to exercise all my options, as of this moment," Hunter said.
Hunter's contract, which pays him another $10.5MM through 2016, was never formally approved by player representatives, but Hunter and lawyer Thomas Ashley believe the union chief is still entitled to his remaining salary. According to Ashley, the contract is binding under Delaware law, where the union is incorporated. Additionally, Hunter and Ashley contend that the union bylaw which requires player reps to approve an executive director's contract applies to a new hire, rather than subsequent contract renewals.
An audit of the union by the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison concluded that Hunter had acted in his own best interests at times, an allegation Hunter strongly denied. Ashley referred to the report, which relied heavily on anonymous witnesses as "clearly unfair" and Hunter contends that the allegations are made up of a lot of "little things" that don't amount to much.
"It’s almost like you put enough together, and you throw it up against the wall, hopefully something will stick," Hunter said. "But when you look at them each individually, we can rebut them."
The decision to retain or dismiss Hunter is expected to be made by the 30 player reps at the union's meeting during All-Star weekend, where Hunter is hoping to address the membership. According to Beck, at least 11 player reps are believed to be in favor of firing the union chief. However, despite not being able to reach out to players to make his case during his forced leave, Hunter is confident that he has the support of a number of players, and believes there are more that are eager to hear him out.