Hunter voted out as head of NBA players' union
Billy Hunter was ousted unanimously as executive director of the union by NBA players who said Saturday they will "no longer be divided, misled, misinformed."
"This is our union and we have taken it back," players' association president Derek Fisher said.
Fisher said it was a day of change for the union, which has seemed inevitable since a review of the union last month was critical of Hunter's leadership and urged players to consider whether they wanted to keep him.
"We want to make it clear that we are here to serve only the best interests of the players," Fisher said. "No threats, no lies, no distractions will stop us from serving our memberships."
In brief remarks, Fisher said a new executive committee was elected and he will remain as president. The Spurs' Matt Bonner is vice president, Miami's James Jones is secretary-treasurer and the Nets' Jerry Stackhouse the first vice president. The Clippers' Chris Paul, Golden State's Stephen Curry, Denver's Andre Iguodala, the Hornets' Roger Mason, Jr. and the Clippers' Willie Green are vice presidents.
Hunter had led the union since 1996, guiding the players through three collective bargaining agreements and helping bring their average salaries to more than $5 million, highest in team sports. But Fisher pushed for the review after a falling out between the two leaders, and though it found Hunter wasn't guilty of any criminal activity involving union funds, it cited him for a number of conflicts of interests and poor choices that led the players to remove him.
Released in January, the review conducted by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP criticized Hunter for hiring family members and friends. It said he knew his 2010 contract extension wasn't properly ratified by union rules, and raised questions about everything from travel expenses to the amount he spent on gifts.
Players acted quickly, putting Hunter on a leave of absence on Feb. 1. He hoped to be invited to Saturday's annual meeting, which included about 35 players, superstar LeBron James among them.
But Hunter's attorneys said their client was told he wouldn't be welcomed. They said his contract was legal and indicated there could be a lawsuit if the players removed him and attempted to withhold the more than $10 million that remains on his salary.
"We do not doubt that this process will possibly continue in an ugly way," said Fisher, who then reminded reporters that there are three ongoing government investigations into Hunter, likely the reason he didn't take questions after his remarks.
It's a swift fall for the 70-year-old Hunter, a former athlete who was well-respected by many players. But agents didn't like him, questioning his bargaining strategies and frustrated they didn't have a bigger role in his union.
Irving wins 3-point contest
Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving beat San Antonio's Matt Bonner to win the 3-point contest during All-Star Saturday night.
Irving, who will play in his first All-Star game on Sunday, started 7 for 7 in the final round and finished with 23 points - two shy of the record shared by Craig Hodges and Jason Kapono. Bonner finished with 20 points in the final round.
Players had one minute to take 25 3-point shots from five positions around the arc. Bonner had the highest score of the six players in the first round (19). Irving, who also played in Friday night's Rising Stars Challenge, had 18 points in the first round.
Earlier, Portland rookie Damian Lillard won the Skills Competition and the trio of Chris Bosh, Swin Cash and Dominique Wilkins won the Shooting Stars event.
Faried shines in Rising Stars game
Kenneth Faried had 40 points and 10 rebounds and entertained the crowd at the end with a series of dunks, leading Team Chuck to a 163-135 victory over Team Shaq in the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night. Faried, in his second season with Denver, made 18 of 22 shots and was selected the game's most valuable player. He'll compete Saturday night in the dunk contest at All-Star Weekend and offered a sneak preview of what he has planned with a series of powerful jams. For the second straight year, the rosters of both teams were a mix of rookie and second-year players and former stars Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley served as opposing general managers.
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