NBA Players Union Hires Search Firm to Find Hunter Replacement

The National Basketball Players Association has retained Reilly Partners, a Chicago-based executive search firm, to find a replacement for ousted Executive Director Billy Hunter.

Bob Reilly, the firm’s chief executive officer and co-founder, will lead the process, said Ron Klempner, the union’s acting executive director. Last month Reilly spoke to the players at their annual summer meeting in Las Vegas, where Los Angeles Clippers All-Star Chris Paul was named as the association’s president.

The firm’s clients have included the National Football League Players Association, the National Hockey League Players Association, the University of Notre Dame and McDonald’s Corp. (MCD), according to its website.

Hunter was fired amid charges of nepotism and abuse of union resources. Player representatives from 24 of the 30 teams voted unanimously in February to fire Hunter, ending the former federal prosecutor’s 16-year tenure. Hunter was making $3 million annually.

Hunter’s dismissal ended almost a year of speculation about his future with the association, punctuated by the results of an audit of the union conducted by New York-based law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison. The review concluded that, while Hunter did nothing illegal, he failed to manage conflicts of interest, lacked proper corporate governance and didn’t disclose that his $3 million-a-year contract wasn’t properly ratified.

Hunter’s Rebuttal

In his rebuttal, Hunter said his contract was valid and that he has always put players first. Hunter sued the union, former president Derek Fisher and his publicist, Jamie Wior, in May, alleging they engaged in secret negotiations with team owners to end the 2011 NBA lockout.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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