Derek Fisher has been asked to resign as leader of the National Basketball Players Association by its executive committee for “failing to uphold his duties” as president.
The other eight players on the New York-based union’s committee voted unanimously to ask for Fisher’s resignation, the organization said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The committee said it based the decision on “numerous instances over the past six months where Fisher engaged in conduct detrimental to the union, including acting in contravention of the players’ best interests during collective bargaining, declining to follow the NBPA Constitution and failing to uphold the duties of the union president.”
Jamie Wior, a spokeswoman for Fisher, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the union’s assertions.
The resignation request comes as the league is winding down a season shortened to 66 games from 82 by a lockout. The labor disagreement ended in December when the NBA and its union agreed to a new 10-year labor deal that provides for a 50-50 split of revenue between the league’s owners and players.
Fisher, who signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in March after spending 13 of his previous 16 National Basketball Association seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, has more than two years left on his term as union president.
The request for his resignation came days after he urged the executive committee to conduct an internal investigation of how the union, run by Executive Director Billy Hunter, handles its finances and business, news organizations including SI.com reported. The committee agreed, then changed its mind.
Today’s statement said its executive board was again calling for Fisher’s resignation, without citing the first instance he was asked to stepped down.
Before the committee’s statement was released, Fisher responded to reports on Yahoo Sports and SI.com that the union leadership wanted him out.
“I do and have always taken my job as president of the players’ association very, very seriously,” Fisher said during a practice before the Thunder’s game last night at the Sacramento Kings. “Anyone or any group who questions my intentions in any decisions I’ve ever made that I felt were best for our players I think need to step back for a moment and ask themselves this: Why would I try and ask certain questions and call into review the association that I’m the president of unless I thought there were some serious questions that needed to be answered, things that I, as president, aren’t satisfied with?”
The union said it performs annual financial audits that are shared with the executive committee, completed a financial audit in February, and after completing business reviews following the completion of new collective bargaining agreements in 1999 and 2005, will conduct another business review “in a timely manner.”
The nine-player executive committee consists of Fisher, the Boston Celtics’ Keyon Dooling, the Miami Heat’s James Jones, the San Antonio Spurs’ Matt Bonner, the Washington Wizards’ Roger Mason and Maurice Evans, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Theo Ratliff and the Atlanta Hawks’ Etan Thomas.
This isn’t the first time the union has had internal disagreement. Executive Director Simon Gourdine was ousted by a unanimous vote of player representatives in 1996 after a group led by Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing unsuccessfully tried to decertify the union during labor talks. Gourdine’s removal came two months after union President Buck Williams announced a two-year contract for the executive director. Ewing later became president of the union.