Billy Hunter must be fired as head of the National Basketball Association players’ union after he made personal interest his top priority, according to Arn Tellem, one of the most influential agents in sports.
Tellem accused Hunter of “treachery” in leading the union for the last 17 years. He is the first agent to call for Hunter’s removal since the findings of an outside investigation of union business practices was released two weeks ago.
Tellem sent a letter last night to his clients, including former Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets, Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers, lambasting Hunter’s record and urging the players to oust him as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association during next month’s All-Star weekend.
“Mr. Hunter works for you, though he clearly doesn’t realize it,” Tellem said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. “If you don’t act now, Mr. Hunter’s treachery will stand and the players’ ability to point their union in the right direction will be delayed and compromised to your continued detriment.”
Hunter didn’t return a text message seeking comment. Dan Wasserman, a spokesman for the union, declined to comment on Tellem’s remarks in a telephone interview.
The investigation by the New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison determined that Hunter, 70, put his personal interests ahead of the union’s, failed to manage conflicts of interest and hid the fact that his contract wasn’t properly approved.
The report said players should consider replacing Hunter, who took over as executive director in 1996. It said Hunter didn’t do anything illegal.
“NBA players deserve better representation from the union they fund,” Tellem wrote in the letter, which was earlier reported by the New York Times. “I implore you and your fellow players to take control of your union and your future. It’s time for Mr. Hunter to go.”
Hunter, a former U.S. Attorney, said in a statement after the Paul, Weiss report that the five-year contract that pays him $3 million annually is valid.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan began an investigation into the union after the organization’s President, Derek Fisher, asked for independent reviews of the association’s finances and business practices.
Tellem clients Kris Humphries of the Nets, Kendrick Perkins of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons are player representatives.