Mavericks CEO Said Finalist for NBA Players Union Leader

Dallas Mavericks Chief Executive Officer Terdema Ussery is among three finalists to become the next executive director of the National Basketball Association players’ union, two people with direct knowledge of the process said.

Michele Roberts, an attorney at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, and Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group for technology companies, are the other finalists, said the people, who requested anonymity because the process is private. Ron Klempner, the association’s acting executive director, declined to comment.

The candidates will address union members, including the organization’s nine-member executive committee, tomorrow in Las Vegas, site of the organization’s annual summer meeting.

The finalists were culled from hundreds of candidates screened by a search committee led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA All-Star.

Ussery, a former president of Nike Sports Management and commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association, didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment. Garfield didn’t return a message left at his office over the weekend, while Roberts declined to comment.

“I think silence is prudent at this juncture,” Roberts said in an e-mail.

A candidate requires 75 percent of the 30 player representatives and executive committee members, or 29 votes, according to the union, which has been without a permanent executive director since Billy Hunter was fired about 18 months ago following an independent review of business practices.

Hunter Review

The review, conducted by the New York-based law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, concluded that Hunter, a former U.S. Attorney and National Football League player, failed to manage conflicts of interest, lacked proper corporate governance and didn’t disclose that his $3 million annual contract wasn’t properly ratified.

The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan is investigating union practices.

The independent review was sparked by a conflict between Hunter, who had led the union for 16 years, and former NBPA President Derek Fisher during negotiations aimed at ending the 2011 lockout. Fisher is now coach of the New York Knicks. Chris Paul, an All-Star guard with the Los Angeles Clippers, is the union president.

Hunter is suing the union, saying he should be paid the about $10 million that remained on his contract when 24 of 30 player representatives unanimously voted to terminate his employment.

The search hasn’t gone smoothly.

Search Scrapped

An initial process, conducted by executive search firm Reilly Partners, culled hundreds of candidates to Roberts and David White, the national executive director of the Screen Actors Guild.

That search was scrapped and restarted with Mayor Johnson’s committee after player agents objected to a lack of transparency in the process.

“The union has seen engagement from the players unlike any time before,” Johnson said in an e-mail to agents, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. “There is great potential for a strong NBPA going forward.”

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