How corrupt is NBA Player’s Association Executive Director Billy Hunter? This corrupt: he makes almost as much money (over $13 million over the last five years) as the rest of the employees of the union made combined over that same period of time from 2006-2011 (slightly under $16 million). His daughter-in-law is one of the other highest paid employees of the union . One daughter’s law firm has been highly paid to defend the NBA player’s union. Another daughter has been highly paid to serve as the director of player’s benefits, when another firm had offered to do it for free (and had been turned down by Hunter because it did not benefit his vision of nepotism). And the NBA player’s union has funneled a great deal of money to a troubled investment firm where Hunter’s son is a director . The NBA player’s union is vastly more corrupt than the other player’s unions for major sports, where the unions take in more, top executives are paid less, and there are nepotism clauses that prevent the union from serving as the private fiefdom of corrupt people like Billy Hunter. All in all, from 2006 to 2011, the Hunter family itself directly gained 2/3 of the money paid out by the NBA player’s union.
All of this is becoming a serious problem now, though. The NBA players lost an ugly lockout, and they have started to point fingers at those responsible for the loss. Billy Hunter looms large as a target, for a variety of reasons. For one, their money is going to support him and his greedy family. You can say what you want about whether basketball players deserve their high salaries, but at the very least they provide some sort of entertainment for their money. What has Billy Hunter or his selfish brood done for the game of basketball or the basketball players or anyone else? All they’ve done is put their hands out and collect a lot of money from the players they are supposed to be serving.
This has been a problem for years. In 2009 the treasurer of the player’s union a retired NBA player named Pat Garrity, was forced out of his position when he questioned the morally (and fiscally) dubious decisions made that seemed to be looking after the Hunter family interests and not the interests of the NBA players. Unsurprisingly, the NBPA does not include a nepotism policy, since it appears that since becoming the executive director of the NBPA that Billy Hunter has seen the benefits of turning the player’s union into his own private fiefdom and is unwilling to let anyone get in his way.
This is why, perhaps, relations have soured so much between him and NBPA president Derek Fisher. In part driven by concerns over the nepotism, Fisher has demanded a detailed audit of the financial affairs of the NBPA. Like the corrupt don he is, Fisher has responded by attempting to force out Fisher from his position, being unwilling to tolerate anyone who questions his moral probity or the fiscal actions he has taken to benefit his clan. In reality, though, even within the banking and legal communities there are plenty of people who question the ethics of what the Hunter family is up to .
So, how did the NBPA get so corrupt? For one, it hired a corrupt head. Then, it allowed that head to become entrenched with family members in key positions and plenty of (probably corrupt) enablers in other key positions and refused to budge once he had reached the catbird seat. Then, during labor strife, when agents wanted to decertify the union and then challenge the antitrust exemption of the NBA (itself a worthwhile strategy that allowed the NFL players to at least get a draw with the NFL owners in their recent labor strife), Hunter instead (not desiring to lose his own position or that of his family) decided instead on a risky strategy that required the NLRB to act quickly on questions of unfair labor practices. It didn’t. The players ended up losing some $4 billion in lost salaries over the next decade of the labor deal, and now they want Hunter’s head since it was his greed and failed strategy that has cost them money, all while he and his family continue to collect very handsome salaries from their player’s union.
So, will Hunter survive this turmoil? Perhaps. Of course, now that it has drawn a public investigation, it is possible that a detailed audit of the finances will be conducted. Given Hunter’s apoplectic response to date to those who wish to question his handling of the NBPA, there is in all likelihood some sort of corrupt and possibly illegal financial activities involved, and if those are uncovered Hunter (and perhaps some of his children) would be very lucky to escape a lengthy jail sentence for any corruption that was uncovered. Hunter is not willing to take that chance, but only time will tell if he is allowed the opportunity to continue to loot the player’s union for his own interests and those of his close relatives. As it is, it is an immensely corrupt situation regardless of how it turns out, and just one more piece of evidence among many as far as the corrupt nature of our culture, especially where sports, money, and power are concerned.