Billy Hunter has been the leader of the NBA players' union since 1996. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
By Rob Mahoney
The National Basketball Players Association has made its first hard push toward parting ways with executive director Billy Hunter.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Hunter has been placed on "indefinite leave" and will not participate in the annual union proceedings at All-Star Weekend in Houston this month. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the report and also noted that NBPA counsel Ron Klempner will serve as interim executive director, presumably until the union reps decide on their new non-player leadership.
This development comes in the wake of allegations of nepotism (among other strategic missteps), which Hunter attempted to quickly resolve and address via reform. Bloomberg.com reported Tuesday that Hunter has cut ties between the players’ union and his daughter, daughter-in-law and son, who each received union funds directly or indirectly.
The New York-based union paid almost $4.8 million to Hunter’s family members and their professional firms since 2001, according to public records. Hunter makes $3 million a year as union chief.
“Hopefully this decision will alleviate any concerns raised by their employment,” Hunter wrote in the letter. “These measures are being taken although the report noted that both of them were highly qualified, not overpaid, and were contributing members of the NBPA staff.”
Robyn Hunter, the director’s daughter, ceased working at the union on Jan. 25, according to the letter. Megan Inaba, his daughter-in-law and director of special events and sponsorships, will leave on Feb. 17 after the National Basketball Association’s All-Star weekend.
Hunter, 70, also secured a letter of resignation from Prim Capital, which employs his son, Todd.
Hunter’s proposed reforms
include the suggested adoption of an “anti-nepotism policy” and policies concerning conflicts of interest and other employment issues. That would be all well and good if Hunter weren't playing defense at this point. His latest public moves have all been reactionary attempts to save his job after damaging reports, but this more deliberate action by the union seems to signal the beginning of the end of Hunter's 17-year tenure.