Billy Hunter has been the leader of the NBA players' union since 1996. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
By Ben Golliver
The National Basketball Players Association voted unanimously Saturday to remove Billy Hunter as executive director, according to union president Derek Fisher.
The news was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
"Today was a day of change for our association, for our union," Fisher said, according to CBSSports.com. "The player representatives and the general body of our association have made their voice and their votes heard."
Hunter was barred from attending Saturday's meeting. Within hours of its conclusion, Hunter issued a statement, indicating that he had not yet been formally notified of his termination.
"During the days and weeks ahead, my legal team and I will begin carefully reviewing the actions taken and statements made against me in the meeting room in my absence," Hunter said. "I look forward to gathering the evidence showing how certain individuals made sure the outcome was pre-ordained."
The New York Times reported earlier this week that Hunter would seek to receive the $10.5 million remaining on his current contract if ousted.
"I do not consider today's vote the end, only a different beginning," Hunter said on Saturday. "My legal representatives and I will resume communication with the NBPA to determine how to best move forward in the best interests of all parties."
NBA.com reported that Fisher announced that he will remain as union president with Matt Bonner, Stephen Curry, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala, Roger Mason, Chris Paul and Jerry Stackhouse serving as vice presidents and James Jones serving as secretary/treasurer.
The decision to oust Hunter was made at a players meeting during All-Star Weekend in Houston and comes in the wake of a damaging internal investigation into the players union's business practices which revealed a number of questionable business practices.
The internal investigation, sought by Fisher and conducted by the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison law firm, produced a lengthy report that called into question the presence of Hunter’s family members on the NBPA’s payroll, the legality of Hunter’s contract, potential conflicts of interest and the possible misuse of NBPA funds.
In response to the investigation's findings, Hunter pledged to continue on in his role as executive director. He also cut financial ties between the NBPA and a number of his family members, who together received millions of dollars directly or indirectly from the union, and proposed a series of reforms to NBPA guidelines that would prevent similar actions from occurring in the future.
Despite those steps, Hunter received public criticism from players and agents alike and was placed on leave earlier this month. His attorney defended the legality of Hunter's contract and launched a website making Hunter's case for staying on, a last stand maneuver given that Hunter was barred from attending the players meetings in Houston to make his case.
Hunter, 70, has headed up the NBPA since 1996.