Billy Hunter's court filings allege Kobe Bryant behind 'secret' labor deal

Thursday November 21st, 2013

Kobe Bryant was among NBA players appearing with Billy Hunter during 2011 labor talks. (Patrick McDermott/Getty) Kobe Bryant was among NBA players appearing with Billy Hunter during 2011 labor talks. (Patrick McDermott/Getty)

Filings in Billy Hunter's lawsuit against the National Basketball Players Association, reveal his claims that Kobe Bryant and his agent, Rob Pelinka, pushed him to accept a 50-50 labor deal to end the 2011 lockout, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.

Hunter, the ousted former executive director, filed suit against the players union, former president Derek Fisher and his business manager, Jamie Wior, last week.

Hunter alleges defamation and breach of contract and points to Fisher's alleged role in a so-called secret deal with the owners usurped Hunter's authority as the sole bargaining agent under the NBPA's by-laws. He is seeking up to $10.5 million in salary and benefits he claims are owed him since he was voted out in February of 2013 under a contract signed in 2011.

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According to the report, court documents also provide details of an alleged power play by Bryant. Hunter claims Bryant urged him to move away from the 52 percent revenue split.

But the most interesting series of events outlined by Hunter were those linking Bryant and Pelinka (who also represents Fisher) to the surprising collapse of negotiations at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on Oct. 28, 2011 -- about a month before a new labor deal finally was struck, salvaging a 66-game season and reordering the financial and competitive landscape of the sport.

“Late in the evening before the Waldorf Astoria meeting, I was already in bed for the night when my phone rang," Hunter wrote in the court filing. "The caller identified himself as the ‘Black Mamba.' I knew it was Kobe Bryant, a superstar player for the Los Angeles Lakers and the highest paid player in the NBA."

Bryant informed Hunter that his agent, Pelinka also was on the phone.

At that point, Hunter said that Bryant urged him to accept a 50-50 split of revenue in the meeting the following day and "put this thing to bed. ... Do the deal."

Hunter said Bryant also told him, "I got your back."

Pelinka did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Fisher's business manager, Wior. The NBPA also did not issue a statement about Hunter's latest allegations.

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