When the NBA lockout was at its lowest point last year, with players and owners squabbling over a new collective bargaining agreement while the fans paid the steepest price of all, cracks in leadership threatened to weaken the already challenging position of the National Basketball Players Association.
The lockout was resolved, of course, but the issues remain at the NBPA. And they're getting worse by the day.
SI.com reported early Thursday evening that union president and Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher was continuing his push for an internal review of the NBPA's business practices by the independent firm despite the executive committee deeming the review "unnecessary" earlier this week. But sources later revealed that Fisher has been asked to resign by the very same players who make up the committee and are clearly backing executive director Billy Hunter in this matter.
The executive committee consists of Washington guards Maurice Evans and Roger Mason, Boston Celtics guard Keyon Dooling, Miami swingman James Jones, San Antonio forward Matt Bonner, and Clippers point guard Chris Paul. The request for resignation was given on Wednesday, but sources say Fisher has no plans of obliging and he is in the process of gaining additional support for a closer look at the inner workings of the union.
Yahoo! Sports reported last week that Fisher pushed for the review, but Hunter had the movement halted on Tuesday. He sent a union memo obtained by SI.com that stated the executive committee "voted to rescind the resolution it made last week to conduct a review of the NBPA's practices and finances" because "the review was unnecessary since there had been a recent independent audit of the NBPA's finances which raised no issues."
A source on the executive committee told SI.com on Thursday that "[Fisher] wasn't authorized to make the call on our behalf without discussing it with us."
But according to a source with knowledge of the situation, Fisher's strong suspicions remain about the way in which the union's business has been run in recent years. The source said that support outside of the union is growing among players and agents. And while the executive committee has made its stance known, there are plenty of others among the league's 400-plus players who were highly critical of Hunter and the union during the lockout that ended in December and are believed to be behind this latest push.
The executive committee's unexpected backing of Hunter this week and their reluctance to conduct the business review has only led to more questions of Fisher and his supporters.
While Fisher has two more seasons left on his term as NBPA president, Hunter -- a former U.S. attorney and pro football player who joined the union in 1996 -- has a contract that runs through 2016. During All-Star weekend in Orlando in February, Hunter was asked about the many players and agents unhappy with his work and the idea that the monkey wasn't off his back just because the lockout was over.
"You'd have to ask the people who supposedly put it on there, whether or not it's still on there or not," Hunter told SI.com then. "I don't even think about that. I do my job. I'm under contract. That's it. I don't take it personally. People have a right to their opinions.
"I try to be pretty insular. I have friends, people that I confide in, people I trust. And that's what I do. I know a lot of this is motivated by other folks, so I don't let it bother me. I couldn't care less."