NBAPA head Billy Hunter, lately revealed to the general public to be a nepotism-loving, watch-gifting union boss in the Tammany style, is on indefinite leave as of yesterday. The NBAPA hired outside counsel, likely in advance of an attempt to oust Hunter permanently, while Hunter declared the NBAPA's actions against him unlawful under the union's guidelines, setting up a potentially awkward changing of the guard. Shane Battier told the Associated Press that the report accusing Hunter of impropriety was "alarming," if not the bombshell it may have appeared to outsiders:
"To be honest with you, the buzz is that there was absolutely nothing in the report that was new news. Guys who have been around knew everything in the report was happening for the last eight years," Battier said. "So that's sort of the irony. There was a big hub-bub about it nationwide, but players were like, 'Yeah, I heard that. Doesn't surprise me, it's accurate.'"
The power struggle may prove interesting in its own right, but until it gets rolling, let's spend a minute on the part of pro sports labor unrest that provides a window into which players actually end up with seats at the table when negotiations start. Shane Battier is a given—he plays like someone who likes arguing about contractual minutiae—but reports of Hunter's suspension have revealed the intellectual sides of players that, frankly, don't seem too on the ball. Yesterday, noted bong-shopper Joakim Noah voiced his displeasure with NBAPA head Billy Hunter, and it turns out that Noah, as alternate union rep for the Chicago Bulls, is very much entitled to his opinion on the issue:
Joakim Noah, the Chicago Bulls' alternate union rep, said team hasn't taken position yet on Billy Hunter. But ...— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) February 2, 2013
Noah said, “I don’t think the players are too happy, to be honest with you. I think there’s a lot of explaining to be done.”— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) February 2, 2013
And Kris Humphries (!) is his counterpart on the Nets:
Kris Humphries, the Nets' player rep, tells NYT that he agrees with decision to place Billy Hunter on leave.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) February 1, 2013
Asked Humphries about whether Hunter should be dismissed. "I don’t think he’ll have our support," he said.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) February 1, 2013
He then poured some Patron on the floor, to indicate his displeasure. The whole list of team representatives is good perusing, especially for NBA geeks that see the league for what it is: a collection of iconoclastic, frequently surprising personalities. The Phoenix Suns rep is once uncoachable hell-raiser Sebastian Telfair. Glen Davis, budding R&B star and a guy who cried on the bench when Kevin Garnett yelled at him, is apparently the most responsible and plugged-in member of the Magic. James Jones, the Heat forward who looks like he's seen a ghost every time he steps inside the three-point line? Executive committee member. It's either a great indicator that you can't judge a player's personality by their oncourt demeanor, or a great explanation for Billy Hunter hiring his family members for the last 16 years without fear of reprisal.