Wojnarowski reports that Billy Hunter's dismissal, widely presumed to be an inevitability after the myriad scandals that recently punctured his cocoon of power, was voted on and affirmed by a group of NBA players this afternoon. A bit more on the meeting that sealed his fate once and for all:
Players have been meeting since 1:30. Some 35-50 players were expected. LeBron, CP3, Russell Westbrook, Joakim Noah, TChandler in attendance— Howard Beck (@HowardBeckNYT) February 16, 2013
LeBron and Jerry Stackhouse were two of most vocal players in union rep meeting, sources say. Stack directed ire at president Derek Fisher.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 16, 2013
The NBPA player rep vote on Billy Hunter's ouster was 24-0, sources tell Y! Apparently, six teams weren't represented at meeting.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 16, 2013
Hunter, generally reputed to be a strong fighter for players' rights before his recent downfall, never had much of a chance after Theodore V. Wells's January report. That independent inquiry, demanded by Derek Fisher, came up with findings ranging from nepotism and an overly unilateral decision-making process to badly mismanaged funds and investments; the report ultimately did not find Hunter guilty of any crimes. Hunter is now under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office, the Labor Department, and New York's attorney general.
Neither Hunter nor his representation were invited to today's meeting, which may mean this decision is open to challenge:
His lawyers have indicated that they will fight to enforce his contract, which calls for Hunter to be paid about $10.5 million over the next three and a half years.
Union officials effectively denied Hunter's request to attend the meeting, infuriating his lawyers, who called the process, including his potential dismissal, "unfair and invalid."
Other analyses, from the fair and evenhanded to, well, Whitlock, have generally agreed with that assertion—Hunter's belief that he's been denied due process here is not merely the desperate ranting of a fallen man. If he sues for the $10.5 million owed him on his contract, the way in which he was dismissed could factor into his case. If the U.S. attorney, Labor Department and New York attorney general find him guilty of fraud or other crimes, the back pay will probably be a moot point.
A decision on a replacement for Hunter is pending, though it's hard not to think that Fisher, not long ago mostly known as the jankiest player on some great Lakers' teams (and one Thunder roster), is very well-positioned to step in.