Amid Reports of a Leadership Side Deal, NBA Players’ Union Plots Next Move in Lockout Talks

The executive committee has been busy this week squashing rumors about a rift between executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher.

Posted: 11/03/2011 01:49 PM EDT
NBA Lockout, Derek Fisher, players, Billy Hunter

With the threat of a lingering lockout and now allegations of dissension within the NBA Players Association, the union's executive committee will meet Thursday to map out their next move. The league's regular season was originally scheduled to begin this week.
 
Rumors are running rampant that union president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter are at odds on some of the key issues preventing a new collective bargaining agreement from being reached. Both have denied any type of rift.
 
"Contrary to what is being said in the media, Derek, myself and the Negotiating Committee are of one accord,” Hunter wrote in a letter to the NBA players Tuesday night that was obtained by ESPN.com. “Derek is a fearless defender of player rights both at the bargaining table and behind the scenes, and he carries out his duties as President with the same degree of courage, focus and tenacity that he has exhibited on the court as a five-time champion. We are all well served to have Derek in a leadership capacity during these negotiations."
 
Fisher sent out a letter to the players Monday, professing his loyalty to them after a Foxsports.com column by Jason Whitlock accused the Los Angeles Lakers point guard of being in the pocket of David Stern. The column claims that Fisher promised to deliver the players’ approval on the 50-50 basketball-related income (BRI) revenue split, which seems to be the major holdup in the four-month-old lockout.
 
Fisher has denied any such side deal exists.
 
"The statements made in recent articles on the Fox Sports website are inexcusable,” Fisher wrote. “Among the many baseless accusations, to allege that I am working with the league for my personal gain is unequivocally false. The implication that I am doing anything but working in the best interests of the players is disgusting, defamatory and a flat-out lie.
 
"Regardless of the media reports, the Players Association, our staff, Executive Director and Executive Committee are unified and working side-by-side to serve our players," Fisher continued. "There should be no more distractions. We must continue to negotiate a fair deal for our players."

Contact Terrance Harris at terrancefharris@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris.

(Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images)

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