Former NBA players' union executive director Billy Hunter has claimed that Lakers star Kobe Bryant and agent Rob Pelinka, acting on behalf of union president Derek Fisher, meddled with his efforts to end the 2011 lockout.
In a Los Angeles Superior Court filing Thursday that is part of his wrongful-termination lawsuit, Hunter stated that he received a call from Bryant and Pelinka the night before he was scheduled to meet with league officials in October 2011. According to Hunter, the player and his agent told him to agree to a 50-50 split of basketball-related income.
"On the phone call, Bryant told me to agree to the new CBA [collective bargaining agreement] at a 50-50 share of BRI, saying, ‘I know that tomorrow is a big day. You can put this thing to bed. Do the deal,’ and also telling me, ‘I got your back,’ " Hunter said in the court filing. "What Bryant and Pelinka were telling me is that a 50-50 deal had already been completed behind my back.”
Hunter said he then confronted Fisher, who was then Bryant's teammate, about whether negotiations had circumvented Hunter.
“I asked him whether he had been secretly negotiating directly with the owners. ... Fisher did not deny the existence of the secret negotiations with NBA owners, but denied having had a role in them," Hunter said. "Fisher said that it was Bryant and Pelinka who had engaged in secret negotiations with NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, adding that they had ‘thrown [Fisher] under the bus.’ ”
The sides eventually agreed to a sliding scale that would give players between 49% and 51% of the league's annual revenue.
Bryant did not practice Thursday or speak with reporters. Pelinka did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Fisher's publicist, Jamie Wior, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Hunter sued Fisher and the players' union in May for defamation and breach of contract, three months after the players fired Hunter amid charges of nepotism, bribery and abuse of resources. Chris Paul replaced Fisher in August as the president of the players' union, which is still seeking a new executive director.
Hunter's court filing Thursday also included statements of support from three former members of the players' union's executive committee: Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas and Maurice Evans.
“Given everything I know about Mr. Hunter’s service to the union and the benefit the union received from Mr. Hunter’s work," Ratliff said, "the union’s current position that Mr. Hunter does not have a valid employment contract is outrageous.”
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