Wizards guard Maurice Evans confirmed Friday afternoon that the National Basketball Players Association executive committee is pushing for the resignation of union president and Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher, who has been involved in an escalating feud with union executive director Billy Hunter that dates back to the NBA lockout.
Here’s what Evans, who is a union vice president, had to say Friday after Wizards practice:
“It’s been a series of calls, starting last week with Derek trying to initiate a business review and audit of the union. But he did that without the consent of the board, and no one player, even the president, has more responsibility or power than the other players. It’s joint decisions that are made, and no one on the board supported that decision, and we feel that we should handle whatever allegations we have against the union, against Billy Hunter, or Derek Fisher for that matter, internally.
“We’ve given Derek that respect in the past. Everything that was alleged during the lockout, we pulled him in and handled those matters internally. We don’t feel like he’s given Billy that proper respect. We welcomed him to a call where he could come and defend himself and whatever allegations he had or concerns for the union, we would address them at that time, because a lot of players had questions of him as well, and he refused to come on the call. He tried to contend with the union call that we had with all the executive members, with the exception of Chris Paul because he had practice. It was disappointing that he refused to come on the call, and he’s trying to chime in multiple times to all of the players.
"Finally, during that call, all of us asked Billy about misappropriation of funds, about nepotism, strategy, lockout strategy, etc. We all took part in the lockout strategy as well so therefore we’re just as much responsible for any decision made during the lockout as well. But as far as the nepotism and the misallocation of funds and any other supposed, alleged questions, Billy answered those questions to our satisfaction, was very open and candid with us, and we were satisfied, and again, the players were disappointed because Derek has yet to address us, the players.
“The general body, the 400 players that we represent, they have no understanding of what’s going on. So we’re doing them a disservice by allowing the situation to drag on or flame up as if there’s really a problem. We should be focusing on the season that we’re having. We have a great season going. In both conferences, there’s a lot of parity and competition for the last spots in the playoffs, and this is exactly what we’re trying to accomplish with the CBA.”
What is the next step with Fisher?
“We sent out a letter on behalf of the entire board to Derek, telling Derek that we have appreciated his leadership up until this point, up until the lockout. From the end of the lockout to now, we have been dissatisfied with his actions. There's been a number of actions that have been questionable, and that have lost him the confidence of the board, not the other players, because the other players are not up to speed with what's going on.
“So we've asked Derek to resign his position and allow us to separate from the union and leave with his integrity, and all the good things that he's done before this thing gets messy, because that's not what we're about.”
Does Fisher have specific charges against Hunter, or is he on a fishing expedition?
“I can't speak on Derek's behalf, but we have conducted an audit as recent as February which did not show any discrepancies. The last time [before February] we conducted a business review was 2006, and they were open to a business review.
“But again, we were more concerned with the procedure, the way this came about. It seems more like a personal vendetta than it does business that needs to be conducted. Again, we're satisfied with the way the union is being run. We do feel like there are some things that can be run more efficiently, but again, we accomplished the goal at hand, which was to get a deal.
“Now at our summer meetings, and even at All-Star weekend, we started to address ways to make the union function more efficiently and better serve the needs of the players. Again, there was no president there. I had to take on those responsibilities, because again he [Fisher] chose not to participate. There have been a number of actions we're trying to handle internally as best we can.
If Fisher refuses to resign, what happens next?
“We will have a board meeting, meet with Mr. Hunter and determine what the next steps are, but again, we're trying to ask Derek to resign rather than trying to force Derek out of his position because we still do have respect for Derek, and we wish nothing but the best for him. He has done a great job up until the negotiations.
Evans said there will be another call on Friday among the union executive committee, a group that includes, according to the union website, Roger Mason Jr., Keyon Dooling (Celtics), James Jones (Heat), Matt Bonner (Spurs), Chris Paul (Clippers), Theo Ratliff and Etan Thomas.