CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Members of the National Basketball Players Association are in no rush to hire a search firm to help select a new executive director.
The focus is on getting more players involved in union activities, said Jerry Stackhouse, an 18-year NBA veteran and first vice president of the union.
The nine-member executive committee is hoping to get former players to help make the union's importance known to the current membership. The committee is also finding out what current players consider their priorities.
"We want to build a great union, but first we have to have our players," Stackhouse said at the University of Virginia, where the NBPA held its 20th Top 100 Camp for high school stars this week. "Before we go talking about a search firm, we want to know: What do the players want?
"Then we can hire a search firm and say, 'We want someone that can do A, B and C.'"
Billy Hunter, the union head since 1996, was ousted as executive director in February in a unanimous vote by players after an investigation into his business practices at NBPA. It found no illegal conduct but cited several conflicts of interest, questionable business decisions and hiring practices.
"He controlled so much, and now we're taking this back," Stackhouse said. "Over the last 18 years, I've paid over $200,000 in fees. It's my union."
The idea that Hunter ran the union without many players knowing what was going on also prompted the executive committee to decide the best thing for the players is a more transparent approach.
Stackhouse mentioned Julius Erving and Bill Bradley as examples of former stars whose input would be sought and said those efforts would begin once the NBA Finals are over. The summer, he said, is the best time to do the business because it's when players aren't as distracted by the rigors of the season.
The union hopes for great attendance from players at its August meeting in Las Vegas.
"What we're trying to do is get as many guys as we can to come together and understand how important this is to buckle down and take on some responsibilities," said Denver Nuggets forward Andre Igoudala, who was at the Top 100 camp participating in an introduction to coaching program.
Igoudala is on the union's executive committee.
He and Stackhouse both say the players bear some responsibility for losing touch with what the union was doing, and Stackhouse hopes the attendance in Las Vegas will show that players understand.
"We're all guilty," he said. "We just kind of trusted. We do it in a lot of areas, not just with our union. We do it with our finances. We've got to educate guys about the union and make them understand that the day's going to come when you're not going to be able to play this game anymore. You've got to start thinking about that and preparing yourself for when the ball stops bouncing. It's a tough transition."
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