Heat’s LeBron James confirms he is mulling NBPA president bid
LeBron James already has a host of titles on his résumé — Rookie of the Year, All-Star, MVP, Finals MVP, All-NBA First Team selection, All-Defensive First Team selection, NBA champion, Olympic gold medalist, Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year — but he has one more in mind: union leader.
ESPN.com reports that the Heat forward has confirmed that he is mulling a bid for the National Basketball Players Association presidency and that he would be running on a platform of change.
“I just think the union is going backwards, and it’s not in a good place right now,” James said Saturday in an interview with ESPN after an event for his foundation at which he gave away hundreds of bicycles and tablet computers to underprivileged children in his hometown.
“I think my voice could be huge in that situation.”
“I’m not sure I have the time to do it, but it’s something I’m going to think about with my team and go from there,” James said. “But I think we all can agree there’s been a lot of transition in our union in the last couple of years. If it’s not me in that seat then I hope it’s someone who is comfortable with it and can do the job.”
FoxSports.com first reported James’ interest in the position, which was filled by Thunder guard Derek Fisher since 2006.
“It’s something he has talked about with a small group of people,” a source with close ties to James told FOXSports.com on Wednesday. “He was very vocal at the meeting during the All-Star Weekend about the need for the union to dramatically change. There is a new executive director coming in and new commissioner. He recognizes that this is the time for the union to change.”
“LeBron doesn’t do anything halfway and he has serious concerns about whether he has the time he knows the job requires,” the source said. “The demands on LeBron’s time are already substantial. Whether it’s formally or informally, LeBron has strong opinions on the future of the union and will be very active in the rebuilding process.”
Back in February, the NBPA unanimously voted to cut ties with executive director Billy Hunter, who had worked for the organization since 1996, after a damaging review of the union’s business practices revealed a number of questionable business practices.
The internal investigation, sought by Fisher and conducted by the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison law firm, produced a lengthy report that called into question the presence of Hunter’s family members on the NBPA’s payroll, the legality of Hunter’s contract, potential conflicts of interest and the possible misuse of NBPA funds. One example: Fisher received a $22,000 watch from Hunter purchased with union funds.
The NBPA will reportedly meet later this summer in Las Vegas to discuss its leadership questions.
The players saw their slice of Basketball-Related Income drop from 57 percent to roughly 50 percent in the latest round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, which also resulted in a lockout that produced a shortened 66-game 2011-12 season. The league’s current labor agreement includes an opt-out for either side in 2017, setting up another possible showdown.
Hall of Famers Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Oscar Robertson, Bob Lanier, Isiah Thomas and Patrick Ewing have all held the position since the union was founded in 1954. Over the last decade, Michael Curry, Antonio Davis and Fisher have served as president.
James has won the league’s MVP award in four of the last five seasons and has led the Heat to back-to-back titles.