Reports: Heat’s LeBron James opts against NBPA presidency bid
Two days after LeBron James confirmed that he was interested in pursuing a bid for the National Basketball Players Association’s presidency, the Heat forward has reportedly decided to abort his campaign.
USA Today Sports reports that James will not run for an NBPA leadership position due to his intense schedule and that NBPA vice president Roger Mason Jr. is a “strong candidate” to take over the presidency.
After days of careful consideration and research, Miami Heat star LeBron James decided he will not run for president or first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, a person familiar with James’ decision told USA TODAY Sports.
Interested in union matters and the direction of the NBPA, James had considered both executive committee positions comprised of players but concluded he would not have enough time at this point in his career to give the positions the necessary attention they require. James called Heat teammate and NBPA secretary-treasurer James Jones on Monday and told him of his decision.
“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.
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 all have held the position since the union was founded in 1954. Over the last decade, Michael Curry, Antonio Davis and Fisher each 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.