Billy Hunter: Billionaires run amok

October, 24, 2011
10/24/11
4:43
PM ET
Abbott By Henry Abbott
ESPN.com
Archive
The executive director of the Players Association, Billy Hunter, is on the B.S. Report today with Bill Simmons. He said that as soon as his players said they wanted to compromise, he would get them a deal. But at the moment the rhetoric sounds nothing like that:
Professional athletes are not given the credit they should be. Why? Because they're principled individuals. And I think they realize that the struggles that they're incurring -- they may be paid at a higher level -- but it's the same issues that we're seeing are endemic right now not only in our own country but around the world.

It is about the top, who have the leverage and the power beginning to impose upon other folks, the workers of the world. And I know there's a struggle when we talk wealth, you're going to say to me we're talking about billionaires and millionaires. Well, a guy making a few dollars during his playing career, but most of our players when they end playing basketball, they're going to be living for another 40 years or so. And I don't know how long that money's going to last, even if they've made every prudent investment they can possibly make, at what level they're going to be able to live.

But after a while it just become a principle. For a lot of these players, that's what it's about. They feel as though the owners have dug in. They've taken the hard line, they're determined to break the players and the union and they refer to the NHL as an example of what can happen here. And so the players are a little more strident and they can say look ... it's all about the principle. I may be willing to take the hit for a while to demonstrate the principle is as important to me and what we've put in place.

As there were people who came before me who made the sacrifice, and I'm benefitting, maybe I need to make a little sacrifice and make sure that the system is reflective of what I think it should look like ten or 15 or 20 years from now.

A few other notes:
  • Hunter says at about the 36-minute mark, that he had told the owners that concessions on system issues might make the NBA's 50/50 offer "more palatable" to players. In other words, it sounds the owners have a decent shot at getting their 50/50, if they'll give up some of their cap issues.
  • We also learn that Billy Hunter and David Stern both belonged to the same fraternity -- Hunter at Syracuse, and Stern at Rutgers. New Warriors co-owner Peter Guber was in the same fraternity with Hunter at Syracuse.
  • Hunter also adds, when Simmons asked him about Bryant Gumbel's comments, Hunter says: "I don't think David is racist at all."

Henry Abbott | email

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