Derek Fisher rejects call to step down
NEW YORK -- Derek Fisher has rejected a call from the National Basketball Players Association's executive committee to resign as president, instead urging players to seek a review of the union's finances.
Hours after the NBPA said in a statement Friday the executive committee voted 8-0 this week that it had lost confidence in Fisher's ability to lead, Fisher reiterated he will not step down.
"I, along with many others, are extremely disappointed with the Executive Committee," Fisher said Friday in a statement. "Their demand for my resignation and their need to protect the NBPA management and their own best interests instead of protecting the players we were elected to serve is unfortunate."
Fisher, who recently signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder after playing most of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, has been the union's president since 2006. He led players during the negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement this offseason.
I, along with many others, are extremely disappointed with the Executive Committee. Their demand for my resignation and their need to protect the NBPA management and their own best interests instead of protecting the players we were elected to serve is unfortunate.” -- Derek Fisher said Friday in a statement
Fisher still seems to have the support of his former Lakers teammates and coach.
"I'm going to support him, for sure," Lakers point guard and player representative Steve Blake said Saturday. "I don't know all the details, like I said, but as of right now, I don't have a reason not to support him."
"He's a great guy. He's a natural-born leader," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "He's done a lot, people would say, for L.A. and the Lakers but he's done a lot for the game."
As the battle escalates, union executive director Billy Hunter has hired a public relations firm and has called for a player representative conference call in an attempt to oust Fisher, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher Friday morning.
The two union leaders have been at odds since a rumor surfaced during the lockout that Fisher had met privately with commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver to cut a deal, a rumor that never was substantiated and that some in Fisher's circle now suspect came from Hunter to undermine Fisher's authority, sources said.
The rift peaked Wednesday with the executive committee's vote.
"The Executive Committee based its decision on numerous instances over the past six months, where Fisher engaged in conduct detrimental to the union, including acting in contravention of the players' best interests, during collective bargaining, declining to follow the NBPA Constitution, and failing to uphold the duties of the Union President," the committee statement said.
Fisher sent a letter earlier this week to player reps informing them that the union's executive committee had decided the NBPA should undergo a business review, according to one Eastern Conference player representative. Several executive committee members, however, were surprised by the tone of the letter because the decision was not unanimous, another source said.
According to several sources, Hunter then contacted each committee member and convinced them the union already undergoes a regular internal audit and that Fisher's suggestion was both redundant and a personal attack on Hunter's leadership.
The committee, sources say, reversed course on the business review and, as an added measure, agreed to ask Fisher to step down.
Fisher, however, has refused to relinquish his position, prompting Hunter to organize a call among the team player representatives, supposedly to solicit their support for Fisher's ouster.
Fisher's concerns stem from indications that Hunter has utilized player union funds without executive committee approval, sources said.
Fisher said any player may request an independent review of the union's business practices and finances.
Kobe Bryant, Fisher's longtime teammate on the Lakers said an audit might make sense.
"What's wrong with doing an audit? I'm very curious about that. Extremely. We all should be," Bryant said.
"To be honest, my first thought is to focus on this audit. That's my first reaction," Bryant said. "The Derek thing, if guys don't want him in there then you really can't do anything about that, but as an organization, every organization does an audit every now and then. I don't see anything wrong with doing an independent audit. It's not that big of a deal. Just get it done."
"The allegations that are now being directed at me are defamatory," Fisher said. "But I urge our members to order an independent review beginning immediately and that will be proven along with finding out definitively if there are any issues with the NBPA's business practices and finances."
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin and The Associated Press was used in this report.