Posted November 21, 2013

Billy Hunter’s court filings allege Kobe Bryant behind ‘secret’ labor deal

NBA
Kobe Bryant was among NBA players appearing with Billy Hunter during 2011 labor talks. (Patrick McDermott/Getty)

Kobe Bryant was among NBA players appearing with Billy Hunter during 2011 labor talks. (Patrick McDermott/Getty)

Filings in Billy Hunter’s lawsuit against the National Basketball Players Association, reveal his claims that Kobe Bryant and his agent, Rob Pelinka, pushed him to accept a 50-50 labor deal to end the 2011 lockout, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports.

Hunter, the ousted former executive director, filed suit against the players union, former president Derek Fisher and his business manager, Jamie Wior, last week.

Hunter alleges defamation and breach of contract and points to Fisher’s alleged role in a so-called secret deal with the owners usurped Hunter’s authority as the sole bargaining agent under the NBPA’s by-laws. He is seeking up to $10.5 million in salary and benefits he claims are owed him since he was voted out in February of 2013 under a contract signed in 2011.

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According to the report, court documents also provide details of an alleged power play by Bryant. Hunter claims Bryant urged him to move away from the 52 percent revenue split.

But the most interesting series of events outlined by Hunter were those linking Bryant and Pelinka (who also represents Fisher) to the surprising collapse of negotiations at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on Oct. 28, 2011 — about a month before a new labor deal finally was struck, salvaging a 66-game season and reordering the financial and competitive landscape of the sport.

“Late in the evening before the Waldorf Astoria meeting, I was already in bed for the night when my phone rang,” Hunter wrote in the court filing. “The caller identified himself as the ‘Black Mamba.’ I knew it was Kobe Bryant, a superstar player for the Los Angeles Lakers and the highest paid player in the NBA.”

Bryant informed Hunter that his agent, Pelinka also was on the phone.

At that point, Hunter said that Bryant urged him to accept a 50-50 split of revenue in the meeting the following day and “put this thing to bed. … Do the deal.”

Hunter said Bryant also told him, “I got your back.”

Pelinka did not respond to a request for comment, nor did Fisher’s business manager, Wior. The NBPA also did not issue a statement about Hunter’s latest allegations.


11 comments
Whatever
Whatever

So what if Kobe called him urging him to accept the 50/50 deal? It was wall publicized that many NBA players who had not managed their money well were hurting financially and were also pushing for a deal to get done. The owners had staked out a strong and "line in the sand" position at 50/50, and the owners could survive much longer than the players. That doesn't prove anything, except perhaps show that Hunter refused to listen to his players and perhaps was running rogue in the negotiations.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

Of course Kobe (and other highly paid stars in the NBA don't care if the revenue split went down from 57% to the players to 52 or to the 50/50).

They were still going to get their money.  It would be the bottom guys on the roster who stood to earn less, players like the 8th man on the roster down to number 15 (for the teams who carry 15 that is).

Kobe will soon surpass $300 million in career earnings.  Then add on all the endorsement money he's made over the yrs.  He's still quite popular in China right now.

Also Kobe was older when this was happening, not a 22 yr old still in the beginning of his career.  He might have sung a different tune about dropping it to 50/50 with so many yrs of earning ahead of him.



creeper74
creeper74

I just giggled at the idea of Kobe referring to himself as "Black Mamba".

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@Sportsfan18 

Yea, Kobe didn't want to lose a season where he was going to make north of 20 million dollars and which might be one of his last chances to win a ring and tie Michael Jordan.

That's the inherent problem when the NBA players try to bargain with the owners:  they have limited careers, and the best and most influential players like Bryant, Garnett, etc have every incentive in the world to screw the little guys or the next generation of players instead of missing out on limited, massive paydays.

Azeron
Azeron

@Sportsfan18 He's making 30 million this season.  The lockout ending was certainly to his advantage.

Azeron
Azeron

@creeper74 Agreed.  When a person gives himself a nickname that speaks to a whole 'nother level of narcissism.

CALI_DREAMING
CALI_DREAMING

@Azeron @creeper74 

I am a lifelong Lakers' Fan and I agree 100%, I was thought that was just weird. Who does that? Shaq, did things like that as a joke....but Kobe, he takes that crap seriously.