Billy Hunter Says Kobe Bryant Pressured Him to End NBA Lockout in Secret Deal
No one wants to rehash details of the god-awful lockout. We understand this perfectly. But this is extremely important news: Kobe Bryant identifies himself over the phone as “The Black Mamba”. Of course he does! According to Billy Hunter, Bryant worked alongside Derek Fisher to work out a secret deal to end the lockout (which eventually led to Hunter losing his job.) Per CBS Sports:
Billy Hunter, the ousted former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, has identified Kobe Bryant and his agent, Rob Pelinka, as the power brokers who pushed him to accept a 50-50 labor deal that Hunter claims was negotiated behind his back during the 2011 lockout. In a 21-page court filing this week in Hunter’s lawsuit against the NBPA, its former president, Derek Fisher, and his business manager, Jamie Wior, Hunter laid out the case for how he believes he was sandbagged by Fisher during the labor talks. Hunter is alleging defamation and breach of contract in the lawsuit, and Fisher’s alleged role in a so-called secret deal with the owners to end the lockout would be relevant if Fisher usurped Hunter’s authority as the sole bargaining agent for the players under the NBPA’s by-laws. Hunter, who was voted out as executive director in February 2013, is seeking as much as $10.5 million in pay and benefits owed to him under a 2010 contract extension that Fisher, as union president, approved. Hunter, whose actions as union chief also have been the subject of several criminal investigations, filed statements with the California Superior Court in Los Angeles from three former executive committee members who stated that his contract with the NBPA — never voted on by the full board of player representatives — was valid.
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.”