Billy Hunter, the disgraced and now former head of the NBA Players Association, met his inevitable demise this weekend (though he continues to put up a fight.) Players voted unanimously to give him the boot, and LeBron James stepped up at the moment of truth. Per the NY Times: “On Saturday afternoon, LeBron James was due at a local Boys and Girls Club, to help refurbish a gymnasium, which for James is an annual All-Star weekend tradition. The boys and girls expected James at 2:30 p.m. He arrived at 3:15. This was one case where a star athlete’s tardiness was a mark of virtue, not casual disregard. James, the N.B.A.’s reigning most valuable player, the engine of the Miami Heat’s 2012 championship, had been hunkered down in a hotel conference room, with about 40 of his fellow players, stars and nonstars alike, working diligently to repair their scandalized union. The players took a bold step Saturday, firing the union’s executive director, Billy Hunter, whose business practices are being investigated by three government agencies. The sentiment in the room was said to be unanimous, but it was driven by two forceful figures: Jerry Stackhouse, an 18-year veteran, and James, a three-time M.V.P. Amid an orgy of contrived competition, relentless marketing, tired events and semiscripted outcomes, James’s sudden civic turn was perhaps the most real moment of the weekend. ‘Well, it’s our future,’ James said Sunday after the West beat the East, 143-138, in the All-Star Game. ‘Our current state as of yesterday wasn’t in the best possible position we can be in. And that’s why Billy Hunter’s duties was relieved. And now we feel comfortable with where we’re at right now. But we got a long way to go.’ […] In the players union, as in the N.B.A., star power matters. Aura matters. Respect matters. So when James started asking pointed questions and making pointed statements, the room took notice. James ‘practically cross-examined’ the lawyers who prepared the audit, according to someone in the room. James and Stackhouse grilled Derek Fisher about signing Hunter’s most recent contract — the one that, according to the audit, was never properly approved. They demanded explanations from the committee members who previously sided with Hunter over Fisher. ‘It was spectacular,’ said the person who was in the room. And it was unusual.”
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