Over the weekend, Jason Whitlock wrote a column referencing a source who told FoxSports.com that the belief existed amongst the NBA Players Association that Derek Fisher had been co-opted by Commissioner David Stern. He used a lot of references from The Wire in the piece, and essentially said that Fisher promised Stern he could deliver the union at a 50-50 BRI split. In return, Stern would reward Fisher’s allegiance with a cushy NBA office job somewhere just as soon as he retired from the League. This side-deal was then said to have caused a rift in the players union, that currently has them divided.
On Monday night in a letter distributed throughout the NBA Players Association, Fisher responded directly to the allegations in Whitlock’s article. He didn’t sound too happy about it either.
First for some additional context, here is an excerpt of what Whitlock wrote this weekend specifically:
This is fact: The belief that NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher has been co-opted by commissioner David Stern — and promised the commish he could deliver the union at 50-50 — caused NBPA executive director Billy Hunter and at least one member of the union’s executive committee to confront Fisher on Friday morning and make him reassess his 50-50 push, a source familiar with the negotiations told FOXSports.com Friday afternoon.
A veteran NBA player familiar with the negotiations characterized the concerns about Fisher’s allegiance as similar to the concerns about Michael Curry in 2005, the year of the league’s last collective-bargaining agreement.
Michael Curry was the union’s president during the last collective bargaining session, and he stepped down from that position as soon as an agreement was reached to then immediately accept the VP of Player Development job in the NBA D-League the next day. He was then promoted to VP of Basketball Ops from there, took a job coaching the Pistons out of nowhere, and allegedly has David Stern listed as a reference for each and every job he’s applied for ever since.
I made that last part up, but below is more from Whitlock on Fisher:
According to my source, at least one five-time champion, NBA superstar with the initials K.B. was on board with Fisher’s push for a 50-50 split. Hunter is firm that the players should not accept less than 52-48. According to my source, Hunter and a member of the executive committee convinced Fisher to stand firm at 52-48 after they questioned the Lakers point guard about his relationship with Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver.
According to reports, Hunter ended Friday’s negotiating session, telling Stern the union would not budge on 52-48.
It has been my belief throughout this process that Fisher is the wrong person to be the president of the union. He has earned a substantial amount of money from playing in the NBA. But not enough that he can’t be influenced and baited by the NBA establishment.
Kwame Brown and Keith Bogans didn’t win five titles yet, so you can rule those two guys out if you’re trying to figure out who he’s referencing there with those initials. He’s not talking about Keith Benson either.
Whitlock also ended his column by saying it was a fact that Fisher and Billy Hunter haven’t been on the same page throughout this lockout too. All of which aroused the following response from Fisher on Monday night. That letter Fisher sent to the union was obtained by ESPN, and Fisher’s comments below were first reported through a series of tweets by Marc Stein.
That response from Derek Fisher is as follows (via @STEIN_LINE_HQ):
In latest letter to fellow players, obtained by ESPN.com union president Derek Fisher strongly denies rift w/Billy Hunter.
Fisher’s response to weekend report by @WhitlockJason that Hunter questioned Fish relationship w/David Stern and Adam Silver follows:
Wrote Fisher: “Usually I wouldn’t even dignify absurd media reports with a comment. But before these reports go any further, let me say …
Fisher continued: “… on the record to each of you (that) my loyalty has and always will be with the players. Anyone that questions that …
More Fish: “or doubts that does not know me, my history and what I stand for. And quite frankly, how dare anyone call that into question?”
Last Fish: “Players Association is united and reports to contrary are false … no side agreements, no side negotiations or anything close.”
So that’s Derek Fisher calling Whitlock’s column an “absurd media report” that he usually wouldn’t dignify with a comment but felt like he needed to dignify with some comments this time. I imagine Whitlock will be responding shortly.
For whatever it’s worth, the further Fisher goes with his denial of these claims – true or not – the more people will be paying attention to that first job he takes after he retires. More people than were probably paying attention to what Mike Curry was doing when he signed up with the D-League that is. Not to mention that engaging in this back-and-forth is probably not the best use of the player union’s time right now too.