Rick Barry: “Billy Hunter Is One Of The Worst Things That Happened To The NBA”

Billy Hunter (Getty Images photo via Daylife.com)Rick Barry is known for being, oh, let’s use the word “abrasive.”  He also comes from an era where he made waves by signing a “lucrative” three-year, $500,000 contract.  So it’s no shock that a perpetually angry old-school guy who made as much over his playing career as Eddy Curry made in a couple of months has no love for Billy Hunter.  And by no love, I mean:

“If I was still a player today I would be totally ticked off by the fact that we didn’t make a deal months ago. I really do believe that this could’ve been resolved and should’ve been resolved a long time ago. Why they always have to come down to this I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of Billy Hunter. I think Billy Hunter is one of the worst things that happened to the NBA. Yes he got them an unbelievable deal last time but he also was responsible for the lockout in the late 90’s which cost the players one third of their salaries basically and got nothing for it. The same thing is happening here. What they’re doing is they’re making a situation which is a bad situation worse by standing firm. Standing firm for what? You’re standing firm to get nothing. All you’re trying to do is minimize the losses that you have to accept in order for there to be a deal put in place. The owners have made it perfectly clear they can’t survive with the way the deal was last time. I keep reading these statements ‘well we’re not going to give back what we fought so hard to get.’ Well what you got was more than you should’ve gotten. Accept it, lick your wounds, make a deal, take a little bit of a reduction. Plus what I’ve heard is that they’re not actually going to lose their salary. The guys that are playing now, it will have no impact on their salaries. This is for the future. Chauncey Billups coming out and saying ‘I’m willing to lose my 14 million dollars.’ For what? That’s just idiotic from an economic standpoint.”

I get that Billy Hunter is unpopular now.  He’s probably done as the head of the Players Union.  But the average NBA salary is somewhere around $5 million.  Guys are making $20+ million this season.  Guys in the league more than five years make, at MINIMUM, more than a million dollars a year.  The point is, Hunter has been part of the process that has made these guys very very very rich.  And that’s pretty much what the union is supposed to do. 

Every union out there is supposed to make sure workers get a fair wage and good working conditions.  You tell me who has a better wage and working conditions than NBA players?  Chartered flights, millions of dollars, five-star hotels… they even get MEAL MONEY ON THE ROAD!  Kobe Bryant gets a per diem when the Lakers go on a road trip.  As if his $20 million isn’t enough to pay for room service.

Rick Barry is bitter.  He’s always bitter.  He’s probably pissed off that Darko Milicic has already made 10 times more than he’s probably worth right now.  Barry is a legend and Darko is barely serviceable.  But ease off the haterade there Ricky.  

It doesn’t stop there.  I recommend just going and reading it for yourself.  I’m surprised Barry isn’t negotiating along side David Stern at this point.