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NBA union head BIlly Hunter placed on leave

NEW YORK (AP) - Billy Hunter is being placed on an indefinite leave as executive director of the NBA players association, following a report that was critical of his leadership and urged players to consider his future with the organization.

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The union is forming an interim executive committee and advisory committee, the group's president, Derek Fisher, said in a statement released Friday.

Fisher pushed for the outside review of Hunter and the union. That examination by a New York law firm found no illegal use of funds but cited Hunter for a number of poor choices and recommended players discuss whether he should remain in charge during their All-Star weekend meetings.

``Because of the unusual circumstances at the union, a result of mismanagement extensively documented by the Paul, Weiss report, the committees have decided to take immediate actions that allow them to assess the situation fully and build a stronger, more effective organization that better represents their membership,'' the statement released through Fisher's publicist said.

Released last month after an eight-month review, the report found that Hunter was aware his $3 million per year contract was never properly approved, criticized his hiring of family members and friends, and said there were other conflicts of interests he should have avoided.

Fisher's statement said that because of the ongoing investigations being conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. attorney's office, the players wanted the executive committee to take steps to protect them.

``Unfortunately, it appears that union management has lost sight of the NBPA's only task, to serve the best interests of their membership. This is the reason I called for a review almost a year ago,'' Fisher said. ``The findings of that review confirm this unfortunate truth and we must now move forward as players. Immediate change is necessary and I, along with the committee members, are committed to driving the process as difficult as it may be.''

Union attorney Ron Klempner will be the acting executive director.

The union also said its All-Star weekend meetings may be revised so all players can attend without conflict.

Hunter, who has headed the union since 1996, and Fisher clashed during the lockout that lasted from July-December 2011. Agents were angry with Hunter's strategies, though he has remained popular and respected by many players.

However, the review gives them reason to consider his future. It accuses him of spending improperly on travel and gifts, questions his expense reports and unused vacation time pay, saying he ``paid little attention to the appearance of impropriety.''

Hunter, 70, has said he looks forward to continuing in his position and recently made changes based on the review's findings such as instituting an anti-nepotism policy. He fired his daughter and daughter-in-law, and announced the union would no longer use a financial institution that employs his son.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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