HOUSTON — Billy Hunter was ousted as executive director of the union by NBA players Saturday.
"This is our union, and we have taken it back," union president Derek Fisher said. "We want to make it clear we are here to serve only the best interests of the players. No threats, no lies, no distractions will stop us from serving our memberships."
Union attorney Ron Klempner still holds the position after being appointed on an interim basis after Hunter was placed on leave Feb. 1.
Hunter, 70, had led the union since 1996, guiding it through three labor deals and bringing average salaries to above $5 million, highest in team sports.
But an outside review released in January found Hunter knew his 2010 contract extension wasn't properly ratified, spent more than $100,000 on gifts for the executive committee and accepted $1.3 million for unused vacation time when records made it unclear how his time off was kept. In addition, Hunter only recently fired his daughter and daughter-in-law from jobs with the union and cut ties with a financial institution that employed his son.
Hunter said in a statement, "Certain individuals made sure (his ouster) was preordained." Hunter's attorneys said he could sue if the players try to withhold the more than $10 million that remains on his contract.
Said Fisher: "We do not doubt that this process will possibly continue in an ugly way."
James responds to Jordan's choice
Asked recently if Kobe Bryant or LeBron James was the NBA's best player, Michael Jordan chose Bryant, citing his five titles to James' one. James fired back.
"I don't think rings always define someone's career," he said. "If that was the case then I'd take … (Bill) Russell over Jordan. But I wouldn't. Russell has 11 rings. Jordan has six. I'd take … (Robert) Horry over Kobe."
Robert Horry was part of seven title teams.
• Raptors rookie Terrence Ross won the dunk contest, earning 58 percent of the fan vote in the final against defending champ Jeremy Evans of the Jazz. The 6-foot-6 Ross honored the last Raptor to win the title by wearing a Vince Carter jersey. In the final, he jumped over a ball boy, whipped the ball between his legs and threw down a one-handed slam.
• The Cavs' Kyrie Irving won the 3-point contest. In the final against the Spurs' Matt Bonner, an ex-Gator, he made his first seven shots, two off the record shared by Craig Hodges and Jason Kapono.
• The Blazers' Damian Lillard beat the 76ers' Jrue Holiday in the final of the Skills Competition. The event involves navigating a dribbling circuit, taking a 3-pointer, hitting targets with passes and driving for a layup.
• The Heat's Chris Bosh, the WNBA's Swin Cash and Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins won the team shooting competition, beating Horry, the Thunder's Russell Westbrook and the WNBA's Maya Moore in the final.
Garnett staying: Celtics star forward Kevin Garnett said the team has not approached him about a trade despite a report it is shopping him in advance of Thursday's deadline. However, he said, it doesn't matter because he won't waive his no-trade clause.