Ashley also told CBS that the NBPA constitution and bylaws did not support placing Hunter on leavea topic CBS has covered before, specifically citing a passage from Exhibit 7 of the Paul Weiss report stating that there is no specific procedure for removing the head of the union.
Hunter had been scheduled to meet with players during the NBA's annual All-Star Weekend, which is to take place in Houston from February 1517. That otherwise celebratory event could now serve as the venue for Hunter's official removal.
In its statement announcing Hunter's leave of absence, the NBPA also said that it would retain outside counsel in "moving the NBPA forward through All-Star Weekend 2013."
Talia Bargil, an NBPA spokeswoman, did not respond to a request for comment about which firm, if any, the union has hired. Nor did interim union boss Klempner, who Labor Department filings show was paid $244,831 for his services in the period between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. (By comparison, Hunter made nearly $3.2 million during that period; Inaba received $174,500; Robyn Hunter earned $97,928; and the estate of Gary Hall was paid $18,942.)
A profile of Klempner on LinkedIn shows that he was an associate at Weil from 1988 to 1993 before going in-house at the NBPA. Also at Weil during that period: longtime NBPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler, who left Weil in 2003 to head the sports litigation practice at Dewey Ballantine, which merged four years later with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.
When the ill-fated Dewey & LeBoeuf merger collapsed spectacularly in 2012, Kessler took a 60-lawyer team to Winston & Strawn, where he currently serves as head of the firm's antitrust practice and coheads its sports law group. A call to Kesslerpictured here with Hunter in happier timeswas not returned by the time of this story. The Am Law Daily reported in 2011 that Dewey had received $1.1 million from the NBPA between 2005 and 2010.
The NBPA's most recent Labor Department filings show that the union paid Dewey more than $1.3 million in the 12 months prior to June 30, 2012. Steptoe, which employs Hunter's other daughter Alexis Hunter as special counsel, was paid nearly $1.4 million during that period. (Boies, Schiller & Flexner, which the union brought in during the final stages of a labor dispute with league owners in 2011, received $221,167.)
CBS reported Monday that multiple NBA agents want Donald Fehran attorney and former leader of the Major League Baseball Players Association who last month helped guide the National Hockey League Players' Association to a new collective bargaining agreementto be named the new head of the NBPA.
If Fehr were to take the NBPA reins, history would in some ways be repeating itself. Before the NHLPA installed him in its top post in December 2010, the union first had to settle with its previous executive director.
The NHLPA fired Paul Kelly in August 2009less than two years after hiring the former federal prosecutor and founding partner of Boston's Kelly, Libby & Hoopes to lead the union. Five months later, the NHLPA agreed to pay Kelly $1.5 million in compensation and $200,000 in attorneys' fees to settle a dispute over his dismissal, according to our previous reports. (Jackson Lewis hired Kelly last year.)
It remains to be seen whether or not the NBPA will need to reach a similar settlement with Hunter, 70, who was hired by the union in 1996. The Am Law Daily reported last year on the passing of Simon Gourdine, a well-regarded attorney and civil servant who headed the union for a short time before Hunter.