LeBron James, the game’s best and most popular player, is mulling a bid for the union’s presidency.
“It’s something he has talked about with a small group of people,” a source with close ties to James told FOXSports.com on Wednesday. “He was very vocal at the meeting during the All-Star Weekend about the need for the union to dramatically change. There is a new executive director coming in and new commissioner. He recognizes that this is the time for the union to change.”
Derek Fisher’s term as president expired this summer. It’s unlikely that Fisher, who recently signed a new contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, would retain the presidency since he is facing a lawsuit from the union’s former executive director, Billy Hunter, and because Fisher is at the end of his career.
Jerry Stackhouse, an 18-year veteran and the union’s first vice president, has been the point man for union activities so far this offseason. The union could elect its new president as early as late August when it holds its summer meetings in Las Vegas.
The source close to James cautioned that he thinks it’s “unlikely” the Miami Heat superstar will decide to seek the presidency.
“LeBron doesn’t do anything halfway and he has serious concerns about whether he has the time he knows the job requires,” the source said. “The demands on LeBron’s time are already substantial. Whether it’s formally or informally, LeBron has strong opinions on the future of the union and will be very active in the rebuilding process.”
James’ potential presidency would provide a huge star-power dynamic that has been missing from the union since Patrick Ewing was president from 1997-2001. Since Ewing, the union has been led by role players — Michael Curry, Antonio Davis and Fisher — and compromised by concerns that its presidents haven’t hadve the necessary leverage and stature to deal with ownership on remotely equal footing.
James would be the first in-his-prime union president since Isiah Thomas ran the association while leading the Pistons to back-to-back championships at the close of the 1980s. Until the last decade, the players union had a rich tradition of being led by superstars such as Bob Cousy, Oscar Robertson, Bob Lanier and Thomas.
With James at the top of the union, it would likely be easier for the new executive director to get other superstar players to engage in union activity and in the process of working with the new commissioner (Adam Silver) on growth strategies for the league.