In the midst of all the craziness from the NBA’s summer news, one could easily have missed one of the most significant events to happen in sports in quite some time.
We’re thrilled the players selected Michele Roberts as #NBPA Executive Director! Congrats to our players & exec comm for a historic choice.
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) July 29, 2014
The NBPA appointed a new executive director after the position had been open for more than a year! Oh yeah, and the new leader of the NBPA is an African-American woman. Roberts’ appointment marks the first time that a woman has been chosen as the head of an American professional sports union. Although this is groundbreaking news, gender was the last concern the NBPA had considering how poorly Billy Hunter, the former executive director, handled his responsibilities. Hunter was fired by the NBPA last February among allegations of nepotism, fraud, and collusion that led to a criminal investigation and a web of lawsuits that went nowhere. A new voice was needed.
Roberts’ track record as a litigator exudes everything the NBPA sorely lacked during the end of Hunter’s tenure: strong ethics, a respect for the best wishes of her clients (in this case, the NBA players), and no previous tether to the movers and shakers of the NBA landscape. This was a merit-based hire for a job that had over 300 candidates. In the final vote for the position between Roberts and two other candidates, Roberts received 32 out of 36 possible votes from the player representatives. The landslide vote showcases that the players strongly believe that Roberts is the right person for the job.
The current CBA runs through the 2020-21 season, but the owners and players are granted an opportunity to opt out after the 2016-17 season. Skyrocketing franchise values, revenue sharing heavily skewed in favor of the owners, and a proposal for a new age-limit restriction are just some of the factors that will drive the players to opt out of the current CBA. Michele Roberts will become a household name at that time, but her impact will be felt well before we reach that date. She did not impress the player reps by sitting on her hands while waiting for the next catastrophe to take place as her predecessor was known to do, mark my words.