The Washington Post

NBA players make Michele Roberts first woman to head major sports union

D.C. Attorney Michele Roberts was the choice of NBPA president Chris Paul. (Associated Press)
D.C. Attorney Michele Roberts was the choice of NBPA president Chris Paul. (Associated Press)

The National Basketball Players Association, the union for NBA players, was seen as a rudderless ship even before previous executive director Billy Hunter stepped down early 2013. So it is an association that has been crying out for a strong leader, and it hopes it got just that in its newest choice: Michele Roberts.

Roberts, at the very least, was an historic choice, as she becomes the first woman to head a major sports union. She comes to the NBPA from the premier law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher and Flom, where she was a top litigator. A 2011 article in Washingtonian magazine referred to her as a “renowned trial lawyer” who “is known for dazzling juries.”

According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Roberts was the choice of NBPA president, and Clippers point guard, Chris Paul, who rounded up the votes amid a somewhat contentious meeting of union executive committee members and player representatives from NBA teams.

Several player agents were said to be unhappy with all of the three candidates up for the vote Monday night in Las Vegas, and they pushed for a postponement of the decision. Also, Jerry Stackhouse, despite having no official role, turned up and made some noise.

Roberts has no previous connection to the NBA, but that may have worked in her favor. Many players felt that the league’s collective bargaining agreement that emerged in the wake of the lockout in 2011 was overly favorable to owners.

It may not have been the smoothest meeting, but it produced a noteworthy result. And it capped a satisfying day for Paul, who not only got his choice to lead the union, but earlier saw Clippers owner Donald Sterling, whom Paul had described as “unacceptable,” lose his court battle to stop his wife from selling the team.

Des writes for the Early Lead and the D.C. Sports Bog, scouring the Web to bring readers items of interest, both serious and amusing. He also covers fantasy football, as well as fitness topics for the MisFits.



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