Skip to content

NBA Players union elects first female executive director in Michele Roberts

Jul 29, 2014, 1:32 AM EST

Derek Fisher

Much like any legislation that comes out of Washington D.C., how this came to be was far from pretty.

Michele Roberts, a powerful Washington D.C. litigator, has been elected as the next executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), better known as the players union, according to multiple reports. She is the first woman to hold the position and replaces Billy Hunter, who was forced out 17 months ago amid charges of nepotism and other concerns.

Roberts works for the firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. She is not someone with NBA ties but that seemed to appeal to the players who voted (she got 32 of the 34 votes, which included 28 team representatives). One of the other finalists was Mavericks CEO Terdima Ussery, but the union moved away from someone already connected to the league. She also has a spotless reputation.

What do we know about Roberts? Not much. Here is what her law firm’s bio page says about her:

Michele Roberts is a renowned trial lawyer and a member of the firm’s Litigation Group. Her practice focuses on complex civil and white collar criminal litigation before state and federal courts and in administrative proceedings. Ms. Roberts has tried more than 100 cases to jury verdicts, representing clients in a wide variety of areas, including products liability, white collar, racketeering, securities regulation violations, Title VII issues and premises liability. She has been called the finest pure trial lawyer in Washington, D.C. by Washingtonian Magazine.

She does have experience in labor law, which is key for the union.

Her election ended a wild week for the union.

First, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who had led the search committee to find a new executive director, stepped aside before the vote. Then on Monday, a number of player agents who felt cut out of the process had a conference call to complain and pressured their clients to try and delay any vote. Then at the meeting, former player and union rep Jerry Stackhouse showed up and tried to get the players to hold off and look at other candidates.

The day was full of the disruptions that have plagued the union for years. There is an inherent difference in opinions around the unions because what is best for the star players is often not best for the “middle class” or the guys making the league minimum. Throw in agents trying to game the system to help their clients (and therefore their pocket books) and you have a frightening amount of in-fighting. In the end, the union representatives voted for the executive committee (led by union president Chris Paul) backed.

That in-fighting is what Roberts walks into and has to clean up. She needs to get a unified front before the players head into the 2017 negotiations with the NBA on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (either side can opt out that year and it is expected one or both sides will). That is when things get serious.

Latest Posts
  1. Michael Jordan’s message to Kobe Bryant: “Go get Karl”

    Dec 26, 2014, 4:29 PM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    At 25 points a game it would still take Kobe 182 games to catch Malone. That’s not likely.

  2. Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks: “The fans are dying, we’re dying”

    Dec 26, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    Washington Wizards v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Knicks fans are going to need to be patient, something New Yorkers have long been know for. *cough*

  3. Spencer Hawes Christmas Day suit was…. well, you should just see it (VIDEO)

    Dec 26, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

    Spencer Hawes AP

    Well, you don’t see that every day. Fortunately.

  4. Clippers win ‘nice, boring’ Christmas Day battle with Warriors

    Dec 26, 2014, 2:56 AM EST

    Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers AP

    The flagrant fouls and ejections we’ve come to expect from these teams were non-existent, as L.A. came away with a “signature win” over the league-leading Warriors.

  5. Pau Gasol shines in his first matchup with the Lakers

    Dec 25, 2014, 11:48 PM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    The Bulls blew out the Lakers on Christmas.

  6. Miami fans give LeBron warm welcome, Heat team not so much in upset win

    Dec 25, 2014, 11:31 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade, LeBron James Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

    Wade was brilliant… for a half, anyway. But that was enough.

  7. Kobe Bryant sits out Lakers’ Christmas Day matchup with Bulls

    Dec 25, 2014, 9:24 PM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls

    Bryant misses his second straight game simply due to a need for rest.

  8. Russell Westbrook inspires Thunder to skid-stopping win over Spurs

    Dec 25, 2014, 6:46 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    With Kevin Durant out, Westbrook puts Oklahoma City on his back, elevates Steven Adams and helps produce 114-106 victory

  9. From Gregg Popovich down, Spurs relying on patience

    Dec 25, 2014, 6:10 PM EST

    San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Scott Brooks: Kevin Durant ‘could not go if he wanted to go’

  10. John Wall looks like All-Star, Knicks look like the Knicks, Wizards cruise to win

    Dec 25, 2014, 4:15 PM EST

    John Wall, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert AP

    Washington was never threatened after the first quarter.

Featured video

Who will land Josh Smith?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (9536)
  2. K. Bryant (7386)
  3. K. Martin (7289)
  4. K. Leonard (7017)
  5. C. Bosh (6727)
  1. D. Williams (6653)
  2. T. Jones (6445)
  3. J. Smith (6385)
  4. T. Parker (6378)
  5. Z. Randolph (6230)