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The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) made history this week by announcing the election of Michele Roberts as its head. Roberts has become the first female head of a North American pro sports union.
Roberts has been a partner at the prestigious Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom law firm. She has had much success as a trial lawyer and has been noted for her ability to connect with the jury, reports SB Nation.
Her adeptness at persuasion will serve her well as the head of the NBPA. The upcoming few years will be key in terms of labor relations between the players and the owners.
The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which could not get resolved without cutting into the 2010-11 season, gives the players 50 percent of the league’s Basketball Related Income (BRI). In the previous deal, the players’ share was worth 57 percent.
Both the players and the owners can opt out of the current CBA after the 2016-2017 season. It seems likely that the players will choose to do so given their smaller share of the BRI and the league’s overall increase in revenue.
The selection of Roberts comes after the NBPA went without a permanent leader for the last 18 months. The last NBPA head (Billy Hunter) was fired because of his ineptness at representing the players well, according to Forbes.
“It shows how open-minded our players are,” said Chris Paul, the NBPA president and the starting point guard of the Los Angeles Clippers. “With any of the candidates, it wasn’t about race or gender. It was about who was going to be the best person in that position.”