NBAPA elects Michele Roberts as new executive director, now first woman to lead major sports union

By Leighton Schneider,

The NBA Players Association has elected Michele Roberts to become the new executive director of the union. She will become the first woman to lead a major sports union in America.

With player representatives and executive committee members voting, Roberts received 32 of 36 votes and beat out tech industry CEO Dean Garfield and Dallas Mavericks CEO Terdema Ussery, according to CBS Sports.

Roberts is a trial lawyer for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington DC. The firm has done outside work for the NBA in the past.

In an interview with reporters, Roberts said that she addressed the question that she was a woman when she was with executive committee members, but she said she'd like to think she is where she is today because of her track record.

“I’d like to believe, as I’ve believed for most of my career, that I’ve earned something because of who I am and what I do, not because I’m a woman.”

According to ESPN, the vote almost did not take place when several agents told their clients to try to delay the voting process so more people could be looked at.

Jerry Stackhouse, a former All-Star, told reporters that he strongly lobbied for another delay and that he thought the vote was being forced.

“The league revenue is probably $6-7 billion a year in this industry for the next six years,” he said. “That’s almost $40 billion. You just hire somebody to control the next five or six years for the players, $40 billion worth of money, in a four-hour presentation."

For the past 18 months, the NBPA has not had an executive director after Billy Hunter was ousted after he was accused of questionable business practices.

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