By Ken Reed

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has named Michele Roberts its executive director. Roberts, called the finest pure trial lawyer in Washington DC by Washingtonian Magazine, is the first woman to lead a major North American sports league union.

She’s also known for having impeccable character, an important factor for the NBPA’s executive committee.

“Roberts won over the players with a strong background as a civil criminal litigator and an unblemished character,” wrote long-time NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski. “She’ll be replacing the deposed Billy Hunter, whose tenure was marked with labor negotiation failures, corruption, and ethical entanglements.”

In a sense, Roberts was hired because she appears to be the anti-Billy Hunter. Roberts will need to rally the players, get them on the same page, and prepare for negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement after the current one expires after the 2016-17 season.

Chris Paul was proud his union was open-minded during the process and willing to hire a woman.

“On behalf of our players, it shows how open minded our players are,” said Paul.

“With any of the candidates, it wasn’t about race, gender, anything, it was who is going to be the best person in that position. Like she said from Day 1 of interviews she tackled that question head first and she did it in front of our executive committee, the search committee and the same thing with our player audience.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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