Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported and the NBPA soon confirmed that after a lengthy and at-times contentious meeting of the union in Las Vegas, D.C. attorney Michele Roberts has been elected Executive Director, ending a year and a half absence of an E.D. for the union following the dismissal of Billy Hunter.
Michele Roberts has been elected executive director of the NBPA with 32 votes, league sources confirm.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 29, 2014
Michele Roberts met with applause as she is ushered into conference room with executive committee members at Las Vegas hotel.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 29, 2014
Roberts, who graduated with her J.D. from University-Cal Berkeley in 1980, has a distinguished history in litigation, according to her bio on her firm's website:
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. Ms. Roberts is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Ms. Roberts also served for eight years in the office of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where she was named Chief of the Trial Division. She served as counsel in more than 40 jury trials.
Prominent Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, Jr. commended Ms. Roberts' courtroom presence, stating “she becomes the 13th juror, capable of seeing the case as the jury sees it, and therefore able to revise strategy, as necessary, mid-trial to address the jury's concerns.” (The Legal Times, March 2011)
The move is interesting in that it selects a litigator to represent the union's interests. The NBPA needs a particularly strong voice considering the expected lockout looming in 2017 and after the disharmoney that accompanied the end of Billy Hunter's tenure. One particularly strong voice in the room reportedly backed Roberts.
NBPA president Chris Paul has a strong belief in Michele Roberts, league sources tell Yahoo. Along with exec. committee, she's his choice.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 29, 2014
Roberts becomes the first woman to lead a male pro sports league union in North America.
The vote comes after former player Jerry Stackhouse and a collection of agents pushed to postpone a vote after executive committee and team player representatives were given only the evening to review the candidates and decide on their next de facto leader.
Jerry Stackhouse says executive committee recommended that player reps elect D.C. attorney Michele Roberts executive director of the NBPA.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 29, 2014
Union director requires 2/3 vote of player reps and committee members to be elected. Stackhouse says some agents urging clients to abstain.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 29, 2014
Stackhouse called the election process "a joke" and "it reeks." Strong belief with one player rep is Michele Roberts will prevail.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 29, 2014
Lots of frustration about this process. With only team player reps allowed to vote, players who aren't reps who came feeling voice-less.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 29, 2014
Now all the union has to do is get its member organized, form a strategy against an overwhelmingly powerful owners' union, and reverse over 15 years of substantial losses in negotiations during the next three years while also managing whatever new crises arise. Then again, after working as a D.C. public defender, hard to see anything rattling Ms. Roberts.