In late July 2014, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) elected Michele Roberts their new Executive Director in Las Vegas, obtaining 32 of 36 votes, making her the first woman to lead a major North American sports union. Roberts a career litigator with an extensive background in trial and labor law appears to be a perfect choice.
Her election makes Roberts the sole female representing the financial interests of hundreds of athletes, many being African American men and women. Note: Roberts represents WNBA players as well.
It’s very apparent by electing a trial lawyer that the NBPA is preparing for another round of fighting with the NBA. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) allows either side to opt-out of the current agreement after the 2016-17 season.
Given the dissatisfaction, most players have with the current CBA deal, especially with how free agency is currently handled and the new nine-year, $24 billion media rights deal the NBA inked with ESPN and Turner Sports in October 2014, the NBA and NBPA are headed towards another massive fight in 2017.
According to Tom Barrabi of the International Business Times, the current CBA was negotiated to fix a financial system that league owners insisted was a losing model. To minimize the owners losses, the players agreed to reduce their share of the league’s BRI (Basketball Related Income) from 57 percent to 50 percent – 51 percent if the NBA’s financial fortunes improved.
Also according to Barrabi, the $24 billion TV deal, coupled with the recent sale of the Los Angeles Clippers for more than $2 billion, suggests to players that team owners are capable of sharing a more substantial chunk of the league’s profits.
Although this new TV deal will not take effect until the 2016-17 season, negotiations for a new CBA means that NBA owners can’t cry broke like they did during the 2011 lockout because of the abundance of new revenue that will be flowing in from this deal.
Since Adam Silver became Commissioner of the NBA, increasing the league’s required age limit from 19 to 20 has certainly been his top objective! Many are under the impression that the NBA can amend this rule, but only the NBA players and their union can do so.
Keep in mind that Michele Roberts and the NBPA favors no age restrictions at all, but from a historical perspective, the association has sold out the younger players in favor of concessions for the current players. So more than likely that will once again have to be the case for the NBA to see an increase in the age limit. This alone gives the NBPA and Executive Director, Michele Roberts a favorable hand in negotiations.
So to all that wish to see any NBA age limit increase, it has to go through a young woman from the South Bronx, by the name of Michele Roberts. Whether the age limit is increased or not, she will certainly be negotiating from the position of power.