MICHELE ROBERTS, ESQ.
National Basketball Players Association
MICHELE ROBERTS, ESQ. is the first woman to hold the position as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association and the first woman to head a major professional sports union in North America.
Two weeks prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the big red stop sign placed on professional basketball, Roberts began planning her retirement, announced a search for her successor, and had just closed on her Harlem brownstone.
Under her tenure that began in 2014, player salaries had soared and the NBA was locked into its collective bargaining agreement through the 2023-24 season and its media rights deal through 2024-25. Roberts saw it as the perfect moment to make sure the union was in the right hands so she could be free from the professional responsibilities for the first time in her adult life. But the pandemic pulled her back in as the NBPA faced a critical turning point with basketball stopped just five days after she announced the transition plan.
Hearing the sentiments of Black Lives Matter, Roberts and Chris Paul, the NBPA’s president, were able to reach an agreement with the NBA on a 10-year, $300 million foundation to support the Black community that will be financed by the 30 teams.