Adweek named Michele A. Roberts ’77, executive director—and first female leader—of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), to its “30 Most Powerful Women in Sports” list, which features outstanding executives, athletes and journalists, among others.
Previously an attorney with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Roberts began her career as a public defender in Washington, D.C. In the June 26 article, Adweek’s Tim Baysinger noted that Roberts would be negotiating across the table from league commissioner Adam Silver when the two worked on a new collective bargaining agreement—and Roberts would be trying to avoid a lockout, something her two predecessors were not able to do. A government major at Wesleyan, Roberts earned her JD from the University of California at Berkeley.
The negotiations now completed, Roberts noted, “The deal we worked out with the league contained a number of favorable provisions for our players, including a 45 percent across the board salary increase for those players whose salaries are pre-set. And, no lockout!”
In 2015, Roberts spoke at Wesleyan’s Dwight L. Greene Symposium about her role with the players union and her deep commitment to the men she was representing: “Maybe it is okay for a professional athlete to be as politically apathetic as anyone else; they have the right not to care,” Roberts said. “But when I saw my guys wearing those ‘I can’t breathe’ t-shirts, I could not have been more proud.… We will defend to the death the right of our players to comment on political issues as they see fit as long as they don’t violate any laws.”