Michele Roberts On Union, Salaries, Age Limit

New NBPA head Michele Roberts seems to be making the media rounds after stepping into the role vacated by Billy Hunter. She recently sat down with Tim Bontemps of the New York Post to discuss several topical issues that she is sure to address in her tenure as the executive director of the NBPA. There is a little overlap with her conversation last week with Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops, but the entire story is still worth a read. Here are some of the key quotes from Roberts:

On the status of the union:

“But I think what is equally important, for me, is to repair what has been a foundation that has been subjected to some injury by, unfortunately, my predecessor. What we don’t have, and what we will have, is a management structure that is both able to interact with our counterparties with the league and elsewhere, but a structure that allows the players to do unequivocally what they want to do, and that’s run their own union…. They didn’t hire me, and they were not interested in hiring, someone to run things for them, to simply let them know what’s going on.”

On having a max salary rule:

“I’ve had conversations with guys who have said, ‘Look, when I go to play in New York, I’m not selling out the Garden. I can get on the subway and no one knows who I am. But when LeBron goes to the Garden, he’s selling it out, and he can’t get on the subway because he’ll be mobbed’ … so there’s an appreciation of what we all realize is true. The LeBrons of the world, the Durants of the world, the Kobes of the world, they make a ton of money for this league and empower everybody. So I don’t hear players complaining about max salaries or getting rid of max salaries. Because, frankly, everyone gets it.

On the NBA minimum age:

“It sounds trite, but you can go to war and you can’t make a living. If I had my way, you could work at 14, and whenever someone is prepared to hire you. If people say, ‘They’re not yet members of the union, why should we care?’ Michele cares that anybody that’s able to work can. The notion that the union shouldn’t be concerned about people who will one day become members of the union, that’s nonsense. We may not legally be able to do anything about that, but to not care about people we know are going to become members of our union, of course we care about them, and we should consider any policy that’s going to impact our future members. Michele needs a better argument with respect to why that policy needs to be increased from 19 to 20, but I’ll find out from my bosses what they think, and I’ll let you know.”

On the 2017 labor talks:

“The only way that happens is when people have not been engaged in the process going forward. In other instances [I’ve been in] where there have been multiple stakeholders who have had interest in the outcome but internally and there has been a dissension in the ranks, it’s always been when people are lied to or had a complete misunderstanding of what the goals were.

“I can’t say what happened in 2011 because I wasn’t there, but I was told there was internal dissension, and I can imagine there was a communications breakdown. There’s no sort of magic bullet you can have, but you can certainly minimize the possibility of that happening.

“But if you get people engaged and involved in the discussion as early as possible, and if you have a common agenda and everyone knows this is what we’ve agreed we’re going to do and try to accomplish, it would minimize — I think dramatically — the possibility of people fighting internally. It could happen, but it will not happen because I don’t get people I needed to be in the room in the room, and so we’re going to start getting people in the room right now.”

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