Women and the NBA: We Got Next
NBA players elected her the executive director of the National Basketball Player’s Association (NBPA) making her the first female union leader of the four major professional sports leagues in North America. While Roberts does not have a background in labor or sports, she does have an extensive background in negotiation meaning she has a great ability to both change people’s minds and listen to what people have to say. I think this will aide her well as union chief.
Based in Washington, D.C., Roberts, who will turn 58 in September, has worked at Skadden, Arps for the past three years. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 1977 and California-Berkeley’s law school in 1980. She was a public defender in Washington before joining the private sector and specializing in white-collar litigation. Roberts was once called the finest pure trial lawyer in the nation’s capital by Washingtonian magazine.
The NBPA has struggled since the 2011 lockout and resulting collective bargaining agreement. Former executive director Billy Hunter was fired during All-Star weekend in 2013 after it was discovered he mismanaged union business, and the union has been without a permanent director since even though Chris Paul was elected President of the Player’s Association over a year ago.
Getting on the same page with the players is first and foremost. That’s not an easy task with varying agendas from powerful agents.
She must also build and foster a relationship with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. It’s possible players and the league will need to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement after the 2016-17 season and the better the relationship between Roberts and Silver, the better chance at avoiding a prolonged work stoppage. Roberts said she would assemble a management team to run the union, perhaps even changing the union bylaws, before diving into negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Also, players and the league split basketball-related income 50-50, and that split is unlikely to deviate drastically. The best way to increase player salary is to increase BRI. While there is a collective-bargaining agreement to hammer out every six years, there is labor peace in between in which the two sides can collaborate and prosper.
A very high, very thick glass wall cracked. Becky Hammon, the 37-year-old native of South Dakota is the first full-time female coach in the NBA, and the first full-time female coach in any of the four major professional sports following basketball trail blazers such as Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, who coached the Dallas Mavericks’ D-League team in 2009, and Lisa Boyer, a volunteer assistant on John Lucas’ Cleveland Cavaliers’ staff in 2001-02.
Look, NBA players want coaches whom have knowledge of the game, and whom can help them improve their own. The sex of that coach is subordinate, and it’s clear Hammon knows the game and succeeded in spite of being 5’5″ and of moderate talent as a player.
Being cerebral allowed her to have a 16 year professional career so it makes sense that San Antonio, the reigning NBA champs, a franchise that has always marched very effectively to the beat of its own drum would be the team to break the mold. How they do things there is, simply put, better than how they do them anywhere else in the NBA. The Spurs are coming off their fifth championship of the Popovich-Tim Duncan era, and there honestly isn’t a better place in American sports for a trailblazer like Hammon to learn her trade. Additionally, Popovich, GM R.C. Buford, the rest of the staff and players have been familiar with Hammon for years as she had a “coaching internship” in 2013 after she tore her ACL playing for San Antonio WNBA affiliate.
Women and the NBA
The NBA has been the best when it comes to diversity for quite some time now. According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, The NBA received a B+ for gender hiring practices with a score of 85 percent. The overall grade was an A with 90.7 points. While the NBA is the still best for all three categories among the men’s professional sports, it did slip significantly in gender hiring practices as the NBA went from an A- with 89 points in 2012 to a B+ with 85 points in 2013. 41.1% of the employees are women, and the League Office also had 44 women serving as vice presidents in the 2012-2013 season. There were notable declines for women at the team level in senior and professional administrative roles with drops of 4.3 and 4 percent, respectively but there is no doubt women got next in the NBA.