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March 6, 2015 Updates
March 3, 2015 Updates

The quote from the ESPNW article drew swift criticism. What was your intent when you said it? Michele Roberts: We were having a discussion about Kevin Durant and his whole thing, his dismay, and I began -- I am confident -- by saying I know, as he later said, he was not having a great moment at the time. But no one suggested, and I don't even think he was suggesting, that there not be access, or that the players should not be made available to answer questions to the media because, frankly, I'm less concerned about reporters being able to get questions answered, but this is for the fans. Those are the questions, presumably, that the fans want to have posed. And in my view the purpose of media in this country, both generally and within the context of sports, the rest of us need to have someone available to ask the questions of politicians, of athletes, of movie stars that we can't otherwise ask. I know I said that, made that quite clear, because I've been an advocate of the First Amendment since I could speak. SB Nation

Michele Roberts: But then I began to notice that there was a small group of reporters, and I now think that they're probably more bloggers than anything else, that would never ask questions. And they would typically walk into a locker room and they would just sort of be standing there, even at the point when media availability ended, I would never see them ask a question. Now, I know that there the marquees are sometimes not in the room and I get that there are sometimes people waiting for the so-called marquee players to come. But I wasn't referring to that. I was referring to those guys who frankly are just there appearing to be listening, but not asking questions. SB Nation

I can't speak to the specific situation that you were in, but I do feel like I need to advocate for the younger media members and bloggers. A lot of times they're told to observe, especially when they're not used to being in a locker room or a scrum situation. I've seen situations where a young blogger or intern is just trying to get their lay of the land. Michele Roberts: The people that are in my mind right now are not young. I'm there, and I'm old enough to see people. And I'm seeing these guys -- and I'm talking about New York locker rooms typically because that's where I am most of the time except when I travel -- but the guys that are coming to my mind now are not young. They may not be as old as I am, but they're not young. SB Nation

Roberts may have been a massively successful attorney and litigator. She clearly beat out many well qualified candidates to win the job. The players I have spoken to about her believe she is the right person to help right many of the wrongs the players feel they have endured. However, if you’re handicapping the fight at home based on the information that’s on the table, the depths of how unprepared the players may be, by way of the knowledge of their leader, might end up being massively underestimated. Basketball Insiders

February 27, 2015 Updates

A spokesman for Michele Roberts says the executive director of the NBA Players Association looks forward to further discussing her comments about reporters in the locker room with members of the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The writers' union released a statement Thursday saying it welcomed the opportunity to meet with Roberts to talk about the issues she raised in an espnW.com column, when she said she often sees reporters just standing around or trying to listen in on her conversations with players, calling it an "incredible invasion of privacy." USA Today Sports

February 25, 2015 Updates

Although Durant would later say he just "had a moment," his words raised some questions about media availability and the commitment players have made, especially in the locker room before and after games. "Most of the time I go to the locker room, the players are there and there are like eight or nine reporters just standing there, just staring at them," Roberts said. "And I think to myself, 'OK, so this is media availability?' If you don't have a f---ing question, leave, because it's an incredible invasion of privacy. It's a tremendous commitment that we've made to the media -- are there ways we can tone it down? Of course. It's very dangerous to suggest any limitation on media's access to players, but let's be real about some of this stuff. "I've asked about a couple of these guys, 'Does he ask you a question?' 'Nah, he just stands there.' And when I go in there to talk to the guys, I see them trying to listen to my conversation, and I don't think that's the point of media availability. If nothing else, I would like to have a rule imposed, 'If you have a question, ask it; if you don't, leave.' Sometimes, they're waiting for the marquee players. I get that, but there is so much standing around." ESPN.com

What about the length of the season -- is 82 games too many? "The schedule is ridiculous. Now I know that decreasing the number of games decreases potential revenue, but if, at the end of the day, players are too tired or too injured to play, how does that affect the game?" (Bass said the NBA has no plans to shorten the season and that it has responded to wear-and-tear issues by lengthening the All-Star break and has made it a priority to dramatically reduce back-to-back games, as well as four games in five nights.) ESPN.com

February 23, 2015 Updates

"I'm my own guy," he said. "I understand how important the business of basketball is. The National Basketball Association is the National Business Association. I understand that. For me, I want to make sure that I'm protected, and the players are protected, and the league. You know, both sides want to continue to build this beautiful league that we have. The All-Star Game was (televised) in more than 200 countries in the world, and we want to continue that. We want to continue the drive what we have. Hopefully both sides can come to an agreement that fits both sides." NBA.com

It's not likely that owners would go after the max-salaried guys. But the game's stars have long been frustrated by what they believe is an artificial limitation placed on what they can earn, especially compared to players in baseball that make tens of millions more. That will be one of the issues about which James has to get up to speed. "It takes about a year," Jones said. "You really have to go to the summer meetings to get a full grasp of what the union is about, and then have some time to look at the CBA, look at the issues, look at the areas for improvement and look beyond those things. Because as we see with this new CBA, every deadline, every two months something unfolds that is an unintended consequence of this deal being struck." NBA.com

February 18, 2015 Updates

Following the 2010-11 season, owners were able to negotiate a CBA that was more in their favor, cutting the players' share of basketball-related income from 57 percent to roughly 50, costing them millions in annual salaries. That contract runs through 2021, but with the economic boost — $2.6 billion per year — coming from the TV contract, players will fight harder for a larger portion of the pie. "We want to negotiate a little better than we did last time," said Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver. "We're going to be well-equipped to stand toe-to-toe with the NBA and negotiate a fair deal. That's what we want — just a fair deal." USA Today Sports

Silver is concerned with keeping the game relevant amid stiff competition from other sports. It's vital to stay affordable and attractive to an aging population as well as the next generation of hoop fans. It's entertainment, after all, and Silver wants to keep the NBA in the center of the spotlight. "I realize we have to earn the fans' support every day," he told The AP. "Over the course of my business career I've seen a lot of great businesses seemingly disappear. We don't take anything for granted and we realize that especially when it comes to the changing world of television that we have to focus on what's happening on tablets and smartphones and how young people are consuming media." USA Today Sports

February 15, 2015 Updates

The Roberts-Silver relationship has, of course, just gotten underway — Roberts was only hired over the summer, and Silver took over for Stern a year ago. They’ll keep talking about some mechanism that can reduce the shock to the NBA’s system as the new money comes in, but it’s difficult to see a compromise there. “I haven’t had a chance to negotiate with the unions directly since they had that meeting (Friday) night,” Silver said. “My sense is there will be additional discussions, but ultimately that is what our system is under the current collective bargaining agreement. It’s like a lot of things in business and in sports, you deal with the situation as it is presented to you. I don’t want to act like it is a terrible problem to have — we’re thrilled that based on the interest in the NBA, we are able to command these big increases in the television market.” Sporting News

What if the Knicks suddenly had the opportunity to sign up two max-contract players? Or if the Lakers could sign three? Or if the already-stocked Bulls could add another All-Star? Where does that leave, say, Milwaukee or Minnesota or New Orleans? “It’s what our system is,” Silver said on Saturday. “The players receive, on a sliding scale, it ranges from 49 to 51 percent, and because of the revenue targets we hit, the players will receive 51 percent of the new television money. At the time we were negotiating the deal, we were not projecting that our television increases would be as large as they are. … (Smoothing) is something we presented to the union, ultimately it is up to them to decide what is in the interest of the players association. I have a feeling there will be additional discussions.” Sporting News

February 14, 2015 Updates

The key meeting took place late last year in Cleveland. Roberts met with James, introduced him to her growing executive staff and explained her vision of the union. Also in the meeting were some of James' closest NBA friends: James Jones, a NBPA executive committee member who played with James in Miami and now is his teammate in Cleveland, and Roger Mason Jr., who was an executive committee member and is deputy executive director of player relations for the NBPA. Roberts left that meeting with the understanding that James is a union person, not just in the sense of the NBPA but for unions in general. James has a comfort level with Roberts and a long friendship with NBPA president Chris Paul, who urged James to take a prominent role with union. That will be important after James was elected first vice president of the NBPA in New York on Friday. USA Today Sports

How important is James' presence on the union's executive committee? One player told USA TODAY Sports that James is the most influential players voice since Michael Jordan, and now that prominent voice will have a seat at the union's table. The player requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about union matters. "It means a lot. 'Bron is the face of our league. He's opinion matters," Paul said. "Obviously me and him talk all day every day. It's just an opportunity for other people to see how he feels about things." USA Today Sports

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