Michele Roberts Rumors
The HBO Sports feature is anchored by a number of interviews with athletes who detail the profound impact of the sports world’s pause on their lives. This lineup includes the NBA’s Donovan Mitchell, Danilo Gallinari, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, commissioner Adam Silver and players association executive director Michele Roberts.
Speaking at a SporticoLive event on Tuesday, Roberts said that while players share in the passion for the game, and in the responsibility of growing the NBA’s multi-billion-dollar enterprise, “what we don’t share is having an equity stake in the teams.” “We’ve got a collective bargaining agreement that says we can’t [own stakes], and hopefully down the road we’ll make some changes,” she said. “The players will be the last to suggest that we want to see the game’s value, or teams’ values, in any way diminish, but it sure would be nice to be able to go to the party.”
The league is also making changes to make it easier to attract minority investors. Last year it greenlit Dyal Homecourt to raise money for a fund that could invest in multiple teams. Now it’s discussing an expansion of that program, where other institutional investors could gain the same right. “If [private equity investment] happens,” Roberts said, “I will have players complain bitterly that, ‘Wow, we helped create this wealth, we helped create this value, and some private equity guy can come in and I can’t?’”
One suggestion: Instead of giving equity to players themselves, give it to the union. That wouldn’t necessarily result in checks to individual athletes, but it would give the NBPA more resources to support players and their communities. Another suggestion: a structure similar to employee stock options, which are common in other some businesses. “There’s a way, in other words, for players to enjoy equity in these teams that may be non-traditional,” Roberts said. “It may be a little different from the way we do it on the private side, but I still think there’s an opportunity for us to talk about, think about and ultimately resolve what I believe to be an inequity in the system.”
Michele Roberts knows calls are coming about the COVID-19 vaccines, calls about the NBA players she represents, calls from those very players and even calls about herself, a 64-year-old Black woman who could very well have the option to take the vaccine.
Even if the questions are the same, the answers may not be. The National Basketball Players Association executive director has been doing her own research on the viability of the vaccines, weighing whether she will take it. But whether she takes it doesn’t give a definitive indication on what her recommendation to the players will be — a reasonable complication of a very layered, complex and downright scary situation.