After nearly 18 months without a permanent executive director, the National Basketball Players Association finally filled the vacancy on Monday with Michele Roberts, a Washington, D.C. trial lawyer.
The position, left open by ousted Billy Hunter, makes Roberts the first woman to lead a major sports union in North America, notes ESPN.
"Even though she's a female, she's very relatable to a lot of our players," Chris Paul, of the Los Angeles Clippers, said. "I think that's what really hit home for not only myself but some of these other guys as well."
Roberts' confirmation was neither swift nor without vocal detractors. One of two original finalists in February, she had to go through a second round of applications and interviews after players and agents called for the search to be broadened. Some questioned Roberts' lack of knowledge about the NBA's inner workings. Ultimately, said Clippers player rep Jared Dudley, the union made its decision because players can opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement in just two years (after the 2016-17 season).
"Lebron [James], signing his two-year deal, set the tone," Dudley said. "We know that the league is making money. They can't hide behind that now."