Michele Roberts avoided both a lockout and a reduction of the players' share of Basketball Related Income in her first collective bargaining agreement negotiations as NBPA Executive Director.
Roberts approached the NBA to discuss all aspects of the CBA from the start and not just the split of BRI.
"I had to do an autopsy of the prior CBAs to understand, historically, what went on," said Roberts. "And I did have the benefit of some staff that had been there. Having said that, I did not want to repeat the same wars. We actually approached the CBA in a way that was different from prior negotiations. Based on my conversations with people and a review of the affidavits, it was pretty clear that the negotiations typically began by talking about BRI -- the split. And needless to say, that went on indefinitely and indefinitely, and clearly they did not come to any consensus, and we were locked out. We decided that rather than only walk, we would walk and chew gum. We knew all the issues we wanted to discuss. We invited the league to do the same.
"And we put everything on the table and we began to talk about everything. So rather than have everybody in the room for every issue, we had subcommittees. And the committees were working simultaneous. So while we were having discussions about BRI, we were also having discussions about work conditions. We were also having discussions about wearables. We were also having discussions about length of season. All that stuff could happen at the same time, and we were finding consensus. And when you start realizing that you really can agree, when you get to the really tough stuff, it’s a lot easier to find that you can probably agree there, too."