NBA union chief: Owners are expendable, salary cap needs to go

Michele Roberts made history in July by being voted the first female union chief in major North American sports.


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NBA union executive director Michele Roberts believes the NBA owners are expendable, that players deserve more than a 50-50 split in basketball-related income and that the salary cap needs to be abolished.

"Why don’t we have the owners play half the games?" Roberts said in an interview with ESPN The Magazine. "There would be no money if not for the players.

"Let’s call it what it is. There. Would. Be. No. Money," Roberts said, adding emphasis after each word. "Thirty more owners can come in, and nothing will change. These guys go? The game will change. So let’s stop pretending."

Roberts, who made history in July by being voted the first female union chief in major North American sports, will represent the players at the bargaining table when the players can opt out of the collective bargaining agreement after the 2016-17 season. The NBA recently landed a nine-year, $24 billion deal that is set to begin in 2016.

"I don’t know of any space other than the world of sports where there’s this notion that we will artificially deflate what someone’s able to make, just because," she said, talking about the league’s salary cap, which limits a team’s ability to spend on players. "It’s incredibly un-American. My DNA is offended by it.

"I can’t understand why the [players’ association] would be interested in suppressing salaries at the top if we know that as salaries at the top have grown, so have salaries at the bottom," she said. "If that’s the case, I contend that there is no reason in the world why the union should embrace salary caps or any effort to place a barrier on the amount of money that marquee players can make."