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Sportress of Blogitude

NBPA’s Michele Roberts questions ‘double standard’ about player power

The NBA has undergone a seismic shift in recent years where the power possessed by players has dramatically increased, which has of course compromised the influence and control previously wielded by individual organizations.

While there understandably differing perspectives when it comes to the changing power dynamic in favor of the league’s players, Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, unsurprisingly favors the shift while bemoaning the “double standard” in play amid the debate.

Speaking to The Undefeated Marc J. Spears for a wide-ranging and extensive interview, Roberts opened up about what she perceives as a “double standard” when it comes to the player-power issue.

“There’s just a perception that owners have rights and players don’t,” Roberts said. “I mean it’s unfortunate that we tend to, on some levels, continue to view players as property as opposed to people. And so, you allow for a certain flexibility as you exercise your property rights that somehow appear to be more compelling than a player’s individual freedom.

“And I can’t figure it out except that there is still this perception that you are property, the team is property and I can manage my property any way I want. If you think that property rights are significant, then they must think you have to believe that individual liberty is significant, but not as significant? So, in my view, more significant. I don’t know why, and it could be because there’s some issues involving race and class and a number of things, but I don’t know that I know why it is. I just know that it is.”

The notion that players now hold too much power and in doing so have upset the organizational integrity of the NBA stems in part from how Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis both forced their way off teams in recent seasons despite being under contract.

There are unsurprisingly both critics and defenders of how the league’s power dynamic has shifted in favor of the players. The fact that Roberts continues to fiercely advocate for the players makes sense, and the same can be said with how the NBA is monitoring how the change is impacting the league.