How did Michele Roberts convince NBA players to elect her as executive director of the players' union? According to this weekend's New York Times profile, she directly addressed the huge, gendered elephant in the room:
"I bet you can tell I'm a woman," she said, "and I suspect the rest of the world can, too."
She said she was all too aware that if she was selected, she would represent several hundred male athletes in the N.B.A.; she would deal with league officials and agents who were nearly all men; she would negotiate with team owners who were almost all men; and she would stand before reporters who were predominantly men.
She did not flinch. "My past," she told the room, "is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on."
Those are strong words, ones that no doubt went a long way toward earning her 94 percent of votes cast.
It's quite the task for Roberts, the 57-year old former trial lawyer and partner who came out of nowhere to lead the NBPA, to win back some power for the reeling union that is considered one of the weakest in pro sports. Winning back the trust of the players, following the malaise and scandal under Billy Hunter, would be a great start.