The NBA's New Union Leader Is a Total Badass

Meet lawyer Michele A. Roberts, who is the newly appointed executive director of the NBA Players Association, which makes her the first woman to head a union for a major North American professional sports organization. She means business.

A new profile of Roberts in the New York Times makes her sound like someone you definitely do not want to cross. For one, she does not shy away from criticizing her predecessors:

"It was clearly run by Hunter without much input from other people," she said during a long interview at her office in Washington. "It's completely inconsistent with the way any entity, let alone any union, should be run."

She's held strong opinions for a long time. Here's her describing what she learned as one of the only black students in her high school class:

"It was actually some of the best training for my professional life," Roberts said. "Once I realized that being different does not mean being inferior — I scoff at that nonsense if I see it."

That experience also seems to have prompted her incredibly well-chosen high school yearbook quote:

In her senior yearbook, she quoted Malcolm X and Nikki Giovanni: "Joy is finding a pregnant roach and squashing it."

On her time as a public defender for men on death row at San Quentin:

"All they wanted was to be able to have sex with their girlfriends," Roberts said. "You'd do a hearing with them, and they'd be crying like you'd gotten them their freedom."

This about sums it Michele Roberts up:

"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."

Screenshot via The Washington Business Journal/YouTube