08/28/2014 09:51 am ET

Michele Roberts, N.B.A. Union's New Leader, Confronts Gender Barriers

Dwight Eschliman via Getty Images

Last month, inside a grand ballroom at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Michele A. Roberts stood before 117 N.B.A. players — towering international celebrities with millions in their bank accounts — and declared that she should be their leader.

Roberts confidently ran through her credentials — law school at the University of California, Berkeley; a sparkling trial career; partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, one of Washington’s most prestigious law firms — and then addressed the many problems facing the players union that she hoped to lead as executive director.

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