Union Head: NBA Players Want to Be Equity Partners in League

NBAPA executive director Michele Roberts said that option will be addressed during the next round of labor negotiations

LeBron James drives on Stephen Curry
LeBron James drives on Stephen Curry at Staples Center.
Harry How/Getty

Appearing at SporticoLive event earlier this week, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said that the players she represents want to be equity partners in the NBA and will probably pursue that option during the next round of labor negotiations.

“We’ve got a collective bargaining agreement that says we can’t [own stakes], and hopefully down the road we’ll make some changes,” she said. “The players will be the last to suggest that we want to see the game’s value, or teams’ values, in any way diminish, but it sure would be nice to be able to go to the party.”

The current labor agreement, which was signed in 2016, runs through the 2023-24 season.

A possible way to allow players equity would be to give them the opportunity to secure what would amount to stock options in their teams, the same option some businesses give to employees.

“There’s a way, in other words, for players to enjoy equity in these teams that may be non-traditional,” Roberts said. “It may be a little different from the way we do it on the private side, but I still think there’s an opportunity for us to talk about, think about and ultimately resolve what I believe to be an inequity in the system.”

If the players do end up securing equity in the league, it’ll be lucrative.

According to a recent valuation of all 30 NBA franchises by Sportico, the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers are all worth more than $5 billion, and the average NBA franchise is valued at nearly $2.4 billion.

There may soon be another franchise on the way as NBA commissioner Adam Silver indicated last month when he said “it’s sort of the manifest destiny of the league that you expand at some point.”

Where will the NBA expand to? Possibly somewhere it has been before.

“I hear from fans of the old Sonics fans in Seattle all the time and so there’s no doubt when we do turn back to expansion… one day, that Seattle will be at the top of the list,” Silver told Jalen Rose on his Renaissance Man podcast.

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