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Michele Roberts: NBA agreed to work with union before attempt to ‘prove its toughness’ with Jeff Taylor suspension

Michele Roberts, the Executive Director of National Basketball Players Association

Michele Roberts, the Executive Director of National Basketball Players Association

The Washington Post/Getty Images

The NBA suspended Hornets forward Jeff Taylor 24 games following him pleading guilty to domestic violence.

Despite the National Basketball Players Association’s readiness to appeal, Taylor accepted the punishment.

The union’s executive director further explains how we reached this point.

Michele Roberts, in a memo to players obtained by Sam Amick of USA Today:

“Despite having agreed to join the Players Association in focusing attention on ‘prevention’ rather than trying to out-muscle the NFL on ‘discipline,’ the NBA elected to prove its toughness by imposing a 24-game suspension on Jeff Taylor,” Roberts wrote in the memo. “Up until yesterday’s announcement, we had been working with the League to undergo a sober review of our current policies and practices to improve the services available to the NBA family in this area. However, I am disappointed that, as reflected in the sanction imposed against Jeff, the League instead chose to bend to the pressure it feels from the current media spotlight and impose punishment well beyond what is contained in the current CBA or in line with existing precedent.”

Taylor’s suspension is far longer than precedent dictates. But the union, in previous Collective Bargaining Agreements negotiations, has given the commissioner broad power to suspend players – regardless of precedent. In the aftermath of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, it’s no surprise Silver is wielding that power now. He’s taking full advantage of the opportunity to make the NBA look superior to the NFL.

Though Roberts was ready to file an appeal on behalf of Taylor, her best fight will come in 2017, when the NBPA and NBA will likely negotiate a new CBA. Then, she can try to re-write the rules that allow Silver to suspend players so freely.

Most importantly, the league and players can’t let this disagreement undermine what they were doing before the suspension – trying to prevent domestic violence. Those efforts shouldn’t take a backseat to the squabbling, and even if the union feels betrayed, it should still work with the NBA to implement the programs Roberts wrote about.