The National Basketball Players Association promoted its senior counsel for collective bargaining, Ronald Klempner, to general counsel ahead of the next round of contract talks.
Klempner succeeds top lawyer Clarence Nesbitt Jr., who will immediately take over as chief legal officer and corporate secretary of Think450, the Washington-based union’s for-profit licensing and business development arm.
A former associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Klempner has worked for the union since 1993. Nesbitt, who started his career at Shearman & Sterling, spent almost a decade at Nike Inc. before joining Think450 and the players association.
The union’s labor deal with the NBA is set to expire after the league’s 2023-24 season, although both sides have the option of terminating the agreement early on Dec. 15 of this year.
Neither lawyer responded to requests for comment about their new roles. The union announced Klempner and Nesbitt’s new roles in a statement late Wednesday.
Nesbitt and Klempner earned roughly $558,500 and $468,200, respectively, during the 2020-21 fiscal year, Bloomberg Law reported in December, citing the union’s most recent financial statement.
Klempner previously served as interim legal chief for the union following the 2011 death of former general counsel Gary Hall. In 2013, he became acting executive director following the ouster of former leader Billy Hunter.
During his five years at Weil, Klempner was part of a sports law practice that included Bruce Meyer, a former partner at that law firm who last month helped the union representing Major League Baseball players resolve a labor impasse, smoothing the way for Opening Day.
Nesbitt left Nike in 2017 to join Think450 as general counsel. The union tapped him the following year to take over its top legal role from W. Gary Kohlman, a former Bredhoff & Kaiser partner who retired in 2018 after four years as general counsel.
Think450, where Nesbitt will now return, has been looking for a top lawyer since former legal chief Joi Garner left in October to join the New York Racing Association Inc. Garner was paid nearly $495,600 by the union in 2020-21, per public records.
Garner’s move, which saw her become the thoroughbred racing organization’s new general counsel, was brokered by legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa.
The union recently ushered in a new leader in attorney and accountant Tamika Tremaglio, who spoke last week with Bloomberg News about legalized sports betting and other business issues affecting professional basketball players.
Tremaglio was hired to succeed executive director Michele Roberts, a former litigation partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom who retired from the union at year’s end.
Roberts was announced in March as a board member for Vaunt Inc., a sports entertainment and development company whose co-founder and CEO is Roger Mason Jr., a former NBA player who was once the union’s deputy executive director.
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