NBA union chief: "I have 450 kids"

Michele Roberts is only five-foot-five, but she got to where she is by standing tall.

Roberts runs the union representing over 400 NBA players. She's been the union chief since 2014, replacing Bill Hunter, who was ousted after players questioned his leadership. The 59-year-old looks out for the players' interests when dealing with the NBA, negotiating with the league's owners on everything from salary caps, to benefits, to players' share of the profits.

In going for the job, Roberts knew she had to make an impression, reports CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan.

"'My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.' Yeah, I said that," Roberts recalled. "It's true."

That one quote made quite a statement. James Jones - a 13-year veteran and the secretary treasurer of the players association - said he knew, "without a doubt," exactly why he wanted Roberts for the job.

"I mean, that sent a chill down my spine," Jones said. "You know, she was direct, she was straight. And she told us, 'If you sleep on me, I will bury you.' And that was refreshing for us."

While some people claw their way to the top, Roberts stomped her way there. She grew up in the projects in a South Bronx neighborhood.

"We didn't have a bunch of heroes when I was growing up," Roberts said. "You know, at the risk of sounding arrogant... I knew I was going to get out of this neighborhood."

With little money, her mother - who raised five children alone - would take Roberts to the Bronx Supreme Court to watch trials for entertainment.

"This is where I manifested this foolish thought that I might be a lawyer," Robert said.

After graduating from University of California Berkeley Law School, she became a fierce attorney in Washington D.C., where she says being a woman had an unexpected advantage.

"Someone who doesn't know you and doesn't take women seriously will look at you as their opponent and breathe a sigh of relief that you are not a man," Roberts said. "Initially, that kind of response to me would make me furious - it didn't take long before it amused me, because I knew they weren't working as hard, they weren't staying up as late, because they assumed that they could deliver their B game. I always delivered my A game."

It's NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who now needs to bring his A game. The team owners and the union have begun discussing the next collective bargaining agreement, which covers everything from revenues to rules. There are discussions about increased compensation for the players.

"There are increased revenues, so obviously, we're having discussions about increased compensation," said Roberts, who says the owners are richer than the players. Roberts, who has no children of her own, has come to embrace the players not just as children, but as an extended family.

"These guys, may change teams, they may change agents, they may even change wives and girlfriends. But the one constant as long as they are players is the Players Association," Roberts said. "My obligation and my feeling of obligation to them is genuine. I have 450 kids."

The current collective bargaining agreement could expire as early as next year if either side chooses to opt out, which is why talks are starting now.

Roberts has galvanized star players like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, which potentially adds more power to a union she is hoping to turn around.