NBA, NBAPA to Pay Roughly $25 Million to Former ABA Players Through New Program

by Nick Geddes

The NBA announced Tuesday that it will reward former ABA players roughly $25 million in compensation.

The NBA and NBAPA jointly-funded program will pay ABA players who never qualified for the NBA players’ pension plan. Per the Indianapolis Star, the league will pay $24.5 million in total to the players. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the following in a statement.

“Both our current players and team governors felt a need to act on behalf of these former ABA players who are aging and, in many cases, facing difficult economic circumstances,” Silver said. “These pioneers made meaningful contributions to help grow the game of professional basketball and we all believe it’s appropriate to provide financial recognition to this group for their impact.

“Under the program, recognition payments to these ABA players will approximate an annual payment of $3,828 per year of service. For example, a player with five years of ABA service will receive $19,140 annually from the NBA/NBPA program.”

The ABA was founded in 1967 before merging with the NBA in 1976. The NBA picked up four ABA teams — the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, New York Nets and Indiana Pacers. The Pacers were one of two teams to play all nine seasons without relocating, changing team names, or folding. The other was the Kentucky Colonels.

How Many Former ABA Players will Receive Money from the NBA, NBAPA?

Approximately 115 former ABA players will be eligible to receive compensation from the program. Players who played at least three seasons and did not qualify for a benefit from the pension plan are eligible. Those players will earn $3,228 annually for each year they played.

“Our players have a genuine sense of appreciation for those who paved the way and helped us achieve the success we enjoy today,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in a statement. “We have always considered the ABA players a part of our brotherhood and we are proud to finally recognize them with this benefit.”

This new agreement ends a long battle started by the Dropping Dimes Foundation. The non-profit organization launched in 2014 in an effort to assist former ABA players.