Photo credit: Mark Terrill/AP Images

The NBA players union announced today that they would begin funding health insurance for retired players who have played at least three years in the league. The deal is the first of its kind in major American sports, which makes sense given that the NBPA is in a very healthy position, especially in comparison with the NFLPA or the MLBPA. NBPA president Chris Paul acknowledged the players’ strong position, saying:

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“The game has never before been more popular, and all the players in our league today recognize that we’re only in this position because of the hard work and dedication of the men who came before us.”

The union voted unanimously on the proposal, which provides generous terms, including whole-family coverage for ten-year veterans.

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Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time but who are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays;

Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs;

Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine-year players, and would include coverage for their entire family;

Basketball doesn’t have the risk factors of football or wrestling, but playing professional sports always takes a huge toll on the body. Bill Walton opened up a few years ago about how back pain drove him to contemplate suicide, so locking in good, comprehensive health care for ex-players is a righteous move.

[NBPA]