The 2016-17 NBA season will be the first year of the league’s massive new television deal, under which ESPN and TNT will pay $2.7 billion annually to broadcast games. Half of that money goes to the players, and they’re reportedly considering using a small fraction of it to fund health insurance for retired NBA players. Via Adrian Wojnarowski:
The plan is estimated to cost between $10 million-$15 million a year and a vote on passage of the union’s initiative is set for the NBPA’s July 20 membership meeting in Las Vegas. The union’s 30 team player representatives are expected to pass the plan with ease and start the process of covering the retired players quickly, league sources said.
The NBPA has been researching the names and addresses of the approximate 1,500 living ex-players and hoping to offer three separate health-care options to them, sources said.
This seems to be a really decent thing to do. Under the current CBA, players without a contract cease to receive league-sponsored health insurance on August 31st following the last season of their contract. And while players like the recently retired Steve Nash—who earned nearly $150 million in his career—can afford their own health insurance, as Wojnarowski notes there are scores of living players from the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s who weren’t paid very much money.
Read a bit more cynically, this plan is a brilliant bit of maneuvering in advance of a possible strike or lockout in 2017. For less than 2% of the increase in money the players are set to receive due to the new television contract, they are buying a massive amount of goodwill among the former players who coach teams, run teams, and comment on basketball matters. It is also likely to make the players seem more sympathetic to the public, paying out of their own pockets to help destitute former players when they have no obligation to do so.