The NBA and National Basketball Players Association announced a jointly funded recognition payment plan on Tuesday for 115 former ABA players who played at least three seasons in the league and didn't previously qualify for the pension plan given to NBA players.
The players who qualified will receive yearly payments of $3,828 per year of ABA service.
"Our players have a genuine sense of appreciation for those who paved the way and helped us achieve the success we enjoy today," said 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."
"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," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver added. "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."
The agreement ended a yearslong fight between the NBA and the nonprofit Dropping Dimes, which had been fighting on behalf of former ABA players to receive such payments.
"In some ways, we feel these aging ABA players, who broke so many barriers in the 1960s and 70s, deserve even more recognition," Dropping Dimes CEO and founder Scott Tarter told Dana Hunsinger Benbow of the Indianapolis Star. "But I can't overstate how much it means to them to have the NBA and NBPA recognize their tremendous contributions to today's NBA game."
In Feb. 2021, Hunsinger Benbow reported that 80 percent of the former ABA players Dropping Dimes was trying to help were Black. Many of those players were left without jobs or pensions after the ABA disbanded in 1976 and only four of its teams—the Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, New York Nets and San Antonio Spurs—were absorbed by the NBA.