NBA Issues 1st Checks to Former ABA Players: 'So Much Bigger Than Many Expected'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 19, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 18: A detailed view of the NBA logo prior to the game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 18, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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The NBA issued its first round of checks to former American Basketball Association players this month.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed in July to pay former ABA players $24.5 million after years of advocacy by nonprofit foundation Dropping Dimes. As Dana Hunsinger Benbow of the Indianapolis Star noted at the time and in a new report Monday, the agreement "ended a years-long battle between the league and Dropping Dimes, who had argued that these ABA players blazed the trail for what the NBA game is todayβ€”fast-paced and flashy with three-point shots and slam dunk contests. And they deserved a pension for that."

The NBA deemed that 115 players who played three or more years in the ABA or combined in the ABA and NBA were eligible for "recognition payments," not pensions.

Scott Tartar, the co-founder and president of Dropping Dimes, described former players' reactions to the payments this month: "They were all literally sitting around going, 'What the hell?' These checks were so much bigger than many expected."

Tartar called the timing "a Christmas miracle."