National Basketball Players Association

The National Basketball Players Association ( NBPA ) is a trade union for professional basketball players in the North American basketball league NBA. The NBPA was founded in 1954 and thus is considered the first professional sports players union in team sports. However, it was only in 1964 recognized by the team owners of the NBA as the official representative body of NBA players. Today, the NBPA is a sole trade union negotiators NBA bodies against their players. The union represents player interests, among others, in terms of the collective agreement the league, pensions or health insurance professional.

  • 5.1 salary cap in 1983
  • 5.2 Lockout 1995
  • 5.3 Lockout 1998
  • 5.4 Lockout 2011


The star player of the Boston Celtics, Bob Cousy, founded the NBPA 1954. His initial goals were premiums for public appearances or curbing the tiring city trips that were made at that time by bus across the country for friendly matches between professional teams. Cousy began his work by writing letters respected players of all teams and it asked for support for a players' union. Except for one all answered the addressees Cousy positive, which encouraged him, to the All -Star Game in 1955 with a list of complaints to Maurice Podoloff, the then Commissioner of the NBA, to approach. The NBA, however, only in 1957 began in earnest with the NBPA to negotiate demands and to allow some of them.

Turning point: All-Star Game in 1964

Plans for health care and a pension fund for players as well as many other measures that count for today's athlete trade unions to the basics of the work, the NBPA should pursue until the mid- 60s. The necessary recognition from the NBA brought an incident during the All- Star Game in Boston on January 14, 1964 to: Two hours before kick-off declared the All-Stars against the Commissioner of the NBA, Walter Kennedy that they would boycott the game should have been made ​​a valid agreement for a pension fund for players up to the kick-off. The ultimatum was preceded over low pay and excessive travel frustration. As the game from the ABC should be transmitted and the transmitter responsible Kennedy gave to understand that a potential television contract with the NBA would never come up with this Match canceled concluded, Kennedy agreed to 15 minutes before the start of the game to draw a pension plan with the team owners.

The incident in Boston was unique in U.S. professional sports of the time. Supposedly, the present All-Stars were not of one mind: therefore voted for a strike among other things Bill Russell, Lenny Wilkens and Tom Heinsohn, for example, while Wilt Chamberlain wanted to play anyway. For the final change of mood it should have come only after the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers sent a message to the locker room and its stars Elgin Baylor and Jerry West told to play with rude words.


The NBPA has as an area of their trade union work, this framework aims of:

  • Negotiating the terms of the overall collective bargaining agreement with the NBA, the so-called Collective Bargaining Agreement ( CBA),
  • Ensuring that the NBA and its teams to meet their obligations under the CBA,
  • Recognition, leadership and training of players' agents,
  • Services for the bank's Department of Player Services,
  • Monitoring and negotiating pension and insurance claims
  • Provision of security personnel in personal cases,
  • Support of charitable and community organizations,
  • Promoting the positive public perception of NBA players, on and off the field.



  • Lawrence Fleisher: 1970-1988
  • Charles Grantham: 1988-1995
  • Simon Gourdine: 1995-1996
  • Alex English: 1996
  • Billy Hunter: since 1996

Fleisher's successor Charles Grantham came back in 1995 with the declaration of his office, there were "irreconcilable " internal tensions within the union leadership. Under NBA players, this was received with surprise and bewilderment. Grantham's successor, however, was fired after less than a year term as so far the only CEO of the player representatives, namely unanimously. Background was the failure of collective bargaining in 1995 and criticism of Gourdines leadership style. Ex-star player Alex English took over in the wake interim basis the Board until the appointment of Billy Hunter.


Important events

Salary cap in 1983

The salary cap for players (English: salary cap ) was introduced as part of collective bargaining in 1983 and is considered a turning point in the development of the market for players in the NBA. The Salary Cap provisions guaranteed the players 53 percent of gross sales of the teams. The team owners agreed to the deal because it allowed them more or less accurate cost estimates and a spiral of increasingly higher salaries prevented. The player could be on one, because as well as less well-paying teams were forced to take money for their players in the hand.

Lockout in 1995

For the first time in the history of the NBA after July 1, 1995, all players were literally excluded from the team owners. The so-called lockout is thus no strike in the classical sense. In fact, NBPA and the NBA could not agree on the conditions of the then new collective bargaining agreement to be adopted, so that the negotiations failed and the players were excluded. The NBA season 1995/96 threatened to fail, until finally on September 12, a tentative agreement was reached and the new season could be started without loss of game. Before a proposed secretly compromise between the parties had failed intervention by a group of players, led by Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing.

Lockout in 1998

The player exclusion before the 1998/99 season was the first which had caused the games a season. Again no agreement on the tariff to be determined contract had been achieved. It was only in February 1999 could be opened per team with three months late fuselage season with only 50 games (instead of 82). The bone of contention was the requirement of the NBA, adjust the applicable collective agreement, because according to their data imports 13 teams in the league financial losses. The game union rejected this " poverty argument" with a reference to that time just completed and highly doped new television contracts back.

Lockout in 2011

On 1 July 2011, the last collective agreement concluded in 2005, the NBA expired without renewal, which led to a renewed exclusion of players by team owners. With reference to huge losses since the introduction of the Treaty of 2005, the NBA demanded in their original demand for a reduction in player salaries totaling 750 million U.S. dollars per season. In the meantime, this requirement was reduced, was, according to players' union, among other points, but still far away from a possible compromise. Before had to be canceled for the NBA season 2011/2012 in the fall of 2011 the first parts of the game board. An offer of negotiations of the NBA from November 10, 2011 provided for a delayed start to the season on 15 December 2011, and presented a game plan with 72 games per team. The NBPA struck on 14 November 2011 this offer officially out, threatened to antitrust action against the NBA, and gave the public a possible dissolution of the union known. On 26 November 2011, the NBA and the players union gave, however, known to have negotiated a tentative agreement compromise that would lead to a shortened NBA season 2011/2012 with 66 game days.