NBA Agrees To Pay Former ABA Players ‘Life Changing’ $25 Million

The payout will help former American Basketball Association players who are struggling financially.

Many former American Basketball Association (ABA) players have struggled financially since retiring from the league, often finding it hard to make ends meet. The ABA was a men’s professional basketball league that ran from 1967-1976. Since the league merged with the NBA in 1976,  the NBA’s board of governors has now voted to pay $24.5 million to those former players helping them to offset the costs of rent, medical bills, and other daily necessities.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the battle between the Indianapolis-based non-profit, Dropping Dimes Foundation and the NBA and its players association has gone on for years. After the board cast their votes on Tuesday (July 12), it was decided that the money will be a 50/50 split between the NBA and the players association.

RELATED: Kevin Durant Requests Trade From Brooklyn Nets

Founded in 2014, the Dropping Dimes Foundation was formed to help struggling former ABA players and their families. They have been pleading with the NBA to give the ABA players the money they say they deserve.

The NBA is calling the payout “recognition payments” in which roughly 115 players are eligible. The qualifications: players must have “spent three or more years in the ABA or played at least three combined years in both ABA and NBA, having never received a vested pension from the NBA.”

“It’s an incredible day for former ABA players," said Scott Tarter, CEO and founder of Dropping Dimes, "one that we and the players have been hoping for and working so hard toward for many years."

The initial asking of Dropping Dimes from the NBA was to cover all 140 living former ABA players and pay $400 a month for every year of play.

Instead, the NBA approved an estimated $957 a month (instead of the $1200 ask) for those athletes who  played three-seasons or more. For Freddie Lewis, who played in the ABA for nine seasons, it’s a game changer to receive  $35,452 a year.

Guard Freddie Lewis #1 of the Spirits of St. Louis drives to the basket against the New York Nets during an American Basketball Association (ABA) game at the Nassau Coliseum circa 1975 in Uniondale, New York
Guard Freddie Lewis #1 of the Spirits of St. Louis circa 1975.

Tarter, says the amount is not enough for some and he expects many players to return to Dropping Dimes for additional assistance.

RELATED: Lakers Hope Give Coaching Staff Extra Boost With Hire of Former NBA Star Rasheed Wallace

"In some ways, we feel these aging ABA players, who broke so many barriers in the 1960s and 70s, deserve even more recognition," said Tarter. "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 2021, the also reported that 80% of former ABA players who struggle financially are Black. Many are now in their late 60s, 70s and 80s, with some experiencing homelessness, and medical issues including an inability to afford new dentures.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking subscribe, I agree to receive newsletters, marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers), and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. For more information about our data practices, consult our Privacy Policy.