The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) is the union for current professional basketball players in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Established in 1954, the NBPA mission is to ensure that the rights of NBA players are protected and that every conceivable measure is taken to assist players in maximizing their opportunities and achieving their goals, both on and off the court.

Whether it is negotiating a collective bargaining agreement, prosecuting a grievance on a player’s behalf or counseling a player on benefits and educational opportunities, the NBPA advocates on behalf of the best interest of all NBA players.

Before the union’s inception, NBA players did not receive the wide-ranging privileges and protections that exist today. There was no pension plan, no per diem, no minimum wage, no health benefits and the average player salary was $8,000. It was not until 1964, when the NBA All-Star team threatened not to play in the first televised All-Star Game, that the players gained their first victory.

As a result of the resolve of the union’s early leaders, including NBA Hall of Famers Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn and Oscar Robertson, the owners finally recognized the NBPA as the exclusive, certified labor union representation of all NBA players. Since then, there have been dramatic changes, and the NBPA continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing challenges facing NBA players.

NBPA union members enjoy expansive benefits and are among the most recognizable athletes and entertainers in the world.

In addition, the NBPA provides a forum for players to participate in union activities in a number of facets. From executive leadership roles, to team representative positions, global community outreach initiatives and more, the NBPA offers each NBA player the opportunity to get involved in the democratic institution that was created for, continues to exist for and is run by them.

Years Active
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Countries Represented


Scroll through this timeline to learn more about the evolution of the NBPA. Click the info button to learn more about each image.

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