National Basketball Players Association

The National Basketball Players Association (the NBPA) is a labor union that represents basketball players in the National Basketball Association (NBA). It was founded in 1954, making it the oldest trade union of the four major North American professional sports leagues. However, the NBPA did not get recognition by the NBA team owners until ten years later. Its offices are located in the historic Park and Tilford Building in New York City.[1] It was briefly a trade association after dissolving as a union during the 2011 NBA lockout.

Full nameNational Basketball Players Association
Key people
Office locationNew York City
CountryUnited States


Bob Cousy of the Boston Celtics began to organize the union in 1954 alongside friend and unofficial agent Joe Sharry.[2]

Salary cap

In 1983, players and owners reach a historic agreement, that introduced the "salary cap" era into professional sports. This was believed to be the first salary cap in any major professional sports league in the United States.

1995 NBA labor dispute

The NBA experienced its first work stoppage, when owners imposed a lockout, that lasted from July 1 through September 12, when players and owners reached an agreement. Because the lockout took place during the off-season, no games were lost.

1998–99 lockout

The second NBA lockout, which ran into the 1998–99 season, lasted almost 200 days, and wiped out 464 regular-season games. After players and owners reached an agreement, the season did not start until February 5, 1999, with each of the 29 NBA teams playing a 50-game schedule.

2011 lockout

The current collective bargaining agreement was reached in July 2005, and expired at 12:01 EST on July 1, 2011, following completion of the 2010–11 NBA season, resulting in a lockout, similar to the 2011 NFL lockout. ESPN has reported that the owners and players failed to reach an agreement and broke off negotiations, and that the owners began a lockout immediately after the collective bargaining agreement expired.[3]

On November 14, the NBPA was converted from a union into a trade association, enabling the players as individual employees to be represented by lawyers in a class action antitrust lawsuit against the league, calling the lockout an illegal group boycott.[4][5][6] The NBPA re-formed as a union on December 1, receiving support from over 300 players, exceeding the requirement for at least 260.[7]


In February 2013, Billy Hunter was ousted unanimously as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) amid charges of nepotism and other concerns.[8] 17 months later on July 29, 2014, Michele Roberts, a Washington, D.C. litigator, was elected as the new executive director of the National Basketball Players Association. She became the first female executive director of NBPA and the first woman to head a major professional sports union in North America.[9] She would help avoid an opt-out labor dispute from occurring in 2017 with negotiations taking place early in 2016.

In February 2018 at All-Star Weekend, the NBPA unveiled its new marketing and licensing arm, THINK450, the innovation engine of the NBPA.[10] The union controls the intellectual property rights of the 450 players as a group off the court, giving way for brand partnerships and sponsorship opportunities.


Executive directors


First Vice President

Vice Presidents



The NBPA organizes Sportscaster U., an annual broadcasting training camp at Syracuse University in association with the Newhouse School of Public Communications.[18] In past ten years, hundreds of NBA players have attended this camp, and went on to successful careers in broadcasting.[19]



  1. Cindy Hamilton (July 2008). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Park and Tilford Building". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  2. Bradley, Robert. "Labor Pains Nothing New to the NBA". Retrieved February 26, 2011.
  3. Sheridan, Chris (June 30, 2011). "NBA says it will lock out players". ESPN. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  4. Newcomb, Tim (November 15, 2011). "NBA Players Look to Disband Union: Will There Be a Season At All?". TIME. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011.
  5. Beck, Howard (November 15, 2011). "N.B.A. Season in Peril as Players Reject Offer". The New York Times. p. A1. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011.
  6. Hunter, G. William; Fisher, Derek; The NBPA Executive Committee. "NBPA disclaimer". ESPN Internet Ventures. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 15, 2011.
  7. "NBA players authorize return of union". ESPN Internet Ventures. Associated Press. December 1, 2011. Archived from the original on December 1, 2011.
  8. Billy Hunter unanimously voted out
  9. NBA Players Union NBPA elects Michele Roberts as executive director
  10. Beer, Jeff (February 16, 2018). "NBA Players Union Unveils New Marketing Rights Group Think450". Fast Company. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  12. "Chris Paul elected NBPA president".
  13. "Chris Paul re-elected as president of the NBPA".
  14. release, Official. "Knicks' Anthony elected to NBPA's Executive Committee".
  15. "Leadership". National Basketball Players Association. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  16. "NBPA Sportscaster U. In 10th Year At Syracuse". Cuse. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  17. "On Court to On Air: How NBA Players Become Broadcasters at Sportscaster U., Now in Its 10th Year - National Basketball Players Association". National Basketball Players Association. June 2, 2017. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
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