G League players officially form union with help from NBPA

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As has been expected for a while, and with 80% of the players voting for it, the G League players have voted to form a union.

It’s called the Basketball Players Union (BPU), and the NBA G League agreed to recognize it as the players’ representative.

“We are extremely pleased that our brothers in the G League elected to form their own union,” said Anthony Tolliver, Secretary-Treasurer of the NBPA’s Executive Committee. “The many NBA players with prior experience in the G League can personally attest to the value an organized union brings to players’ careers. We would like to especially thank Andre Ingram and John Holland who gave so much of their personal time to the organizing process.”

“I could not be more excited or impressed with this decision by the G League players,” said Michele Roberts, Executive Director of the NBPA. “Like their brothers in the NBPA, these players work tirelessly to perfect their craft and will now have a voice in decisions relating to their working conditions, benefits and more.”

Not everyone in the G League would be part of the new union, players with an NBA contract down on assignment or two-way players — covered by the NBA players union — would not be part. However, members of the new G League select team, the players skipping college and getting paid to learn in the G-League, will be members of the union.

Of course, money will be the biggest issue on the table. Most players in the G League earn $35,000 a season (this does not include players tied to an NBA team on a two-way contract or a handful of elite high school players skipping college). Some players make extra cash through an Exhibit 10 contract with a team — meaning they go to training camp with a team, then get a bonus ($50,000 or so) if they sign with that team’s G League team — but expect players to seek an increase in base pay. How that plays out in an NBA economy hit hard by the coronavirus remains to be seen.

Other issues would include freedom of player movement, work benefits, and giving the players a voice in other matters like discipline issues.