Bigger Than Basketball: Union Members, NBPA Foundation Making an Impact

Bigger Than Basketball: Union Members, NBPA Foundation Making an Impact

Basketball may be on hold, but that hasn’t kept our union members from stepping up and making an impact. While the NBA suspension has left players and fans longing for the game to return, the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has proven this matter is much bigger than basketball. 

Across the globe, the coronavirus continues to have profound effects on all areas of society: hospitals overwhelmed, businesses & schools struggling, and unemployment numbers rising, to name a few. The tragedies, both big and small, have been difficult for many. 

Luckily, those who are able, have stepped up to offer their support—namely, our union members. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve seen the goodwill of our players shining bright. 

Players across the league have donated their time and money to provide relief efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New Orleans Pelican, JJ Reddick, helped provide over 1.8M meals to those in need with his food distribution efforts in New Orleans, LA. Dennis Smith, Jr. of the New York Knicks provided meals for medical suppliers and emergency room employees in Fayetteville, NC. He also helped provide technology equipment for K-12 students in Cumberland County, NC. 

Internationally, Bogdan Bogdanović of the Sacramento Kings provided personal protective equipment to medical professionals in Serbia while Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs and Nicolò Mell of the New Orleans Pelicans, both supported a local hospital (AUSL Reggio Emilia Bologna) in Reggio Emilia, Italy during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

(For more spotlights of our players who are doing their part to support those affected by COVID-19 check out our other blog article here).

Needless to say, the generosity of our players has supported many far and wide. But what do all of these acts of good will have in common? The amplification of the NBPA Foundation

The NBPA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the players' union, provides strategic funding and support while also communicating the players' endeavors to accelerate and maximize the impact. 

The mission is simple - to grow a player's impact, with a global reach.

Since its inception, the Foundation has provided millions of dollars in financial support to more than 300 organizations worldwide in 20 countries.. 

How do they do this? 

When a player gets fined in the NBA, half of the money goes to NBA Cares community partners, and half goes to the NBPA Foundation. Over a year, the NBPA Foundation's half of player fines can total up to a few million dollars! All those fights, rants, and criticizing officials add up, but luckily the funds go to good use. 

With that money, the Foundation can offer player matching grants of up to $25,000 a year. So, if a player donates $25,000 to an organization, the NBPA Foundation can match that donation with an additional $25,000, doubling the impact, and giving the recipient $50,000 total.

 "Since we started making matching grants, I think we've gotten up to 475 individual matching grants over the last five years. That number is going to skyrocket in the next three months," said Sherrie Deans, Executive Director of the NBPA Foundation (Forbes)

 Skyrocket, it did. During March and April, the Foundation has totaled over half a million dollars in player matching grants. While combined, during the coronavirus pandemic alone, Union Members and the NBPA Foundation have donated nearly $5.5 million to nonprofits in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. 

 During this time of need, the Foundation is in the process of streamlining the donation process so that organizations can receive money faster. "We're seeing an influx of players calling in trying to figure out what is the right thing for them to do in light of how widespread the impact of COVID-19 is going to be," Deans said (Forbes)

In response, the Foundation created an online resource to guide players on their giving strategies called Big Hearts, Big Impact. The platform allows players to explore different charitable areas they can support, such as social safety nets, finances, education, and health. 

 "They're all just being so thoughtful," said Deans. "They're starting to move into education now and providing technology for kids whose academic experience has been interrupted. And I just also approved a grant to support veterans. It's so broad. I wish I could point to one thing, but I'm so glad I can't. They're pretty much doing everything." (Forbes)

 With so much uncertainty in sight, there's no telling when things will return to "normal" or how long-lasting the coronavirus's effects will be. 

 However, through the combined charitable efforts of Union Members and the NBPA Foundation, their generosity has shown that it's not just about basketball. These challenging times have shown it's about coming together, building community, and making an impact -- it's bigger than basketball. 


For more information about the NBPA foundation, visit