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Do retired NBA players still get paid?

Every athlete, whether he or she might be in a top form for a long time, eventually approaches the end of a cycle when it is time to retire. NBA players are no exception. Even the ones who created history and left behind a huge legacy got to the point when they finished their careers. We had Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain. All of these players created something new but age is something none of us have control over. To further honor such players for their contributions to the NBA and basketball in general there is a pension plan.

Do retired NBA players still get paid? Actually, pensions do exist in the NBA and yes retired players are eligible for getting them. The plan was introduced in 1965 and since then has seen numerous modifications. Let’s explore the peculiarities of this system.

We take an in-depth look at how retired NBA players get paid and what support there is for retired NBA players.

How does the system work?

As we have mentioned above, NBA players have had a pension plan since 1965. Thanks to modern players like LeBron James and Chris Paul, this plan has gone through numerous changes and a lot of older players have got decent pensions. The pension ensures that all players get a good service. For players to receive a salary after retirement several criteria need to be met. First of all, it is necessary to play in the NBA for at least three years. In addition to pensions, players also get other benefits such as health insurance, college tuition, etc.

It should also be noted that after the changes in 2017 the pensions rose notably for the ones who are over 50. Now the NBA pays $800 per month per year of service which is an increase of almost 50 percent.

Dell Curry being over 50 would be eligible for a pension

In general, it is advisable for retired players to start receiving the pension as later as possible, approximately at the age of 60. The reason for this is pretty simple – the longer time means that the salary is increased and they will get the highest possible payments.

Salaries for retired players in the NBA compared to the NFL or NHL are significantly higher. A retired player who is 62 years old will get over $200,000 annually and keep in mind that the minimum amount is equal to $56,000.


We have mentioned earlier that in addition to pensions, players also get other benefits and college tuitions are one of them. If a retired player decides to engage in college activities it will be reimbursed up to $33,000 annually, which is indeed a good amount. There are plenty of players, who in order to pursue a career in the NBA decided to give up their studies. Actually, they have an opportunity to get back and continue studying. Several players decided to apply for this program and get the degree.

Health insurance

It was not always the case when NBA players get health insurance. Actually, some players died because they did not have enough money to take care of their health and needed surgeries. Moses Malone passed away at 60 because of health issues and he had no way to receive help from the NBA.

Earl Monroe is another example. He played in the NBA for more than 10 years and due to the inability that he did not have money for his surgeries, passed away a year after being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Such cases actually signaled the NBA to introduce new ways of helping older players.

Right now every player who served at least 3 years in the NBA gets lifelong health insurance and in some cases, spouses and children also get assistance from the league. However, players need to be in the league for more than 10 years.

When do players usually retire?

It is another interesting topic. Based on the physical performance and health, most players usually retire between 35-40. Vince Carter and Tim Ducan are examples of players who managed to remain in shape at a very old age. LeBron James, who is turning 37 in December, remains one of the best players in the league and shows no signs of slowing down. We also had an example of Michael Jordan who first retired relatively at a young age and returned. He was capable of performing wonders on the court and finally retired at 35, winning his sixth and final championship title.

Some players, who are prone to injuries are forced to retire early. Brandon Roy, who had the potential to become one of the greatest shooting guards in the NBA had problems with his body and was injured for the most part. Greg Oden – his teammate – also suffered.

We can also think of other factors such as discipline. Gilbert Arenas was a very controversial player even though he had a huge talent and great ability to win games single-handedly, but the lack of discipline prevailed and he failed to live up to the expectations.

Final words

The NBA is a league that tries its best to honor the retired players as much as possible. The efforts to modify the pension plan and introduce new regulations that will improve the current system, even more, is an excellent example of how the league should treat its legends. The NBA is way ahead of other sports in the United States with its approach and hopefully, other ones will also look up to this method.