There are various roles in the NBA that are essential for the NBA experience, some small and some big. One of the more classic roles, but interesting nonetheless, is the role of the NBA ball boy.
How much does an NBA ball boy make? NBA ball boys don’t make a lot of money; they are usually paid minimum wage, and some even choose to volunteer for the position. They may be compensated in other ways such as free tickets to games for family and friends, small allowances and/or bonuses, and sometimes players give tips to ball boys. Ball boys are usually high school-aged, but sometimes older individuals are also employed as ball boys. They are tasked with various errands and responsibilities, such as mopping sweat during games, handing towels to players, and the most common job, rebounding for players during warmups and shootarounds.
What do NBA ball boys do?
They’re called ball boys because their primary responsibility is to rebound the ball for players and coaches during warmups and shootarounds, but NBA ball boys (also referred to as team attendants) have a lot of different responsibilities. In essence, they are charged with various different tasks, that are split into three phases: pre-game, during the game, and post-game (ball boys work home games, and help out both the home and visiting teams). They work closely with the equipment managers and the training staff each game and in practices if applicable.
Before the game, the ball boys arrive about 3 hours or so before tip-off. They set up the locker room, then when the team bus arrives, they unload the team’s luggage. Once the players are in the locker room, ball boys are usually running errands for the players, which is usually grabbing food for them. If not attending to the players, the ballboys help out the athletic trainers, for example, helping in making ice packs for players. During shootaround, ball boys rebound the ball for the players.
During the game, ball boys stick around on the sidelines. They give players their uniforms, pick up their warmups when they check in to the game, and always have a towel and a cup of water ready for the players. Some ball boys are also responsible for mopping sweat off the floor during the game. After the game, the ball boys help in collecting all the uniforms, shoes, and other equipment. They are also responsible for tidying up the locker room and the showers (not cleaning, but picking up after the players essentially).
Why do NBA ball boys work for little to no pay?
Being an NBA ball boy is not a very lucrative position based on the paychecks: most ball boys make minimum wage, and some work for no money at all. Only the most senior ball boys make a better wage, but even then it’s still a respectively low-paying line of work. The reason why most ball boys choose to become ball boys is so that they can be closer to the players, the team, and the game that they love.
Most ball boys are huge fans of their team, and for them, it is a dream come true to get close to the action on a regular basis. This sentiment is huge for the younger ball boys, but the older ball boys who do stick around are some of the most passionate fans out there. Even the work they do is considered unglamorous, but its all overshadowed by the fact that they are a part of the organization they love.
Besides, ball boys aren’t really going home with empty pockets. Running errands for players is a sure way for ball boys to get tips, and with the type of money that NBA players make, those tips are pretty big and are great money for young guys. Ball boys usually get compensation also, such as some tickets for the game, free parking, and food compensation. All in all, the ball boys who stick around would probably do the job even if it came without the perks; just being around the players is already enough for most of them.
How do you become an NBA ball boy?
In many cases, becoming a ball boy is about who you know. Being related to a staff member or knowing another ball boy gets you a pretty good chance of joining the crew. Teams aren’t really looking to spend time on hiring ball boys, there aren’t any real requirements or qualifications. and there are tons of people out there who would love to sign up, so landing a job as an NBA ball boy most of the time comes down to luck and knowing the right person.
Sometimes teams do open up applications to become a ball boy to the general public, usually geared towards younger high school kids. In that case, one common requirement is that students need to be doing well in school, with at least a C grade average, and better grades are a bonus. Sometimes applicants need to write a letter as well stating why they would like to become a ball boy.
Ball boys usually are on the younger side, ranging from high school to college kids. Availability is key, because working one game takes up quite a few hours on top of the game time. Ball boys need to be hard-working, responsible, perceptive, and despite working for their favorite team, need to be unbiased. Doing the “dirty work” and running errands require patience and a certain level of grit and ability to get things done. Basically, becoming a ball boy doesn’t require much, but being a good ball boy requires a lot of effort and determination.
For ball boys, the love of the game trumps the money. To many it may seem weird that someone would want to pick up dirty clothes and run errands for little to no pay, but passion runs deep in these ball boys, and they are a key part in making the game tick behind the scenes.