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The NBA announced a new program that will provide nearly $25 million in funds to support former American Basketball Association players who are now struggling to pay rent and other bills.
Around 115 former ABA players will benefit from the program, which is jointly funded by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, according to a statement released Tuesday.
"Both our current players and team governors felt a need to act on behalf of these former ABA players who are aging and, in many cases, facing difficult economic circumstances," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in the release.
"These pioneers made meaningful contributions to help grow the game of professional basketball and we all believe it's appropriate to provide financial recognition to this group for their impact," he continued.
ABA members who played at least three seasons and didn't qualify for the league's pension plan will receive an annual payment of $3,828 for each year they played. In an example provided in the news release, the NBA said a player who was in the ABA for five years would receive $19,140 from the program.
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"Our players have a genuine sense of appreciation for those who paved the way and helped us achieve the success we enjoy today," NBPA Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio said in a statement.
"We have always considered the ABA players a part of our brotherhood and we are proud to finally recognize them with this benefit," she added.
The ABA operated from 1967 to 1976 before some of its teams — including the Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs — merged with the NBA, the Washington Post reported. The league featured stars such as Spencer Haywood, Julius Erving and Rick Barry.
The creation of the joint program comes after a years-long battle led by Dropping Dimes, an Indiana nonprofit that advocates for former ABA players who are living in "disadvantaged circumstances."
"Thank you to everyone who made this possible," the organization tweeted Tuesday. "A huge win for the game of basketball, for the fans, and, most importantly, for the players who changed the game!"
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According to USA Today, Dropping Dimes has helped struggling former ABA players pay for things such as funerals, rent and medical bills.
"This, these pensions, has been our big mission from Day 1," Scott Tarter, CEO and founder of Dropping Dimes, told the outlet. "This, what is happening now, getting these guys what they deserve."