The NBA will become the first professional sports league to offer retired players medical benefits as part of a comprehensive and enhanced player retirement package.
"That was kind of a big point for us to be able to give back to retired players," Carmelo Anthony told ESPN concerning the recent collective bargaining agreement negotiations. "Every league sees what happens to retired players after a certain period of time. But for us to be able to take care of those guys, I know how much it means to them."
Starting on Jan. 1, the NBA and NBPA will equally fund a new health insurance plan, education/career development program and increases in pension benefits for retired players.
Previously, players who retired from the NBA received a pension from the league but were responsible for their own health insurance.
The sudden heart-related deaths of Darryl Dawkins and Moses Malone in 2015 led Adam Silver to call Michele Roberts about addressing this issue in their new CBA talks.
Michael Jordan also played a big role in stressing the importance of this issue.
"(Malone's and Dawkins' deaths) sent shock waves through the whole basketball universe," said Dwight Davis, who played for the Cavaliers and Warriors in the late 1970s and now serves as vice chairman for the National Basketball Retired Players Association. "Some of the deaths of retired players could have been avoidable because guys didn't have insurance and weren't doing yearly checkups."
"This is the first time in professional sports that this has happened," Davis added of the NBA providing medical benefits for retired players and their families. "What it means, dollar-wise for a guy like me who is 67, steadily employed for a while, on Medicare, with this new plan, I am going to save thousands of dollars -- in co-pays a minimum of $4,000 to $5,000 a year.
"Some of my younger counterparts are guys in their 40s, some of those guys are paying $30,000 a year for health insurance for themselves and families because of preexisting injuries. The abuse our bodies take, it is hard to get affordable insurance as a retired player."