There are a lot of Americans hit hard by the coronavirus’ impact on our economy — most of them people who could least afford to their paychecks stop. That included many people whose incomes were largely dependent upon the NBA, such as concession workers or janitorial staff at the arenas, or bartenders and waiters at restaurants near areas. All 30 NBA teams have put together some level of a plan to help arena workers, with numerous players pitching in to help.
Considering that, it’s difficult to have much sympathy for NBA players who may soon lose a portion of their upcoming paychecks.
But it’s going to hit some players hard because about a third live paycheck to paycheck, Portland’s CJ McCollum told former NBA player Jay Williams on “The Boardroom.”
“I think a lot of guys are going to be hurting especially people on minimums or people that didn’t just budget correctly and didn’t expect this to happen. Maybe they loaned money or paid money to family. Maybe they’re taking care of multiple people and now there’s a work stoppage for us and for a lot of people in America…
“I would say out of 450 players… 150 probably are living paycheck to paycheck.”
McCollum is a VP in the players’ union and is up to date on the negotiations between players and owners that may see a reduction in player salaries due to the cancellation of games (something that has yet to happen officially, but will). He’s also done his part, donating $170,000 to organizations working for COVID-19 relief in both his hometown of Canton, Ohio, as well as Portland.
The majority of NBA players make millions and appear to handle their finances well, there is undoubtedly a lot more education and awareness of financial issues for players than there was a couple of decades ago. Walk into a veteran locker room and it’s not uncommon to hear discussion of stocks or business investments.
However, young players will still make bad financial decisions. Family members will (in some cases) still be an unnecessary drain. There are guys making the minimum (or on two-way contracts) who are not raking in millions, and things are a little bit tighter.
The economic reality of the coronavirus suspension of play is going to hit them hard, and the players’ union knows it.