With New Union, Euroleague Players Finally on Track for NBA-Style Rights

Luka Doncic and Real Madrid celebrated a Euroleague playoff victory in May. Euroleague players have since formed a union and already achieved upgrades, such as more off days between games.

Luka Doncic and Real Madrid celebrated a Euroleague playoff victory in May. Euroleague players have since formed a union and already achieved upgrades, such as more off days between games.Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Page No. 329 of the NBA‘s collective bargaining agreement details the good life. Section 1 stipulates that, when teams travel, they must make the following arrangements for their players: “(i) To have their baggage picked up by porters; (ii) To have them stay in first-class hotels; and (iii) to have extra-long beds available to them in each hotel.” Section 2 is titled “First-Class Travel.”

It’s funny to see those luxuries detailed so formally—it’s easy to assume they’re automatic, unwritten. But that’s not so. The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) negotiated those amenities over the years. Maybe to appreciate those victories, one must look across the Atlantic Ocean to the world’s second-best basketball league.

Over the past 60 years, the top European circuit has hosted some of the sport’s great talent, from Arvydas Sabonis to Luka Doncic. And yet Euroleague players experience few of the same benefits their NBA counterparts do—not only when it comes to extravagant or trivial matters, but also when it comes to the more crucial components of a pro career.

In the Euroleague, there is no minimum contract, no protection against late payment and no pension program. There are long waits at airport lines, yes, but there’s also no access to neutral medical opinions and shady agents sticking their hands in various pockets. At long last, however, all of that is slated to change.

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