Credit: - Scanpix
Credit - Scanpix

The EuroLeague Players' Association (ELPA) was established in 2018, in an attempt to provide athletes competing in Europe's top basketball league with a collective bargaining agreement, some minimum standards and guarantees, as well as a voice for their working conditions.

Kyle Hines

Kyle  Hines
Kyle  Hines
MIN: 23.81
PTS: 7.97 (63.77%)
REB: 5.28
As: 1.75
ST: 0.72
BL: 0.67
TO: 1.22
GM: 36

It was essentially the first time an international competition had a union of its own. Four years later, and on the occasion of the first-ever EuroLeague Framework Agreement, The Athletic delves into the creation of the ELPA and the obstacles that came its way. 

Kyle Hines, ELPA's vice president, said that what the union has been trying to achieve is to "lay down the foundation, and the roots for players that are going to play in EuroLeague for years to come."

In doing so, the ELPA takes a look "at the NBA or all the other sports around. You see how strong their unions are and see how powerful they are," the center of AX Armani Exchange Milan added.

ELPA set out to obtain uniform working conditions across the EuroLeague teams and to make it safer on players.

"At the beginning, we had to deal with such a basic thing that we wanted to achieve," president Bostjan Nachbar said. "For people, especially for the NBA players who are hearing this, they would think it’s absurd to even talk about that."

Hot meals for players, single rooms in away games, and the removal of potentially hazardous on-court stickers, used for advertising, were some of the topics. 

According to the article, Nachbar, a six-season NBA veteran, had seen the NBPA at work during his time in the States and knew the value of a robust players association.

The NBPA provided help to him and to ELPA as they built out their organization. They visited with the NBPA's executive director at the time, Michele Roberts, and toured its departments. Ron Klempner, the NBPA's senior counsel, explained how associations worked, from their CBAs to the rights players attain.

Bostjan Nachbar

Bostjan  Nachbar
Position: SF, PF
Age: 41
Height: 206 cm
Weight: 100 kg
Birth place: Slovenia

Credit AP - Scanpix

However, the ELPA still has so much to catch up on, Nachbar admitted that players in other leagues would "probably laugh" at what it has to accomplish.

"Our union is where the NBA was 30, 40 years ago," Hines said.

Hotel standards, training camp duration, and the right to a second opinion were other points of negotiation. 

Last month's amendment included the option of arbitration in case of disputes between a player and club, and added insurance for players’ families.

The most difficult part, according to Nachbar, was getting approval from everyone else. 

"A lot of people still thought that we're here only to mess things up and to try to screw up the club," he said.

"It’s not about that. Yes, we want to help the players but we also want to help the product because if the league grows, the players' careers are going to grow.

I think the most difficult part is still trying to have an open and honest trust and dialogue with some of the teams in EuroLeague that are still a little bit reserved with what we’re doing and they're seeing ELPA is only taking, taking but not giving back."

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