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With The New NBA G-League, It’s Finally Time For The Players To Get Paid A Living Wage

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Editor Dakota Schmidt explains why it’s finally time for the NBA D-League to get serious about giving their players a living wage.

Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

On Tuesday morning, the NBA confirmed in a press release that the NBA Development League will be renamed into the NBA Gatorade League (NBA G-League) starting in the 2017-18 season. This rebranding is the expanding of the continuing partnership that Gatorade and the NBA have had since 1984.

As part of this partnership, the NBA and Gatorade unveiled a new NBA G-League logo that will be featured on everything from game balls and team jerseys to on-court signage and the league’s digital assets. In addition to that, Gatorade will placing its latest product and equipment innovations into NBAGL locker rooms. Teams would also be able to have the opportunity to work with Gatorade to help players maximize their ridiculous upside.

Coinciding with that, G-League players would also be able to utilize the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI), an institute located in Barrington, Illinois. According to the GSSI’s site, the institute “is committed to helping athletes optimize their health and performance through research and education in hydration and nutrition science”. More information on that connection is seen in the NBA G-League’s official announcement video below.

Although it might take a while until we’re able to comfortably type out NBA G-League or NBAGL without getting a little queasy, this new rebranding does bring some positives. Probably the most glaring improvement is that it allows the league to move away from any negative connotation that was brought with the D-League name.

For the longest time, basketball fans saw the D-League either as a demotion for NBA players or as a location for low-quality talent. While the NBADL has seemingly been able to grow beyond that stigma, there’s no doubt that the league’s fanbase was hindered due to that negative connotation.

More important than getting rid of the negative stigma that came with the D-League, the new NBA Gatorade League provides the kind of sponsorship that we haven’t seen from any other minor league system. This new corporate relationship should create the kind of financial boom that would finally allow the league to increase salaries to the point where players can actually make a living wage.

Dating back to 2013, Ridiculous Upside has continued to discuss the effect that the low D-League salaries have on the player’s ability to stay in the NBADL for an extended period of time. While the D-League has always been the best avenue for any prospect that dreams of playing in the NBA, a lot of players are ultimately scared away from the low salaries of the NBADL.

According to The Step Back’s Chris Reichert, D-Leaguers during the 2016-17 season receive between $19,500 (B-Level) and $26,000 (A-Level). While that D-League salary is considered minuscule when you compare it to the six-figure contracts that players could receive in elite leagues in Europe or Asia, that B-Level contract is barely above the United States minimum wage of $15,080.

While that low salary has been atrocious for years, it would be absolutely unacceptable if we don’t see a significant increase with the new NBA G-League. If the NBAGL doesn’t increase their salaries to a living wage with this huge corporate sponsorship, it truly proves that the league doesn’t actually care about its players. Honestly, why would any player accept being a walking billboard for Gatorade when they’re receiving a salary that would upset a middle school janitor?

For nearly a decade, Ridiculous Upside has consistently been the top internet’s top source for news and analysis on NBA D-League. Since current CBS Sports writer Matt Moore founded the site in 2007, we’ve arguably been the biggest advocate for the NBA D-League from people that actually don’t work for the NBA.

Although we’ll continue to support this league, no matter if it’s the NBDL, NBADL or NBAGL, it’s time for us to put our foot down and fight for what’s right

With this new Gatorade deal, the NBAGL needs to get serious about giving each player in this league a living wage, whether they’re under a two-way contract or just sitting on the back of the bench. Rather than the lousy $19,500-$26,000 that the league currently doles out to their players, we need to see standard G-League players receive salaries that at least range between $35,000-$50,000. That salary would position nicely behind the $50,000-to-$75,000 salaries that will be given to players under two-way deals.

Although it may take a while for fans to get used to saying the NBAGL or NBA G-League, this deal becomes a game-changer if and only if the league is serious about giving each player a living wage. If they’re finally able to buckle down and do that, then the NBAGL could truly be a fantastic minor league system to the NBA that would feature talented players from the ranks of college, international and even elite high school graduates.

Until that day, Ridiculous Upside will continue fight for a living wage for players & coaches, no matter if it’s known as the NBA D-League or NBA G-League.