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How Players Associations Promote Growth On & Off the Court: NBPA Deputy General Counsel David Foster

As it continues to grow, the PTPA has looked to and collaborated with decades-old players associations like the NBPA (NBA Players Association) to glean best practices and inspiration. As part of this collaboration with fellow players associations, the PTPA has hosted a series of conversations with leaders across sports to further demonstrate professional athletes’ need for strong, autonomous player representation.  

In this series’ latest installment, the PTPA sat down with David Foster, the NBPA’s Deputy General Counsel, to discuss the NBPA’s evolution over time, the services it provides for players, and more. Watch the full conversation below.

How PAs and Leagues Can Grow Together

David pointed out that the NBA works for the teams, while the NBPA works for the players only – similar to how the PTPA works for players only. Through its commitment to the players, the NBPA provides athletes with a platform to speak out on issues like social justice and mental health, which has led to more growth and influence in the league overall.

“I think the biggest thing we’ve changed over the past 75 years is just growing up and maturing and providing more and more services for players.”

Getting Players To Understand PAs

The key to getting everyone on the same page and creating athlete unity through the players association? Awareness. 

“You have to get to all the players and get them to understand even what a union is.” 
After a busy 2023 that saw the PTPA team cover 21 tournaments and meet with 500+ players across tours and continents, the association is gearing up for an even bigger 2024 as it continues to foster awareness and education amongst players and player teams.

Helping Players Achieve Post-Career Success

“As a union, you provide the opportunities.” 

With programs to help players learn more about their off-court passions, such as broadcasting, real estate, and fashion, the NBPA helps its athletes consider and plan for the next chapter of their lives after they retire from the league. As the PTPA continues to develop its player services and offerings, it will look to replicate similar opportunities that support players’ transitions into their post-playing days.

The Importance of Player Support

David – like the PTPA – believes that being a resource for players and helping them achieve their on and off-court goals makes all of the players association’s behind-the-scenes work worth it. 

“Here, I feel like I’m on the right side. I think it’s like you have these athletes that are tremendously talented, and to be the best at what they do, they’re so focused that they need help in all these other things.”

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