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Dropping Dimes Helps Connect Willie Long with Settlement

Via IndyStar, Dana Benbow

Less than a month ago, Long woke up with a knee hurting so badly he couldn’t make it to his job as a substitute teacher. And even if he had been able to, it was unlikely his 21-year-old Honda would start.

Long has no money to replace that car — or his knee.

Like many other ABA players who were not part of the league’s merger with the NBA or who didn’t play long enough in the NBA, Long never received the pension benefits he had earned. Many of those players have scraped by for decades. Many have health issues — big men who were tough on their bodies, bodies that now are breaking down.

“There are some ABA players living under bridges in New Orleans,” said the late Pacers player Mel Daniels in a 2015 IndyStar article. “They don’t have anything.”

Long played just three years in the ABA, for the Floridians and the Denver Rockets. In 213 games, he averaged 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Like many other ABA players who were not part of the league’s merger with the NBA or who didn’t play long enough in the NBA, Long never received the pension benefits he had earned. Many of those players have scraped by for decades. Many have health issues — big men who were tough on their bodies, bodies that now are breaking down.

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via IndyStar

“There are some ABA players living under bridges in New Orleans,” said the late Pacers player Mel Daniels in a 2015 IndyStar article. “They don’t have anything.”

Long played just three years in the ABA, for the Floridians and the Denver Rockets. In 213 games, he averaged 11.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Over the years, he had jobs as a regional manager for Taco Bell, Avon and Jiffy Lube. But after he retired several years ago, his Social Security wasn’t covering everyday life.

Long took up substitute teaching and refereeing high school volleyball to supplement Social Security. But soon, without a working car, and with a bad knee, he couldn’t make it to those jobs.

Things were looking pretty bad.

Then, a letter came from Indianapolis-based Dropping Dimes Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to help struggling former ABA players and their families. Long was one of 350 playersthe organization sent letters to asking if they needed help.

Long didn’t really want to ask anyone for help. But things were tough enough that he decided to put aside his pride and respond.

His application for assistance, a hand-written letter about his struggles, landed on the desk of Scott Tarter, co-founder of Dropping Dimes, about two weeks ago.

The timing stunned Tarter. Just days before, he had received another request – from the people with the NBA committee that doles out owed pension money to former players.

A class action lawsuit filed on behalf of former ABA players against the NBA for pension money owed was settled in 2014. It affected more than 200 players. Long was one of them, and the NBA committee wanted to find him.

Tarter had Long’s address and gladly passed it along.

“It was one of those moments,” said Tarter.

When Tarter picked up the phone and called Long to respond to his request to Dropping Dimes, Long had already been contacted by the pension committee.

“He was in tears,” Tarter said. “He had a difficult time talking to me. He said this was going to change his life.”

Neither Tarter, nor Long, want to reveal the amount of money Long is receiving.

“Let’s just say this is a life-changing scenario for him,” Tarter said.

But it’s no gift. This is money Long earned.

Shortly after Long was alerted to the money owed him, a former Kentucky Colonels player, 63-year-old Bird Averitt, learned from a Dropping Dimes advisory board member that he is owed back pension as well.

Find Out how you can help make the ultimate assist today HERE.

-Read more about Willie Long-

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