AU basketball alumnus appointed president of the G League players union
Players unionize to improve conditions that are far from NBA standards
Former Los Angeles Lakers guard and American University alumnus Andre Ingram assisted in the creation of the newly formed Basketball Players Union and was recently appointed as its president.
The union will target players in the G League, the NBA’s minor league system, giving them access to healthcare, assisting with travel and hotel fees, accord them management access and provide more accommodations to players.
During his time at AU, Ingram was a three-time All-Patriot League player and is sixth on the University’s all-time scoring list. He then played for the South Bay Lakers and the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League, where he hustled for 11 years, becoming the all-time leader in games played, 3-pointers made and third in total points.
Ingram put in over 9,000 minutes of work in the minor leagues before going on to play in the NBA with the Lakers in April 2018. It was there that he became recognized for his impressive NBA debut, where he put up 19 points in front of an electric Staples Center crowd.
Ingram stated that his choice to push for the formation of the union was based on the fact that about 40 percent of NBA players have to weather the G League's underwhelming conditions before playing professionally. These players then get to experience the drastic difference in accommodations between the minor and major league. Many players have also spent time playing in different countries where the accommodations were much more fruitful.
“[What] we’re looking to do is really have our guys feel like they don’t have to go out of the country to get a first-class experience of the professional league that is not the NBA,” Ingram said.
When presented with the idea to form a union for G League players, Ingram and his fellow facilitators did not receive much resistance from management, and virtually none from the players. During the summer, about 80 percent of players supported the idea of forming a union, and Ingram guessed that the other 20 percent never responded. They only needed 30 percent approval to unionize, according to Ingram.
“A couple of years ago some guys from the NBA players association and [Executive Director] Michele Roberts came to us about forming a union,” Ingram said. “Once it was presented to myself and other veterans of the G League, it took all of five minutes to hear these guys for us to say ‘how hadn't we thought of this?’ Once we had that meeting, … it was just a no-brainer across the board.”
The coronavirus has cast an uncertain outlook for the 2020-21 G League season. Though the union is formed and ready to go, the committee and Ingram are unaware of when they can actually begin getting to work with players.
Despite this, Ingram remains hopeful that there will be a season in 2021, wherein he and the rest of the committee can begin working with players and providing them with the minor league experience that they deserve.
“The main thing we’re looking for is to make a living off of it,” Ingram said. “It’s well-documented that I’ve tutored kids and trained kids in the offseason — not as a joy or just to do it but as a necessity. That this could be your job for the entire year, and that you could make enough off of this to make a living for your family, I think it’s going to work out well for a lot of the guys.”