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Arthrosc Sports Med Rehabil


PURPOSE: To quantify the financial impact of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury on the remaining career earnings of National Basketball Association (NBA) players.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of all NBA players who had an ACL rupture between 2000 and 2019. Players were matched to healthy controls by age, position, body mass index, and player efficiency rating at the time of injury (index year). Player information collected included demographic information, position, team role, draft pick, date of injury, contract length, and earnings during the 3 years before and 7 years after the index year, as well as new contract length and earnings after injury.

RESULTS: A total of 12 players (22%) did not return to play (RTP). No statistically significant difference in annual earnings was present at any time point between cohorts. When we examined the mean difference in earnings between the first 3 post-index seasons and the 3 pre-index seasons, both the ACL and control cohorts showed increased salaries as players' careers progressed, without a significant difference in earnings. When comparing cohorts, we found no significant difference in the length and earnings of contracts during the index year. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the length or earnings of the first new contract signed after the index year between cohorts. Additionally, NBA players who were able to RTP after ACL reconstruction were more likely to experience increased earnings if they had greater experience and performance prior to their injury (P < .01).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study found that NBA players did not experience diminished earnings after RTP from an ACL reconstruction when compared with matched controls. Furthermore, no differences were seen in lengths of new contracts or in contract earnings between cohorts. Players with greater experience and performance prior to injury were more likely to have increased earnings after ACL reconstruction.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, retrospective case-control study.

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