Lawrence "Larry" Fleisher
When Larry Fleisher formed the NBA Players Association and opened the door for players to receive pensions, minimum salaries, as well as severance and disability pay, he allowed professional basketball to evolve into one of the most exciting and popular sports in the world. Fleisher was the driving force in the establishment of the free-agent system, primarily through a six-year battle fought in Congress and before the National Labor Relations Board. The result, the 1976 decision known as the Oscar Robertson Settlement, allowed the long-sought absorption of the ABA with the NBA. Fleisher helped establish the model antidrug program and improve the average player's salary. Later, he negotiated the agreement that established the NBA salary cap system. A strong advocate of players' rights, Fleisher's legal work laid the foundation for today's great professional game.