Charles Grantham played a pivotal role in the revitalization and advancement of the National Basketball Association (the “NBA”).
Grantham led the National Basketball Players Association (the “NBPA”) during the most expansive period in the history of professional basketball, serving as Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer and having begun his tenure as Director of Administration and Marketing.
During his years with the NBPA, Grantham negotiated landmark collective bargaining agreements, developed visionary initiatives, and utilized his keen perception of marketing and business trends to help guide the expansion of professional basketball into a multi-billion dollar industry.
At the same time, the average NBA player’s salary increased from $300,000 to $1.8 million.
As a principal negotiator, Grantham dealt with issues ranging from the collective bargaining needs of the players to the economic benefits to cities acquiring expansion teams.
In developing labor agreements on behalf of the players, he recognized the need for owners and players to compromise and reach positive solutions for the advancement of the sport.
Grantham helped to establish the League’s four historic Collective Bargaining Agreements.
NBPA procured a defined percentage of gross revenues (53%) for NBA players, as well as instituted a free agency system, unique to professional sports, that allowed players to negotiate freely with other teams based on the player’s years of service.
Grantham won a $62 million settlement from the NBA on the players’ behalf in a case exposing under reporting of revenues normally due players under the “salary cap agreement.”
Grantham transformed the NBPA from a mere bargaining unit to a multi-faceted organization designed to enhance the league’s image and protect the NBA’s greatest asset-its players.
He instituted an orientation program for rookie players to help prepare them for the rigors of life in the NBA. The program, the first of its kind in professional sports, identifies and examines challenges and pressures players and their families will face in the fast-paced arena of professional sports.
Grantham initiated and directed several educational and counseling programs that expanded the benefits package for NBPA members including a second-career planning program emphasizing degree completion, aptitude testing, interviewing skills and professional internships geared toward development of post-playing careers.
Tackling the drug and HIV issues head-on, he innovated the NBPA/NBA drug policy, the first in professional sports to ban athletes for drug use as a model for corporate America.
Following Ervin “Magic” Johnson’s announcement that he was HIV-positive, Grantham created an HIV/AIDS program for NBPA members and their families in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
In response to concerns that players save more of the money they earn, Grantham initiated a comprehensive financial planning program.
In hand with this program, he conceptualized a unique deferred compensation plan, the $100 million “Pre-pension Plan,” for all members to access forced savings at the conclusion of their playing careers.
Grantham also created an agent regulatory system in response to the excessive fees charged to players by agents since. The system mandated that agents representing professional players be licensed by the NBPA and reduce their agent fees.
Grantham also worked to revive public perception of professional basketball.
Recognizing the importance of professional sports to urban economies, community involvement and civic vitality, he strove to institute programs that would develop players’ marketability, promote the industry’s economic growth and intensify national interest.
Grantham was a founder of “Athlete’s for Better Education,” an all-American camp since taken over by Nike and made into a flagship basketball camp for the best high school players in the United States, and he worked to establish the annual “NBPA Little City Awards Banquet,” which, over a 15-year period, raised millions to benefit mentally and physically challenged children and their families.
His thorough knowledge of the business of sports, especially professional basketball, and his vision in promoting the personal development of professional athletes have placed Grantham in demand as a speaker and lecturer.
Has appeared frequently on local and national television programs including ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and PBS’s The MacNeil-Lehrer Report. Grantham has authored several articles featured in The New York Times, USA Today, Inside Sports and The New York Daily News and was executive producer and narrator for a 35-minute documentary video titled “Cocaine Drain,” which featured NBA players speaking out against illegal drug use.
As a Presidential Conferee in the Reagan Administration, he helped to develop public policy to combat drug use in America. Grantham has testified before Congress regarding drug policies in professional sports and about collegiate eligibility and professional sports issues.
During his career with the NBPA, Grantham assembled a vast collection of honors and awards. He received the
K-Swiss Sports Executive of the Year Award,
the Success Guide Leadership Award,
the Black Athletes in America Forum Spirit Award,
the Wheelchair Classic Businessman of the Year Award,
the Rainbow Coalition Leadership Award and
the Pro-Am Achievement Award.
He was voted into the Cheyney State University Basketball Hall of Fame.
Grantham has served on numerous advisory boards and committees, including the board of directors and selection committee for USA Basketball’s Dream Teams I and II, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, the Basketball Alumni Foundation, Women’s Sports Foundation and Sports Career, Inc.
Grantham was among The Sporting News’ “100 Most Powerful Sports People” for three successive years.
Prior to joining the NBPA, Grantham was Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Wharton School, Graduate Division, at the University of Pennsylvania.
Grantham also possesses a comprehensive professional background in Industrial Relations, including recruitment/selection and program management, which he gained from his experience with General Electric Corporation and RCA.