NBA players receive a $102 per diem for food

NBA players receive a $102 per diem for food on road under collective bargaining agreement, Brian Windhorst from the Akron Beacon Journal writes.

“NBA teams stay at the finest hotels, and perhaps no one eats finer. After getting a slight raise with their new collective bargaining agreement, the NBA players now receive a $102 per diem for meals.
It breaks down to $18.36 for breakfast, $28.56 for lunch and $55.08 for dinner.

The players have to pay tax on the per diem, but they get the full amount in cash at the start of each road trip. When the Cavaliers set out on their season-long six-game western road trip last week, each player, coach and the team’s support staff of trainers, managers, front office personnel, broadcasters and media relations staff got an envelope with $1,075 in it for meals.

Just where the money goes is, of course, up to the player. Some use every last dime on food, buying for themselves, friends and relatives on the road. Some spend part of it and pocket the rest, and sometimes the money doesn’t even make it to the first stop.
“There are some high-stakes card games on the plane,” one Cav said. “Sometimes that money is gone before we’re off the ground.”
Like the per diem itself, this is a long-standing tradition.
“The card games at the start of a trip were always different than at the end of a trip,” said former Cavs star Austin Carr, now the color analyst on the Cavaliers Television Network. “At the end the stakes were a little lower and guys were scraping.”
When Carr started in 1971, the per diem was $19. By the time he retired 10 years later, it was up to more than $30.
“Trust me; that was a windfall,” Carr said. “It was hard to get by in places like New York with that, you know.”

In fact, since Dan Gilbert bought the Cavs in March, he’s upgraded the team’s food situation dramatically. Players now frequently get complimentary lunch after practices and shoot-arounds. After the games, there’s a spread in the locker room plus meals to go prepared for them as they leave.

“I like to walk and I’ve learned some favorite spots over the years where you can get a good meal for a good price, or sometimes my teammates are good enough to buy,” Wilks said. “Then I just take what I have left over and give it to my wife.”
As you’d expect, though, Wilks is the exception. Most enjoy the $50 steaks and $20 club sandwiches and whatever else as a matter of routine along the NBA tour.
“When I was a kid, we didn’t have much but my parents always made sure we ate well,” Zydrunas Ilgauskas said. “So I like to eat good meals, and I usually end up spending all that money.”