FIU doctors to provide free medical exams to retired NBA players

Otis Birdsong played 12 years in the National Basketball Association.

Originally from Winter Haven, Birdsong played his collegiate basketball at the University of Houston before being drafted second overall by the Kansas City Kings in the 1977 NBA draft. Now, as the National Retired Basketball Players Association’s chairman of the board, Birdsong looks forward to his next big matchup: seeking healthcare options for retired basketball players.

“There are a lot of players who are uninsured or under-insured,” said Birdsong, 57. “Many people don’t know this.”

The NRBPA, a non-profit organization whose mission is to assist former NBA, ABA, Harlem Globetrotters and WNBA players in their transition into life after the game, is partnering up with FIU Health and the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine to provide medical exams to retired basketball players.

FIU Health will provide free health services to up to 50 uninsured and underinsured NRBPA members and their spouses. These services, which will be conducted by doctors on staff, will include a physical exam, complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, urinalysis and electrocardiogram. The member will be responsible for medical costs related to any follow-up care.

The majority of the association’s members are in their 50s and played 30 years ago, when the average NBA salary was $330,000. Many suffer from orthopedic, heart and prostate conditions.

“I’m extremely happy about the partnership that we have with FIU. It provides members with the chance to get exams that they need,” Birdsong said. “I really appreciate FIU’s willingness to provide these services and look forward to the partnership.”

In return for these services, the NRBPA will work with FIU Health and FIU Athletics in marketing and promotional opportunities.

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