I was unemployed twice in the span of a year. The first time, I got unemployment benefits, and they helped keep me alive while I looked for more permanent work. It's useful money, and an incredibly important government service at a time when a lot of people are out of work.
Larry Parker, spokesman for the N.C. Employment Security Commission, emailed this response to an Observer question about whether NBA and NFL players might qualify for unemployment benefits:
"The answer right now is no," Parker replied. "NBA players would not be eligible for benefits, mainly due to fact the NBA season is not in session. There is a reasonable expectation on the players part that they may play once the season begins."
NBA teams will release their regular-season schedules today, although that's far from a guarantee that all 82 Charlotte Bobcats games will be played as scheduled. The last time the NBA locked out its players (1998-99 season), the schedule eventually was reduced to 50 games, with teams occasionally forced to play three games in three nights. Normally no team plays more than two nights in a row.
Keep in mind that this ruling does not seem to preclude players from filing for benefits in November if games are canceled. On the other hand, people cannot file for benefits within 18 months of receiving any unemployment benefits. So, if a player needs money and files in November 2011, they may not be able to do so upon their release from an NBA roster until May 2013. For some of them, this decision will not make sense. They should hold on to their money whenever possible.
So don't go jumping the gun on benefits just yet, guys. Sure, you may want that new PS3 now, but you'll regret it when you're eating ramen noodles and busking outside of a Cheesecake Factory in two years.