Will Bynum, a one-time fan favorite point guard during some lean years for Detroit Pistons basketball, is one of 18 former NBA players indicted in federal court for allegedly bilking the NBA of nearly $4 million in health-insurance fraud.
Other NBA stars involved in the plot include a former training camp invite of the Detroit Pistons, Terrence Williams, who allegedly masterminded the fraud plan, as well as former Michigan State standouts Shannon Brown, Alan Anderson, Detroit native Chris Douglas-Roberts and Flint native Eddie Robinson.
Other players named in the indictment include Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Darius Miles, Ruben Patterson, Sebastian Telfair, Milt Palacio, Jamario Moon, Gregory Smith, Melvin Ely and Tony Wroten.
The story was broken by Tom Winter, Johnathan Dienst and Courtney Copenhagen of NBC News.
The scheme revolved around filing reimbursement claims for medical and dental treatments paid for out of pocket that were never actually received using fake invoices.
The players allegedly filed $3.9 million in claims to the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan and received $2.5 million in reimbursements. It is unclear how much Bynum claimed or received during the scheme, which dates back to 2017.
The players face various charges including conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud as well as aggravated identity theft.
While most of these players were on the periphery of the NBA, most carved out long careers with earnings ranging from $9 million to $35 million. Miles earned $60 million in his career.
Just as a thought exercise, if the players were equally fraudulent and participated for the past four years, that represents roughly $55,000 in fraudulent claims per person. Why would an NBA player commit federal times and risk prison for a paltry sum like that?
There’s no way to no for sure, but it’s well documented that many professional athletes face financial hardships quickly after the end of their playing career. Maybe some of them saw a pathway to earning an easy buck.
Whatever Bynum’s involvement, if it is proven he was involved, it’s a major bummer for Pistons fans. Bynum became something of a cult hero in those post-Going to Work era teams as a scrappy, hard-nosed player who could deliver electric highlights.
He spent six seasons with the Detroit Pistons, most recently in 2013-14. After his playing days, Bynum became a trainer. He opened a skills academy for high school, college and professional players in 2019, including training eventual Pistons rookie Killian Hayes in his lead-up to the NBA Draft.
It was Joe Dumars who introduced Bynum to Hayes after the former Pistons GM brought Bynum in as a trainer to Independent Sports & Entertainment, a management company Dumars worked for at the time.