QUENTIN RICHARDSON: HOW HIS BASKETBALL LEGACY LIVES ON IN LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENTS

January 3, 2018

By: Hemda Mizrahi
Editor: Excell Hardy Jr.

High School State Champion and McDonalds All-American, 1998. Conference USA Player and Freshman of the Year, 1999. NBA All-Star Weekend 3-Point Shootout Champion, 2005. These are some of the milestones of distinction that marked the consistent highs of Quentin Richardson’s basketball career. When asked if there are markers that he regrets passing by, he identifies one that he intends to rectify: “I’m going to complete my college degree in broadcast journalism. That’s part of the deal that I made with my Dad, and I want to set an example for my kids. My father’s biggest thing was being true to his word. When I start something, I like to finish it.”

With this same forward moving stance, three quarters into his 13-year NBA career, Richardson began to seriously think about his next aspiration. He notes, “I acknowledged that I was closer to the end of my career than the beginning. Maybe it was because I turned 30. I noticed a gradual progression in which I was maturing and paid attention when my peers were going out. I was also aware of the resources that were available to me through the NBA. I participated in a broadcasting program provided by the Players Association, and an entrepreneurship program, which led me to consider owning a business.”

Within a year of his retirement, Richardson landed a position as the Director of Player Development for the Detroit Pistons. He shares, “Even as I worked to be the best player I could be, I knew that I was capable of doing much more than basketball. I recognized that I was articulate and smart, that I could give back to community and connect with youth. The year in between my departure from the game and this new role was tough at first. I had been on a team since the age of six or seven. That transitional year was a time during which I still had basketball left in me. If you’re a pro athlete who leaves a game you’ve played since childhood, there will be a missing part that you’re not used to. You are missing the routine that has been a lifestyle for 10 to 15 years.”

Past the courts, Richardson found his reentry into the sport. “I went through the ups and downs of continuing to work out, preparing to be ready. In the end I didn’t get the call but I had also reached a point at which it became less difficult. I learned to adjust and roll with things because it wasn’t under my control. My retirement also came at a perfect time because I received the blessing of having my first daughter. It could have been worse if I didn’t have my wife and newborn to console me. Before I had a chance to get frustrated about not being a part of basketball, I received a call from coach about [contributing to] the Pistons and got right back into it.”

His new focus on ensuring that players were finding their way synched well with his love of interacting and connecting with people. With his home life in Orlando, Richardson’s operations responsibilities required him to be in Detroit and to travel with the team. In his second year with Player Development, it became important for him to be with family. He was candid about this need. “I told coach that I had to go back to Orlando, although I still wanted to contribute to the team. There were no other positions available at the time. Coach called me when a spot opened up in pro scouting that would offer me a chance to work remotely. I think that I received that call because coach knew my character. Whatever talents you have, you always want to be an honorable person because your skill runs out. Coach would not have had a need for me if I didn’t have good character. When I speak with kids, I advise them to do their job to the best of their ability and to treat someone like they’d want their mom, sister or daughter to be treated. If you try to do that all the time, positive things will happen. Who doesn’t want to be in the company of someone who’s a straight shooter?”

Now in his fourth year with the Pistons, two as the Director of Player Development and over one as a scout, Richardson is glad to remain a player in the space where his passions and priorities intersect. At the core of what matters to him is this: “The scout role is less hands on but it’s still about connecting with people, from the janitor to the owner. Everyone feels the same genuine level of respect no matter what they do. I don’t treat you differently because of your title. People say they feel comfortable with me, that I lighten the mood with jokes. Money and material things don’t drive and impress me. I like to deal with real stuff. I have four kids and no longer feel the need to be around a team all the time. I’m now part of team Richardson.”

Richardson has also stepped in another direction that became known to him as a player. In 2012, he signed a 10-eatery deal with the North Carolina-based franchise “East Coast Wings + Grill.” Like his other pursuits, his decisions were centered in both his self-awareness and love of people. “I was at a point where I wanted to own something. I sat with a financial adviser and compiled a list of possibilities, from restaurants to bowling alleys. I looked at pros and cons, eliminated options and saw what I was interested in. One of the most important outcomes for me was for my best friend to serve as an operations manager in my business. I am the way I am because of the people around me, those who have not put me on a pedestal. I’ve see people be glorified and change.”

While his career interval as a player pivoted in 2013, basketball and providing an infrastructure for others to be on course are lifetime achievements for Richardson. In 2017, he launched the Quentin Richardson Basketball Academy, through which he provides basketball and life skills development throughout Orlando, Florida and in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.