Category: Featured

-College Basketball Preseason Showdown presented by NBRPA and benefiting the McLendon Foundation will continue the experience in 2023-

CHICAGO, IL (Nov. 22, 2022) – Following a successful inaugural Legends of Basketball Classic that featured Gonzaga and Tennessee, both of which ranked as preseason top-15 programs, Intersport, the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA), the McLendon Foundation and iNDEMAND jointly announced plans to extend the partnership through 2023. Intersport will continue to lead the event operation and has begun the team recruitment and venue selection process for next season as well as reviewing opportunities for expansion of the concept.

The inaugural charity exhibition took place on Friday, Oct. 28, at the Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas and Tennessee scored a 99-80 victory. iNDEMAND – the largest distributor of PPV and on demand programming in North America – served as the exclusive streaming and TV distributor of the event via its streaming service PPV.COM and cable TV. The game was the first-ever national telecast of major college basketball on the pay-per-view platform and introduced a new model for raising charitable funds and signaling the fast-approaching start of the college basketball season.

“As we collectively evaluated this inaugural event, it became clear fairly quickly that we were all interested in pursuing a second edition of the event,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president at Intersport. “From the intense on-court experience that is sometimes atypical of preseason games to the well-received nature of the broadcast on PPV.COM and cable and satellite, the important visibility for our partners at the NBRPA and the charitable contribution to the McLendon Foundation, everyone involved benefitted from this experience. We’re eager to build off the success of this inaugural event and are aiming even higher in 2023.”

“The event blew away all our expectations; we knew it would do well, but the performance even surprised us,” Mark Boccardi, SVP Programming & Marketing for iNDEMAND & PPV.COM, said. “I think we have found the formula for a successful ongoing PPV event and we can’t wait for the next one. We are thrilled with the role we played in raising money for the McLendon Foundation."

“We are incredibly proud of the success of the inaugural Legends of Basketball Classic,” said Scott Rochelle, President & CEO, NBRPA. “This first-of-its-kind, Pay-Per-View event, allowed us to use the backdrop of a blockbuster college hoops matchup to raise funds for the McLendon Foundation, create a blueprint for philanthropy and sports business moving forward, and integrate the impact that NBRPA Legends provide. We are encouraged by the prospect of developing more of and growing these types of events in the coming years.”

"The McLendon Foundation was thrilled to be the beneficiary of the inaugural Legends of Basketball Classic," NACDA Vice President and McLendon Foundation Director Adrien Harraway said. "The Foundation's mission to provide access and opportunity to minorities pursuing careers in the sports space and this was a perfect opportunity to introduce the McLendon Foundation to a new audience. The atmosphere and enthusiasm in-venue was incredible."

About Intersport

Since 1985, Intersport has been an award-winning innovator and leader in the creation of sports, lifestyle, culinary and entertainment-based marketing platforms. With expertise in Sponsorship Consulting, Experiential Marketing, Hospitality, Retail Engagement, Content Marketing, Productions and Property Creation, this Chicago-based Marketing & Media Solutions Company helps its clients engage consumers with compelling ideas, content and experiences. To learn more about Intersport, visit www.intersport.global, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

About iNDEMAND and PPV.COM

iNDEMAND is an innovative partnership between three of the leading cable companies in the U.S.—Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, and Cox Communications. iNDEMAND is a company of trusted content aggregators and licensing experts, with unparalleled technical expertise and long-standing relationships with MVPDs, major sports leagues, Hollywood studios, and other entertainment and sports companies across North America. iNDEMAND delivers great content to more than 80 million cable homes and has distribution deals with more than 150 companies. In December 2021, iNDEMAND launched PPV.COM, an innovative streaming PPV service and the first of its kind to offer interactive fan engagement during live-action sports. With the addition of PPV.COM to its existing cable PPV infrastructure, iNDEMAND has consolidated all forms of PPV distribution under one roof, making the company the only provider of turn-key PPV solutions for both industry partners and consumers. For more information, go to indemand.com and PPV.COM

About the National Basketball Retired Players Association
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, and WNBA. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Legends Care is the charitable initiative of the NBRPA that positively impacts youth and communities through basketball. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Davis, Vice Chairman Dave Cowens, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Grant Hill, Thurl Bailey, Caron Butler, Jerome Williams, Shawn Marion, Charles “Choo” Smith, Sheryl Swoopes and Robert Horry. Learn more at www.legendsofbasketball.com.

About the McLendon Foundation

The McLendon Foundation, established in 1999, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded and administered by NACDA. Through the scholarship program and leadership initiative, the McLendon Foundation provides minorities educational resources, practical experiences and serves as a vehicle for networking, career advancement and advocacy on behalf of the profession. More information regarding the McLendon Foundation can be found at www.minorityleaders.org.

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Media Contacts:

Dan Mihalik, Intersport, dmihalik@intersport.global

Jenny Snegaroff, iNDEMAND & PPV.COM, jsnegaroff@indemand.com

Julio Manteiga, NBRPA, jmanteiga@legendsofbasketball.com

Julie Hammer, McLendon Foundation, julie.hammer@mettleandrise.com

-Legends to Compete Alongside Amateur Golfers in 10 Markets Across U.S. and in the Dominican Republic to Raise Money for Local Organizations-

CHICAGO, Illinois (October 6, 2022) – The National Basketball Retired Players Association and Deuce, today announced a collaboration to bring an unique golf experience to NBRPA members and amateur golfers – as part of the Deuce AM Tour, that will feature events at ten top golf courses across the U.S. and culminate at the world renowned Casa de Campo Resort & Villas located in La Romana, Dominican Republic. 

The Deuce Am Tour aims to provide an atmosphere for Legends to enjoy a premium event at exclusive clubs and play alongside some of the top amateurs in the world.  In addition, both, the NBRPA and Deuce organizations will collaborate to raise money in every market, in which an event is held, for a local organization that is dedicated to increasing diversity in the sport of golf.  Legends and amateur participants will also be treated to top-notch entertainment, including – Pairing parties, events for cigar, fashion and whiskey aficionados, live music, industry networking and much more. 

“We are excited to join forces with Deuce to be able to bring these types of events to where so many of our members enjoy being – on the golf course,” said Scott Rochelle, NBRPA President & CEO.  “This partnership, with a fast growing, Black-owned company, allows us to present our members with an incredible opportunity to further their involvement in amateur golf tours and the golf industry as a whole.” 

This alliance will enhance the competitive atmosphere at our national Amateur Tour events for our golfers and also for the former basketball players that will transition that naturally competitive spirit from the court to the fairways." Says Tarek DeLavallade, President of Deuce & the Deuce Am Tour. "Our goal is to create a memorable experience for everyone involved from the players, sponsors, and others who will be there to enjoy the all of our national events."

The Deuce AM golfing tour schedule will feature events from October through August 2023 in the following cities:

October 17 – Potomac Shores Golf Club, Washington D.C.

November 20 – Cowboys Golf Club, Dallas, TX

December 12 – Turnberry Golf Club, Miami, FL

January 22 – Keene’s Pointe Golf Club - Orlando, FL

February – Las Vegas, NV

March – Phoenix, AZ

April – Atlanta, GA

May – NY/NJ metro area

June – Chicago, IL

August – Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

*Exact dates of later events will be announced at a later date.

Deuce AM Tournaments are competitive and flighted and will allow NBRPA Legends to choose to compete in the Top 4 Flights, where they will be required to carry a USGA GHIN handicap number that can be verified.  If Legends do not have a GHIN number, they will have the opportunity to play in the Hackerish Flight. 

About the National Basketball Retired Players Association:
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, and WNBA. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Legends Care is the charitable initiative of the NBRPA that positively impacts youth and communities through basketball. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Davis, Vice Chairman Dave Cowens, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Grant Hill, Thurl Bailey, Caron Butler, Jerome Williams, Shawn Marion, Charles “Choo” Smith, Sheryl Swoopes and Robert Horry. Learn more at www.legendsofbasketball.com.

About Deuce:
Headquartered in Windermere, Fl., Deuce is one of the fastest growing brand in the Golf and
Lifestyle Industry. The parent company that manages the e-commerce brand Deuce,
Promotional Product Portal with over 25k items Deuce Promo, as well as the 11 Destination
Amateur Event Series - Deuce Am Tour. The brand’s purpose is to challenge what a brand is
capable of doing in an industry typically confined to a category or collection. Deuce specializes
in headwear, golf gloves, belts, luxury duffle bags, leather cigar pouches and humidors, lighters
and much more. A transformative company that is shifting annually and challenging not only the
industry, but themselves to grow beyond the ecosystem of lifestyle accessories.

Media Contacts:

Julio Manteiga, NBRPA, (516) 749-9894, jmanteiga@legendsofbasketball.com

-College Basketball Quadruple header in Chicago to spotlight the work of the National Basketball Retired Players Association-

CHICAGO (Aug. 23, 2022) – The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) and Intersport today announced details for the inaugural Legends of Basketball Showcase, a college basketball quadruple header set for Dec. 17 at the United Center in Chicago.

As part of the four-game set, Northern Iowa will face Towson and Tulane will take on George Mason in the afternoon session, while Dayton matches up against Wyoming and NC State will battle Vanderbilt in the evening session. Game times and television designations will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for the 2022 Legends of Basketball Showcase will go on sale to the general public on Sept. 21 and will be sold by session. For those looking to experience all four games, a purchase of the afternoon session and evening session will be required. Fans interested in attending the event can register to receive direct email alerts regarding ticket news and other event at www.LegendsofBasketball.com/Showcase. Those who register for these ticket alerts will be eligible for access to an exclusive one-day presale beginning on Sept. 20.

Founded in 1992, the NBRPA serves former professional basketball players in their transition into life after basketball.  The NBRPA is the only alumni association of its kind supported directly by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).

“The NBRPA is thrilled to partner with Intersport to present the Legends of Basketball Showcase for the upcoming college basketball season,” said Scott Rochelle, President & CEO NBRPA. “With NBRPA membership, including several executive board directors having deep ties to the participating college basketball programs, this event is a natural fit for us to bring to fruition. We look forward, to what promises to be an extraordinary day and night of top-notch college hoops entertainment.”

“Intersport is excited to partner with the NBRPA and help them extend their already well-established presence in the basketball community,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president of basketball at Intersport, which will manage the event. “As we continue to grow our robust portfolio of successful basketball events around the country, we are eager to create a major annual showcase event alongside another Chicago-based organization right here in our hometown.”

The eight programs competing in the Legends of Basketball Showcase have produced a combined 204 NBA Draft selections, while several coaches participating in the event have connections to the NBRPA, and vice versa.

At the helm of Vanderbilt is 18-year NBA veteran Jerry Stackhouse, the former No. 3 overall draft pick and two-time All-Star who appeared in 970 games for eight teams. Wyoming assistant coach Shaun Vandiver is a former first-round pick (25th overall) by the Golden State Warriors in the 1991 NBA Draft. George Mason head coach Kim English was drafted in the 2nd Round (44th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons and Northern Iowa assistant coach Seth Tuttle played for the Miami Heat’s Summer League team in 2015.

NBRPA Board Chairman Johnny Davis is a Dayton alum, leading the Flyers in scoring for three consecutive seasons (1973-76) before spending nearly four decades with the NBA as a player, front office executive, assistant and head coach. Additionally, two NBRPA Board Members are NC State alums. Thurl Bailey, who led the Wolfpack in both scoring and rebounding during the team’s miracle 1983 NCAA Championship season before embarking on a 13-season NBA career, and Chucky Brown, who led NC State in scoring in 1988 (16.6 ppg) and rebounding in 1989 season (8.8 rpg).

It will be the first matchup between Northern Iowa and Towson and the third between Tulane and George Mason, with the teams splitting the prior two contests. Dayton and Wyoming have also met twice previously, with Dayton winning in December 2004 and Wyoming winning in January 2004. The contest between NC State and Vanderbilt will be the sixth all time, with the Commodores owning a 3-2 edge in the series. Each of the previous three matchups have been neutral site contests, with NC State winning the last matchup in 2018.

To follow along with the NBRPA, find them on social media at @NBAalumni on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch. 

About the National Basketball Retired Players Association
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, and WNBA. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Legends Care is the charitable initiative of the NBRPA that positively impacts youth and communities through basketball. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Davis, Vice Chairman Dave Cowens, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Grant Hill, Thurl Bailey, Caron Butler, Jerome Williams, Shawn Marion, Charles “Choo” Smith, Sheryl Swoopes and Robert Horry. Learn more at legendsofbasketball.com

About Intersport

Since 1985, Intersport has been an award-winning innovator and leader in the creation of sports, lifestyle, culinary and entertainment-based marketing platforms. With expertise in Sponsorship Consulting, Experiential Marketing, Hospitality, Retail Engagement, Content Marketing, Productions and Property Creation, this Chicago-based Marketing & Media Solutions Company helps its clients engage consumers with compelling ideas, content and experiences.  To learn more about Intersport, visit www.intersport.global, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Contacts:

Dan Mihalik, Intersport, dmihalik@intersport.global

Daniel Sagerman, Intersport, dsagerman@intersport.global

Julio Manteiga, NBRPA, jmanteiga@legendsofbasketball.com

-Events to Include Legends Tech Summit, Amazon Career Event, Outing at Top Golf Las Vegas and NBA Summer League Action-

Chicago, ILL. July 5, 2022 - The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) announced today the launch of its annual Legends Summer Getaway in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The event will feature over 100 NBA, WNBA, and ABA Legends taking part in networking events from July 7-9.  As part of the annual event, Legends will be treated to the Legends Tech Summit – Emerging Technology & Player Opportunities powered by The ARIA Exchange, the Amazon Career Event, an outing at TopGolf Las Vegas, NBA Summer League game action and an NBRPA hosted party at JEWEL Nightclub. 

“Bringing retired players back for our events is a natural fit for us and is part of our DNA,” said NBRPA President and CEO Scott Rochelle. “With the importance of Summer League and all of the possibilities Las Vegas presents, we want to make sure we have a large presence here as well and keep this community of players involved in everything that’s going on in world of basketball and business.”

The Emerging Technology & Player Opportunities Tech Summit will provide a blue-ribbon panel consisting of NBA Legends Metta Sandiford-Artest, representatives from The ARIA Exchange, BLEAV, and the NBA and will be moderated by NBA/WNBA Analyst, ESPN - Ros Gold-Onwude.  Discussions will center on the newest developments in the NFT space, podcasting, and the potential these innovative fields present for former players.

The Amazon Career event will feature WNBA Legend Yolanda Moore discussing her experiences as part of Amazon’s Athletes Program and the impact it has had on her post-playing career and the benefits for other athletes.

Legends will also show of their golf swings at an exclusive outing at TopGolf Las Vegas and check out the newest NBA talent when they take in NBA Summer League action at the Thomas & Mack Center. 

To learn more about the National Basketball Retired Players Association, please visit https://www.legendsofbasketball.com/

About the National Basketball Retired Players Association:
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Legends Care is the charitable initiative of the NBRPA that positively impacts youth and communities through basketball. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Davis, Vice Chairman Dave Cowens, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Grant Hill, Thurl Bailey, Caron Butler, Jerome Williams, Shawn Marion, Charles “Choo” Smith, Sheryl Swoopes and Robert Horry.   Learn more at legendsofbasketball.com

To follow along with the NBRPA, find them on social media at @NBAalumni on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch. 

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CONTACTS:

Julio Manteiga, NBRPA, jmanteiga@legendsofbasketball.com, (516) 749-9894

-Exclusive Partnership to Involve Nearly 1500 Basketball Legends Including Iconic Names – Bill Russell, Jerry West, Karl Malone, Walt Frazier, Chris Mullin and more-

-Revolutionary Media Network’s ARIA Exchange Reimagines the NFT Experience With An Original, Next-Level, Transparent, Secure and Carbon Negative Consumer NFT trading platform-

Chicago, ILL. June 22, 2022 - The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) announced today a groundbreaking group licensing deal with ARIA Exchange.  The multi-year agreement will allow ARIA Exchange to create royalty generating products, utilizing its innovative Aria 360 technology. ARIA Exchange will create and market virtual marketing ad-campaigns to brands featuring Legends and virtual images of Legends in the form of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) - digital assets that are functional through blockchain technology.  

This robust opportunity ushers the NBRPA into the new iteration of internet technology, while leveraging Legends' Name, Image, and Likeness to best align with emerging digital trends.

“As the demand for Legends and their one-of-a-kind collectibles skyrockets, this partnership with ARIA Exchange allows us to bring our Legends into a new and innovative marketplace, where they can serve as connoisseurs and creators of their narrative,” said Scott Rochelle, President & CEO, National Basketball Retired Players Association.  “We are thrilled to partner with ARIA Exchange to celebrate our Legends’ accomplishments and iconic moments and provide exclusive and artistic value to fans and collectors around the world.” 

The first release featuring NBRPA Legends will be available summer 2022 exclusively on ARIA Exchange and will include such notable names as Bill Russell, Jerry West, Karl Malone, Isiah Thomas, Chris Mullin, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins, Grant Hill, Hakeem Olajuwon, Earl Monroe, Elgin Baylor and many more.  

To learn more about the National Basketball Retired Players Association and the ARIA Exchange, please visit https://www.legendsofbasketball.com/ and  https://ariaexchange.com.  

About the National Basketball Retired Players Association:
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Legends Care is the charitable initiative of the NBRPA that positively impacts youth and communities through basketball. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Davis, Vice Chairman Dave Cowens, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Grant Hill, Thurl Bailey, Caron Butler, Jerome Williams, Shawn Marion, Charles “Choo” Smith, Sheryl Swoopes and Robert Horry.   Learn more at legendsofbasketball.com

To follow along with the NBRPA, find them on social media at @NBAalumni on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch. 

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CONTACTS:

Julio Manteiga, NBRPA, jmanteiga@legendsofbasketball.com, (516) 749-9894

- Legends Locker Room App to Provide Secure Destination for All NBRPA Members to Interact and Access Exclusive Content -

Chicago, ILL. May 5, 2021 - The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) today launched its most innovating initiative in providing an exclusive private community for all NBRPA members to communicate and interact.  NBRPA membership will have access to the “Legends Locker Room” app, where they will have exposure to exclusive content, member-to-member communication, NBRPA programming, event information, commerce opportunities, career development resources and additional benefits to assist in their post-playing careers. 

With the creation of the “Legends Locker Room” app, the NBRPA is able to provide an all-inclusive destination for basketball’s biggest stars to securely interact with each other via forums and direct messaging, publish player generated content, receive real-time updates, browse player profiles, and access all Legends Media & Entertainment (LME) content.  LME is the NBRPA’s multifaceted story-telling platform producing, distributing and quantifying the wide-reaching stories of many of the NBA and WNBA’s biggest stars that was launched in August and has seen record growth since launch.

“We are extremely excited to be able to bring the “Legends Locker Room” app to life and to provide a one-stop communications platform for our over 1,300 members to utilize,” said Scott Rochelle, President and CEO of the National Basketball Retired Players Association.  “This app enforces our commitment to provide our members with the best post-playing career support system and grant them access to a secure forum to network with our extended basketball family, explore career and business opportunities, generate, consume and share content and keep up to date with real-time updates on all NBRPA news, initiatives and events.” 

In addition to accessing content and NBRPA updates, members will also be able to access health insurance updates, health and wellness programs, Symplicity career opportunities, scholarship resources, member grant programming, appearance opportunities, event information – including registration/transportation assistance and augmented reality options, for players that cannot attend in person, sponsorship and business opportunities as well as branded content from sponsors. 

The “Legends Locker Room” app was created using technology from TopFan - an end-to-end technology platform for building highly engaged user communities and direct to consumer businesses that has been utilized by such entertainment entities as Warner Bros., MGM, Lionsgate, Maroon5, Zac Brown Band, the Denver Broncos, the MLB Players Association and the NFL Players Association among others. 

About the National Basketball Retired Players Association:
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Legends Care is the charitable initiative of the NBRPA that positively impacts youth and communities through basketball. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Davis, Vice Chairman Dave Cowens, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Grant Hill, Thurl Bailey, Caron Butler, Jerome Williams, Shawn Marion, David Naves and Sheryl Swoopes. Learn more at legendsofbasketball.com.

To follow along with the NBRPA, find them on social media at @NBAalumni on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch or on Facebook at NBA Alumni.

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CONTACT:

Julio Manteiga, NBRPA, (516) 749-9894, jmanteiga@legendsofbasketball.com

NBRPA TO ENHANCE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES EFFORTS WITH TECHNOLOGY FROM CAREER SERVICES MANAGER BY SYMPLICITY

Chicago, ILL. Jan. 21, 2021 - The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) today launched its latest and most encompassing initiative in providing professional services to its members by teaming up with Career Services Manager (CSM) by Symplicity.  CSM will provide, exclusively to NBRPA members that are looking for the next step in their post-playing careers, access to CSM’s extensive resources to browse for career advancement opportunities, upload resumes, keep in touch with recruiters and have access to over 1,200 institutions, commercial entities, and organizations across the world.

Symplicity’s CSM services have been utilized by over 11 million users, including similar peer organizations such as the NFL Player Care Foundation, Divergence Academy, the Flatiron School, Women who Code and more. In addition, the NBRPA is also partnering with AthLife to provide resume assistance to former players that register for the services. 

“We are elated to team up with Symplicty and utilize their innovative technology and extensive network to provide our membership best in class professional services,” said NBRPA President & CEO Scott Rochelle. “Our unwavering focus is to support our membership in life after their playing days, and help leverage their inspirational influence, on-court experience and dedication to excellence into long lasting, success in the modern business world.”   

About the National Basketball Retired Players Association:
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Legends Care is the charitable initiative of the NBRPA that positively impacts youth and communities through basketball. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Davis, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Grant Hill, Thurl Bailey, Caron Butler, Jerome Williams, Dave Cowens, Shawn Marion, David Naves and Sheryl Swoopes. Learn more at legendsofbasketball.com. To follow along with the NBRPA on social media, find at @NBAalumni on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch or on Facebook at NBA Alumni.

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CONTACT:

Julio Manteiga, NBRPA, (516)749-9894, jmanteiga@legendsofbasketball.com

by JIM ROOT

“Ball is life.” A mantra for many hoop heads, that phrase has come to represent the total devotion to basketball, whether it be watching, playing, analyzing, or taking part in any other aspect of the game.

No one better represents the way the sport can consume a person than professional basketball players. For many, the sport becomes interwoven with their identity, and really, how could it not? It takes a staggering amount of work to get to that level, even for the most physically gifted, and the pressure to maintain – and even increase – that level of commitment multiplies as the stage gets grander.

The risk, though, comes in having so much of oneself tied to such a singular focus. What if your body falters? Or, perhaps even worse, what if your mind does?

Larry Sanders knows the burden of being a professional all too well. After vastly outperforming his rookie contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, he signed a four-year, $44 million extension in 2013, and the ferocious rim protector seemed primed to be a principal reason to “Fear the Deer” for the rest of the decade.

After leading the NBA in block percentage in 2012-13, Sanders became something of a cult favorite among fans, spearheaded by his highlight reel blocked shots and sometimes-acrimonious run-ins with officials. ESPN NBA writer Zach Lowe referred to him only as “LARRY SANDERS!” in articles, and Sanders was once ejected from a game for awarding each official with an exaggerated thumbs-up gesture following a call with which he disagreed. But the 6’11 defensive star wasn’t thriving in the same way privately.

As fans, we want to believe we “know” a player based on what we see on the court. Sanders was a confident defender, constantly smiling but also quick to frustration when calls went against him. So, this must be his off-the-court personality as well, right? Happy, but a loose cannon?

“What do you really value in a person? Their honesty, their trust, their loyalty, their commitment…you can’t tell that by looking at someone jump around on TV,”

“YOU CAN SACRIFICE SO MUCH OF Y OURSELF AND BE LEFT WITH NOTHING AT THE END OF THE DA Y,” SANDERS SAID, ENCOURAGING FELLOW PLAYERS TO PUT THEMSELVES FIRST , AS WELL. “THE DA Y AFTER YOU WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP , YOU’RE GONNA FEEL LIKE THE SAME DA Y BEFORE… IT’S GONNA FADE.”
-- Larry Sanders

Sanders says. And he’s right – we have no way of knowing what’s actually happening inside the heads of professional athletes, which is why
it’s so important that those athletes put themselves first, even if it may not be glamorous to do so.

Sanders ultimately had to make that decision for himself, checking himself into Rogers Memorial Hospital for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders in February 2015, leaving the game he loved because he knew he needed to prioritize his own well-being above the fleeting accomplishments of the sport.

“You can sacrifice so much of yourself and be left with nothing at the end of the day,” Sanders said, encouraging fellow players to put
themselves first, as well. “The day after you win a championship, you’re gonna feel like the same day before… it’s gonna fade.”

Iciss Tillis was always a lover of basketball, too, and her preternatural abilities only made it easier to get lost in the game. She was a high school All-American in Oklahoma, earning a scholarship at Duke University and eventually blossoming into a collegiate All-American there, as well.

She always had other interests, though. From an early age watching the O.J. Simpson court proceedings, Tillis knew she had a passion for justice. For a long stretch of her life, she put that interest on the back-burner, throwing herself into her basketball career (and doing so rather successfully). But she always felt the pull off the courtroom, wisely acknowledging to herself that hoops would not last forever.

Eventually, at age 30, Tillis hit the breaking point. She retired from basketball and immediately began to figure out how to kick-start her legal career, quickly enrolling at Texas Southern and distancing herself from the game, even as that distance pained her – and others around her. For instance, her mother had spent Tillis’ entire life closely following her daughter’s basketball career, and suddenly that connection was gone. But Tillis had to follow her heart.

“Walk in your path – or you’ll live someone else’s dream,” she says. Practicing law had been Tillis’ dream from a young age, and there’s a freedom in pursuing that, even if others may have wondered why she was walking away from the game.

Another of Tillis’ favorite axioms laments this transition period: “Athletes die twice.” She was – and still is – determined to make her “second life,” so to speak, just as fulfilling. Tillis is now a successful attorney for Jackson Lewis, and her unique perspective in the legal field
has come in handy throughout her career.

Basketball is a beautiful game. It can give opportunities to people who may not otherwise have them, and the correlation between hard work and results is tremendously satisfying, even at levels far below the professional ranks.

Like any relationship, though, the one between a player and the game should always be mutually beneficial. The connection will be better and more rewarding if the player retains an identity and a healthy state of mind outside of the sport. For Sanders and Tillis, basketball – for as much as they truly did love it – became an obstacle to something else, and each one knew that the best approach for individual happiness was to walk away.

Ball can certainly be life, but it should never be at the expense of self, and players (and coaches, scouts, etc.) must never be afraid to realize the freedom and joy that can come from the rest of life, as well.

INSIDE THE METEORIC RISE FROM PL AYER TO EXECUTIVE

by CALEB FRIEDMAN

What do you do if the game no longer wants you back?

A severely underrated and under-reported aspect of athletic retirement is how often it is a “by default” decision. The legends who choose to leave the game get plenty of attention (think Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, etc.), but there are significantly more players for whom the phone simply stops ringing. These players pass on silently into the next phase of life, left to figure out a new direction in which to pivot.

Elton Brand dreaded the idea of falling into the latter group. Once on track for one of those “storybook retirement” situations – Brand was positively dominant for the first eight years of his career – injuries had robbed the former Duke star of his explosiveness before his mind was ready to move in a new direction. Basketball was still his passion, and more specifically, playing basketball was still what he wanted to do.

General Manager Elton Brand of the Philadelphia 76ers talks on the phone prior to the game against the Chicago Bulls on October 18, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

That distinction is crucial, because it wasn’t as if Brand had no options. The Atlanta Hawks, for whom he had just finished playing during the 2014-15 season, were keen on bringing Brand into the front office fold, offering him an assistant GM job under Hawks President and head coach Mike Budenholzer. Brand is no fool; he knew it was a tremendous opportunity, and he went through the process of exploring it, shadowing upper management and walking through the beats of a typical day in the life of a member of the front office. The work intrigued him, but his heart was not yet ready to close the book on his playing days.

I love playing ball. I want to hoop, Brand thought.

And so he respectfully declined the Hawks’ offer, opting to return home to Penn-sylvania, yearning to hear the phone ring one more time with the promise of a role he wanted to fill. It was an uneasy period, but Brand was happy to throw himself into his training and his family life. He relished the time he was able to spend with his family after so many years on the road, reveling in seemingly simple tasks like taking his kids to school. Family, as Brand says, is – and will always be – the most importing thing to him. Other opportunities came knocking, like being on television or an assortment of business ventures, but Brand wanted to lace up the sneakers, and he had the luxury and stability to decline anything that wasn’t exactly what he was looking to do.

Eventually, in January 2016, the right call came. The Philadelphia 76ers, deep in the throes of “trusting the process,” wanted a strong veteran presence to join the bench and help mentor the alarmingly young nucleus. It was a strong fit on both sides: the team liked the positive impact he had made on Atlanta’s roster, and Brand appreciated the thought of staying somewhat local and potentially easing into the front office work he had previously explored with the Hawks. The 76ers agreed to an arrangement that would give Brand a path to management, and he returned to the team he had spent four years with from 2008-2012.

It turned out to be a perfect match. The months spent with the fledgling 76ers gave Brand the transitionary phase he needed to adjust to the idea of moving into the front office, and the influence he had on players like T.J. McConnell (still with the 76ers to this day), Robert Covington, and Nerlens Noel helped those guys through one of the bleaker campaigns in NBA history.

And then the real work started.

After the season, Brand at last found himself ready to make the switch to an off-the-court role. The passion for the sport remained, but that last run with the 76ers served as almost a therapeutic period, freeing his mind to take a role as a player consultant for the organization.

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers shakes hands with Elton Brand, General Manager, after a press conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 20, 2018. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

He threw himself into the new gig, treating it like a corporate job and demonstrating to the rest of the front office that he wanted to be in management. He traded in his sneakers for dress shoes, his sweatsuit for a suit, and left the court behind. During his performance review after the season, head coach Brett Brown and general manager Bryan Colangelo told Brand they envisioned his role as more on-court, though they still offered high praise for his determination to learn the ins and outs of the off-court operation.

Brand knew where he wanted to be, though, intentionally position-ing himself as an off-court presence. “That was by choice,” Brand told the NBRPA. “I didn’t go on the court at all, I didn’t get one rebound. I’d suggest that for any player post-career: pick a lane, pick what you love and attack it.”
With that clarity of focus on his side, Brand pursued a job opening with Philadelphia’s G-League team, the Delaware 87ers (now the Del-aware Blue Coats). His experience – and strong performance – in his prior consultant role made him a superb candidate.

“I loved the idea,” Brand said. “If I want to go be a GM one day, it was a no-brainer for me. I jumped at the opportunity.”

He earned the role, and suddenly he found himself running the day-to-day operation for a team barely a year after he was done play-ing. Gone was the luxury of the NBA, but Brand was ready for this new challenge, no longer yearning for the one more shot to be on the court. He embraced his new lifestyle in the grittier G-League, fondly recalling renting cars to scout players in places like Canton, Ohio, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or flying to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in a snow storm. Brand really valued the chance to gain valuable reps without the ever-present microscope of the NBA bearing down on him.

“The G League showed me I’d love to be a general manager if I got the opportunity,” Brand said. “Taking buses, it’s not glamorous, it’s not the NBA, but it’s still basketball. It was pure. It was still basket-ball.”

The experience he gained in areas like running his own draft and executing his first trades would quickly prove invaluable. Colangelo resigned his general manager position in June of 2018, and Brand, who had already been promoted to Vice President of Basketball Operations, leapt at the chance to fulfill his dream of being a GM.

Everything Brand had learned through his time as a mentor in Atlanta and Philadelphia, plus his tenure in charge of the Blue Coats and his laser-focused mentality, shined through in the interview process. He sold the ownership group on his vision for the team and its cornerstone pieces in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and his ability to communicate and connect with both the management team and the players made him a tremendous candidate.

“It was bigger than just me, the opportunity to be an ex-player and show we can fulfill and excel in these roles,” Brand said. “Being a lifelong learner and having a growth mindset, it was an opportunity to learn and grow and embrace a new challenge.”

Since taking over as GM, Brand has made several bold moves, including trading for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris and signing Al Horford as a free agent this off-season. But for the burgeoning new front office superstar, it’s about far more than just roster transactions. It’s about finding a new place for himself in the world of basketball, and perhaps just as importantly, finding an area of the sport that wants him, too. He has a tremendous platform to impact people in a positive way, and he does not take that lightly.

“My goal is obviously to win a championship for the city of Philadelphia,” Brand said. “(But) the broader goal is bigger than basketball, having these relationships with the players that they can come into our organization and make their dreams come true, and then when they leave the game have opportunities and have a great feeling about our organization. ‘The Sixers are a great organization; Elton Brand supports me as a mentor and a friend even if I can make a shot or not.’ It’s bigger than basketball.”

“IT WAS BIGGER THAN JUST ME, THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE AN EX-PLAYER AND SHOW WE CAN FULFILL AND EXCEL IN THESE ROLES. BEING A LIFELONG LEARNER AND HAVING A GROWTH MINDSET, IT WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN AND GROW AND EMBRACE A NEW CHALLENGE.”
-- Elton Brand

by PAT EVANS

As Drew Gooden reached his 10th year in the NBA, he realized he was invested in nothing outside the sport.

During the four years following that thought, Gooden continued to play in the league, rebuilding his off-the-court career to support his post-career life. Gooden went with an industry he knew well: restaurants. Specifically, chicken wings and the quick-service restaurant, Wingstop.

“From a customer perspective, I fell in love with the restaurant, it was something that pulled me in,” Gooden said, explaining how he decided to go with a chain for his first entrepreneurial endeavor. “You always hear the horror stories of opening a restaurant, the statistics of them being successful. So with the situation I was in, I thought I could beat the odds.”

As Gooden, who played for ten teams during his career, began looking into opening his first shop, he began the due diligence process, including chatting with Junior Bridgeman and Jamaal Mashburn, both of whom have become quick-service restaurant businessmen. They answered many of the questions Gooden had before opening his first Wingstop in Altamonte Springs, Florida, in 2012.

“Those two guys stick out amongst a lot of others because they own hundreds of concepts,” Gooden said. “I knew I loved wings, but I didn’t know the business concept. It was a first-time learning experience.”

After seven years in control of the store, Gooden said it’s one of the most successful Wing Stop locations. He’s now in negotiations to acquire another four Wingstop locations.

Along with his growing Wingstop empire, Gooden said his bread and butter is triple-net commercial real estate properties, including national tenants. He said once he began running a business, the idea of owning an asset and collecting rent on a physical property intrigued him. Now he owns commercial real estate across the southeast, in Napa Valley and the Bahamas and is always actively looking to add to his portfolio, particularly in regions that are growing and appreciating at a fast pace.

Drew Gooden of 3’s Company drives to the basket against the Trilogy during week nine of the BIG3 three on three basketball league on August 17, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/BIG3 via Getty Images)

For him, Wingstop wasn’t the end all, be all, but a means to learn the ropes. As he learned the fundamentals, he began to wonder why he was paying rent.

“It was a learning tool, how to own, how to operate, create leverage and negotiate,” he said.

With his early business endeavors, Gooden also said it’s important to embrace mentors the same way early career athletes look at veterans in the game.

“You want to get all the guidance in the world,” he said. “I correlate as being a rookie, coming in you look at the veterans, the coaches, medical staff, to get you into a routine in the NBA to succeed. I surrounded myself with the same type of components in my business life.”

Gooden said it’s important to harness opportunities available during a professional athlete’s career.

“There’s a mass network of people that want to know you while you’re playing,” he said. ”When you’re retired, a handful are still interested, but most, you don’t build the relationships over time.”

“WE HAD ENOUGH DATA OF ATHLETES MAKING BAD INVESTMENTS, SO I WAS WEARY ABOUT JUMPING IN TOO SOON. AT THE SAME TIME, I WISH I WOULD HAVE, AS THE PLACES I WAS LOOKING TO INVEST IN HAVE APPRECIATED THREE-FOLD SINCE MY ROOKIE YEAR.”
-- Drew Gooden

The stories of professional athletes making bad investments or going broke after their playing days echo through Gooden’s ears prior to starting his post-career endeavors. Some of that knowledge is why it took him until his 10th year to begin building his portfolio.

“It’s the coulda, woulda, shoulda,” he said on if he should have started sooner. “We had enough data of athletes making bad investments, so I was weary about jumping in too soon. At the same time, I wish I would had, as the places I was looking to invest in have appreciated three-fold since my rookie year.”

“It’s all a learning experience. And the blessing of playing in the NBA at a young age is you retire still young and there’s still lots of opportunities out there.”

He said there was a disconnect in financial literacy teachings in generations of the past, but it’s improving rapidly as more athletes talk about their successes and failures.

On the horizon for Gooden? Prior to the season, he signed new broadcast contract with NBCSports. He also recently finished his communications degree at the University of Kansas and is enrolled in an executive education program at Columbia.

And plant-based restaurants.

“Plant-based is here to stay,” he said. “There’s a huge percentage that wants to eat it, not many QSR serve it. That’s something I’m going to look at.”

by BEN LADNER

NBA legacy families have existed almost as long as the league itself has. Scores of former pro players have gone on to see their sons trace their paths to the league, and many NBA family trees stretch unimaginably wide. Rick Barry raised three sharp-shooting sons, Jon, Brent, and Drew) who played in the league, while Bill and Luke Walton each won two NBA titles in their respective eras. Matt Guokas Jr. won a championship with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967 – 20 years after his father won with the Philadelphia Warriors in the league’s inaugural season – making the pair the first father-son championship duo in NBA history. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson followed their fathers’ footsteps to team up and anchor a dynasty. The list goes on.

Perhaps the biggest difference between today’s NBA offspring and yesteryear’s is the scope and intensity of the spotlight. Today’s high school and college players get more national exposure than ever before; grow up with an NBA legend for a father, and the limelight shines doubly bright. Those than manage to survive it, though, often go on to highly successful college and NBA careers given their uncommon luxury of learning the game firsthand from basketball royalty. As a new generation of young players attempt to follow in their fathers’ footsteps, these five names could loom large over the next era of NBA basketball.

Shareef O’Neal stands on the court during the 2018 Brand Jordan NBA All-Star Uniforms & All-Star Rosters Unveiling show on January 25, 2018 at CBS Studios in Studio City, California.

COLE ANTHONY
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA

Anthony isn’t the son of a Hall of Famer – his father, Greg, was an 11-year role player in the league – but he might make the best pro of any rising second-generation NBA player. At North Carolina, he filled the lottery pick Coby White’s shoes, Anthony is perhaps the most vaunted player joining the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. He possesses a rare combination of speed and power, using a quick first step, physical drives, and electric vertical explosion to constantly put pressure on the rim. He has outstanding vision in the pick-and-roll, already showing the ability to read and pick apart defenses on the move.

Anthony’s physical tools also make him a stout defender at the point of attack. He’s quick enough to slide with ball-handlers and his strong frame yields no ground to what would normally be punishing drives. The college (and eventually pro) game will pose a different physical challenge, one Anthony must meet in the weight room, but he has the build to remain one of the more physically imposing point guards at whatever level he plays.

BRONNY JAMES
SIERRA CANYON HIGH SCHOO L

LeBron James Jr. is already an internet sensation. His highlights have been viewed hundreds of millions of times on YouTube and Instagram, and his basketball exploits have been publicly documented since his early middle school days.

Bronny isn’t and likely won’t be the basketball player his father was as a teenager – placing such expectations upon him would be wildly unfair – but may prove every bit the phenomenon LeBron was in high school. The younger James made news this summer for both his play on the court and his high school enrollment. With LeBron’s move to Los Angeles in the 2018 offseason came Bronny’s accompanying transfer to Sierra Canyon, a high school in Chatsworth (an L.A. neighborhood) that just so happens to be one of the country’s preeminent basketball programs.

LeBron ‘Bronny’ James Jr. #0 of Sierra Canyon High School dribbles the ball up court during the Ohio Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic against St. Vincent-St. Mary High School at Nationwide Arena on December 14, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.

There is (perhaps valid) speculation that the elder James might be prolonging his career in part as a means of becoming teammates with his son in four years, when Bronny would be eligible for the 2023 NBA Draft. Regardless of his dad’s influence, Bronny has a chance to pave his own path to the league. With an impressive combination of shooting, passing and athleticism, his game projects as one that will fit the changing NBA well. He is a better shooter than LeBron was as a teenager, though far from the physical force and play-making savant. With so many tools in his arsenal, the biggest determinant of Bronny’s success may simply be his physical growth. He already stands 6-foot-2 in his early adolescence; if he sprouts to the standard size of an NBA wing, he becomes a whole new force with which his opponents will have to reckon.

LeBron ‘Bronny’ James Jr. with his father LeBron James following the Ohio Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic on December 14, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.

LeBron ‘Bronny’ James Jr. #0 of Sierra Canyon High School dribbles the ball up court during the Ohio Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic against St. Vincent-St. Mary High School at Nationwide Arena on December 14, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.

ZAIRE WADE
SIERRA CANYON HIGH SCHOOL

Wade, a lanky lefty, plays with much of the same smoothness, creativity, and skill his father did. Zaire is clearly a great way from meeting the Hall-of-Fame bar Dwyane set, but he does possess the craft and feel for the game to get his NBA career off the ground a few years from now. His three-point shot might be more developed than his dad’s was at the same age – if for no other reason than the increased importance of the shot in the modern game – and possesses every bit of scoring acumen and creativity you might expect from Flash’s son.

Zaire Wade #2 of Sierra Canyon defends against Prince Aligbe #10 of Minnehaha Academy during the game at Target Center on Jan. 04, 2020 in Minneapolis.

What pops about Wade’s game, however, is his passing. Not only is he able to thread dimes through tight crevices and pinpoint windows the defense can’t see, he’s a willing facilitator for his teammates. He seems to understand when and where teammates will be open, and how to deliver the ball in the most efficient manner possible. At the high school level, that allows Wade to play and feel the game at a different speed than his peers can.

A full three years older than James, Wade might currently be the better player (though likely not the better prospect) and could play a larger role on this season’s stacked Sierra Canyon squad. Still, Wade has yet to generate much buzz from college programs, as he doesn’t possess the same physicality or creativity as a scorer his father did at the same size. Wade’s upcoming senior season will serve as an important proving ground for his college outlook.

Zaire Wade #2 of Sierra Canyon defends against Prince Aligbe #10 of Minnehaha Academy during the game at Target Center on Jan. 04, 2020 in Minneapolis.

Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat exchanges jerseys with his son, Zaire, after the final regular season home game of his career at American Airlines Arena on April 09, 2019 in Miami, Florida.

SCOTTY PIPPEN JR.
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

Pippen doesn’t garner nearly the fanfare that James or Wade do, nor is he as dominant on the court as Anthony and O’Neal are. But much like his father, Scottie, he is steady, solid and versatile, and has a viable path to the NBA nonetheless. Pippen, also a Sierra Canyon product, committed to Vanderbilt after a breakout performance at the Les Schwab invitational that earned him tournament MVP honors and figures to play meaningful minutes for the Commodores this season.

Standing at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Pippen plays quick and low to the ground, running his team’s offense with poise and opportunism. He sees the court extremely well, constantly scouting for passing windows, and has outstanding forward burst and vertical explosion. Like most every player on this list, he has excellent feel and a mind for the finer points of the game. While he prefers to distribute and facilitate, Pippen can capably shoot both off the catch and off the dribble – a weapon that has become more prevalent and necessary for lead guards in the Steph Curry era – though he could stand to become a more consistent shooter. Pippen lacks the ball-hawking defensive playmaking skills father had (the vast majority of defenders do) and lacks Scottie’s versatility due simply to his smaller frame. Still, Scotty shares both literal and basketball DNA with one of the greatest defenders of all time, and possesses some of the same instincts and athletic traits.

While Pippen doesn’t currently project as the same sort of prospect Anthony, O’Neal, or James does, it’s easy to see his upside and a viable path to the NBA, provided he plays up to expectations at Vanderbilt.

SHAREEF O’NEAL

Shaquille O’Neal’s oldest son red-shirted his first year at UCLA due to a heart surgery that cost him the entire season, but entered the 2019-20 season healthy and prepared to play. While not as powerful or post-oriented as his legendary father, Shareef O’Neal is among the most skilled and athletically gifted big men in college or high school basketball and a potentially ideal combo big in the modern NBA. (O’Neal’s other son, Shaqir, is a lanky 6-foot-5 guard who shares many physical and athletic traits with Shareef.)

At 6-foot-9, 215 pounds, O’Neal is an electric finisher at the rim and an outstanding shooter for his size. As more and more big men are able to these days, he can capably handle the ball and create his own shot from anywhere on the floor, and he has the mobility and explosiveness to guard most positions on defense. Though he projects to play mostly as a power forward or center, O’Neal’s versatility could theoretically allow him to occasionally slot in on the wing – especially early in his NBA career, when he’ll likely spend most possessions with-out the ball in his hands. Still, there is far more to O’Neal’s game than the mere fact of his last name, and the rest of the basketball world could soon find out why.

O’Neal will take his talents to Louisiana State University, his father’s alma mater, next season.

SCOUTING THE NEXT WAVE OF COACHING TALE

by SEAN DEVENEY

Crunching numbers into the morning’s wee hours. Scouring game film until the sun begins to rise. Spending sweaty hours working with the team’s 12th man, trying to smooth out his footwork or his jumper or a new post move.

The bulk of coaching basketball is not about glory. It’s about the sweat and diligence that comes before those few occasional glorious moments, whether it’s on a pro bench or as head coach in a collegiate program. For five rising young coaches, all with the opportunity to move up in the NBA and NCAA, that work has been getting noticed.

JARRON COLLINS
“I LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PROFESSIONAL”

Jarron Collins considers himself lucky. He was among the final players cho-sen in the 2001 draft, 53rd overall, a draft position that seldom yields a fruitful career. Collins never posted impressive numbers (he averaged 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds), but he stuck around the league for 10 seasons.

That was, in part, because Collins started his career with the Jazz, a franchise that taught him how best to approach his time in the league.

Jarron Collins, assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors, during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on November 1, 2016 at Moda Center in Portland, Oregon.

“I was fortunate in that I started by career with John Stockton and Karl Malone, playing for Jerry Sloan,” said Collins, now an assistant with Golden State. “I learned the importance of being professional and doing things in that manner. Because your reputation will go places you will never go. You handle yourself appropriately, take care of your business, it may pay dividends down the road.”

That’s how it went for Collins, who spent the 2009-10 season with the Suns after eight years in Utah. He didn’t play much for Phoenix, logging 7.7 minutes in 34 games, but he left an impression on the team’s general manager at the time—Steve Kerr.

Five years later, when Kerr was named head coach of the Warriors, Kerr brought him on as the team’s player development coach. In his first season on the bench, Golden State won the NBA championship.

Collins was moved from player development to an assistant, but he says titles like that don’t matter much. All coaches on Kerr’s bench share duties.
“On our staff, everybody is responsible for doing scouting and having a voice,” Collins said. “That’s one of the things I appreciate about Steve. He allows all his coaches to have a voice and do presentations and do walk-throughs when it’s your time. It’s like players do reps and get better that way, but coaches get reps, too, and you get better the more repetitions you do.”

That’s important for Collins, who has designs on running his own staff eventually. He interviewed for the Memphis head-coaching job last year and the Atlanta job before that. He did not get either, but he recognizes the value in the experience.

“Interviewing for head-coaching opportunities is always tremendous,” Collins said. “I am definitely very fortunate and appreciative of the opportunities to be in those rooms—it’s only going to benefit me down the road.”

REX KALAMIAN
“THERE’S SO MANY INFLUENCES I’VE BEEN LUCKY TO HAVE”

Rex Kalamian was coaching at tiny East Los Angeles College, where he had recently played as a guard, in 1992 when he got a break, a chance to work in the NBA. There was a downside, though: the job was with the lowly Clippers, notorious penny-pinchers at the time. Kalamian’s assignment was on a game-night basis only, helping out coach Larry Brown and his staff.

Two years later, he was hired to be the team’s video coordinator under coach Bill Fitch, who liked his work ethic so much that he soon made Kalamian an assistant coach.

Assistant Coach Rex Kalamian and Montrezl Harrell #5 of the LA Clippers talk during a game against the Golden State Warriors on January 18, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.

“I didn’t really know it at the time, how big that opportunity was,” Kalamian said. “It changed my life. Then Bill just became such a big influence in me staying in the league and learning how to coach.”

Things were tumultuous for the Clippers of that era, yet Kalamian remained with the team in some capacity through 2003, working for seven head coaches in that span. He finally left L.A., coaching Denver, Minnesota, Sacramento, Oklahoma City and Toronto over the next decade-and-a-half and working under the likes of George Karl, Scott Brooks and Dwane Casey, forging a reputation for player development work.

“There’s so many influences I’ve been lucky to have,” Kalamian said. “The guys I’ve worked for, they’ve all been Coach of the Year, they all are very accomplished coaches. I would say I’ve probably taken a little bit from each guy.”

Now, Kalamian has come full circle. He’s back with the Clippers, joining Doc Rivers’ staff last year as defensive coordinator. Under owner Steve Ballmer, the franchise has changed drastically in terms of culture and approach. But the biggest change is expectations: The Clippers are among the favorites to go to the NBA Finals. That could eventually lead to a head-coaching job, but that’s not where Kalamian is focused.

“The future is about the Clippers and what happens right now,” he said. “Trying to win a championship. To me that is the focus because teams that win, coaches that win, good things happen to them.”

NIELE IVEY
“SHE JUST HAS IT"

Jaden Ivey is one of the top prospects in the Class of 2020, a guard for Indiana’s LaLumiere School. He has committed to Purdue but conceded that when it comes to the family hoops tree, he’s not the top branch. That still belongs to his mom, Niele Ivey—a star and national championship winner as a player, rated as one of the best assistant coaches in the NCAA while spending 12 years on Muffett McGraw’s staff at Notre Dame.

“Yeah, my mom is the one who motivates me,” Jaden said recently. “All the success she has had and where she is now, it’s what I want to do.”
Niele Ivey made the leap last summer from the Fighting Irish bench to Memphis, to join coach Taylor Jenkins’ staff. The Grizzlies have been the biggest surprise team in the league, entering this season expected to finish in the cellar as the franchise undergoes a rebuilding program.

Ivey earned a reputation as a teacher at Notre Dame, both as a coach and in her time as a point guard who averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists from 1996 to 2001. Ivey played in the WNBA for five seasons after that.

When Ivey was inducted into Notre Dame’s Ring of Honor in 2016, former play-er Skylar Diggins said of her, “She led by example. If you didn’t know how to do this and that, ‘OK, let me see the ball. Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom—that’s how you do it. She’d get out there and play with us, it was something you can’t really teach. She just has it.”

That hands-on teaching approach made her an ideal fit for the young Grizzlies, who had rookie point guard Ja Morant and star big man Jaren Jackson Jr., both just 20 years old—not much older than her son. This would be a group in need of teaching. That was one reason Ivey had interest in the job.

“Taylor, sitting down and talking with him about his vision, he’s really big on fostering a competitive, unselfish, positive environment for his players,” Ivey told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “He’s very development-oriented.”

Turns out the development has happened quicker than expected. Far from the cellar, the Grizzlies are in the mix for a playoff spot in the West and Morant is the favorite for Rookie of the Year. As a fellow point guard, Ivey is playing whatever role she can in that.

“She’s given me some corrections with my game,” Morant said. “Getting to certain spots on the floor. And she’ll tell me I corrected it and she’s proud.”

LINDSAY GOTTLIEB
“I AM REPRESENTING MORE THAN JUST MYSELF”

Of all the glittering elements on her resume, the biggest for coach Lindsay Gottlieb may be this: She’s been to the Final Four. Not as a player or as an assistant. No, Gottlieb got there as a head coach, when she led California to the Final Four for the first time in school history in 2013.

Not many NBA assistants have head-coaching experience in the NCAA and none, other than Gottlieb, have been to a Final Four. That was one reason that John Beilein, himself the former coach at Michigan, wanted Gottlieb on his staff when he took the job as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“She’s been a winner, her whole career,” Beilein said. “When you go to a place that hasn’t been winning and you change that, that says a lot about a coach.”
Gottlieb became the league’s eighth female assistant coach last spring, leaving her mark as one of the most successful active coaches in the women’s game. She began her head-coaching career at 30 years old, guiding UC-Santa Barbara to a 22-10 record. Three years later, she got the job at California, where the Bears went 32-4 in her second season.

Her Cal teams won 20-plus games and reached the NCAA tournament in seven of eight seasons, and her overall head-coaching record at the end of last year was 179-89.

Gottlieb did not get into basketball to coach. She was recruited by Brown as a guard, but a knee injury limited her ability to contribute on the court. So she began helping her teammates from the bench. Her teammates at Brown nicknamed Gottlieb, ‘Coach,’ and by her senior year, she was a de facto part of Brown’s staff, serving as a player-coach.

Now, Gottlieb is helping to bring along the young Cavaliers. She concedes that there’s pressure attached to her position, but that pressure does not come from Beilein or any of the team’s players. It mostly comes from herself.

“I have seen it as, I am representing more than just myself,” Gottlieb said. “I want there to be more women coaches after me. So the decisions I make and the things I do, I have to look at it that way. It does add pressure. I want to be successful so that more women will get chances to coach at this level.”

BOBBY HURLEY
“THE FIRE WAS THERE TO COACH”

It was the fall of 2000 and Bobby Hurley thought he might have one more comeback. The No. 7 pick in the 1993 draft and one of the most accomplished players in NCAA history, Hurley’s career had been limited after he nearly died in a car crash a few months after his league debut.

He’d had surgery to fix his ACL and was expected to try out for Boston. But the knee was still not right and Hurley, reluctantly, retired at age 29.
It was difficult on him. Hurley tried to shift is focus. He got into thoroughbred racing, owning two horses he raced in New Jersey and Florida.

Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts during the first half of the college basketball game against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center on January 12, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona.

“I wasn’t able to retire on my own terms, to leave on my own terms,” Hurley said. “That was frustrating. So I needed to get away. It was not like I never watched—I was watching close, college basketball, the NBA. But I needed to have some other life experiences. Doing that gave me the time I needed to work through getting over the finish of my playing career.”

A decade later, Hurley returned to competitive basketball as a coach. He was from a family of coaches, starting with his father, Bob Hurley Sr., who won 26 state championships in 39 years coaching at St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey. When his brother, Dan Hurley, got the head coaching job at Wagner in 2010, Bobby joined the staff.

“I just had an open mind,” Hurley said. “I was ready for a fresh challenge. I kind of knew deep down that I wanted to coach, that I always wanted to coach, it was such a big part of my life, watching my dad do it and seeing my brother do it. The fire was there to coach.”

From that modest beginning, Hurley has built a budding career. His first head-coaching gig came at the University of Buffalo, where he guided the Bulls to their first-ever NCAA tournament. He left Buffalo after that showing, taking the reins at Arizona State in 2015.

Hurley’s Sun Devils won 20-plus games the past two seasons, getting the school back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014. That’s been especially rewarding considering the way his playing career ended, considering the time off he needed to heal emotionally.

“I just have so much more appreciation for what the game of basketball has done for my life,” Hurley said. “Not having it for those years when I was not coaching or playing, there was a void there. Getting the chance to work with the kids I work with now, it has really replaced that void.”

NBA PLAYERS ARE INCREASINGLY STARTING THEIR MEDIA CAREERS WHILE THEY’RE STILL PLAYING IN THE LEAGUE

by CALEB FRIEDMAN

The summer of 2019 provided an NBA free-agent frenzy unlike any we’ve seen in a long time. Shortly after winning an NBA Championship and Finals MVP award with the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. The team also signed Paul George, and Twitter be-gan exploding.

Bill Simmons, founder of The Ringer and formerly of ESPN and Grantland, considered the news as potential for furthering his family of podcasts.

In discussing the Clippers’ prospects with Leonard and George, Simmons suggested adding Andre Iguodala to the roster. The move, he claimed, would make basketball sense for Los Angeles, but also includes a self-serving reason for Simmons:he believes Iguadola would make a great podcast host for The Ringer, which is based on Los Angeles.

“I have selfish reasons for this one,” Simmons says on his podcast while speaking to Marc Stein of the New York Times. “I’m announcing it, it’s 11:25 here on the West Coast. If Andre Iguodola comes to the Clippers, I’m giving him a Ringer podcast.”

The Ringer, which is known for its podcasts, has experienced great success with player-driven podcasts, where players—as opposed to journalists or pundits with years of media experience—drive the conversation to give insight into the life of an NBA player. For publications and players alike, the relationship afforded by a podcast is mutually-beneficial; the publications get exclusive and informative details that all reporters covet, and current players get valuable media experience that gives them the reputation to jumpstart careers in media in their post-playing days.

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors speaks to Bill Simmons after Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 8, 2018 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

“That’s the way of the future,” former NBA player Shawn Marion said of player-driven content. “A lot of times when you’re a fan, you’d rather hear it from a player perspective…Living and going through something is different than going through and watching it on TV.”

For instance, Quentin Richardson, a former NBA three-point champion who played 13 seasons in the league, hosts the Knuckleheads podcast with his former teammate Darius Miles for The Players’ Tribune. Richardson said being a current or former player helps build trust with other players early in interviews, which helps create an authentic and interesting conversation.

“It’s a small fraternity of us, we’re some of the only people who are privileged to the things we go through,” Richardson said. “So when I ask a Kevin Durant or a Dwyane Wade questions, we’re relating on a different level than our listeners can, and we’re letting them inside the locker room and inside what we think and how we see things.”

While established media publications often provide a ready-made framework and infrastructure for players to work in, some players are opt-ing to take a more entrepreneurial approach and start their own media entities.

LeBron James, for example, owns Uninterrupted, a digital video company that brings athlete-driven content to fans directly. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, owns Thirty Five Ventures, which has a media wing that produces original content across several online and social platforms.

Regardless of the exact form, NBA players are increasingly taking con-trol of their own content while still playing, which allows them to harness their current connections in the league and use them to build their media profile and personal brand. More than ever before, players are starting their post-playing careers while still playing, making the transition from playing to retirement smoother than ever.

Shawn Marion looks on during Game Two of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.

In response to the changing media landscape, the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) has committed itself to providing programs and services to help Legends navigate the complex digital world. The NBRPA launched Legends Live to provide an outlet for retired players to have an online voice and contribute to the conversation on social media. Great importance is placed on assisting Legends in the digital space and the NBRPA is committed to expanding these opportunities in the future.

“A LOT OF TIMES WHEN YOU’RE A FAN, YOU’D RATHER HEAR IT FROM A PLAYER PERSPECTIVE…LIVING AND GOING THROUGH SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT THAN GOING THROUGH AND WATCHING IT ON TV.”
-- Shawn Marion

THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF FORMER NBA COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN

David Joel Stern was born on Sept. 22, 1942. His father, William, ran Stern’s Deli in Manhattan, where David often worked as he grew up. He spent most of his childhood in Teaneck, New Jersey, which was the first Northern suburb to vote in favor of busing in order to support integrated schools. Such a background molded a foundation that fostered both an open mind and an open heart in David Stern.

After graduating from Rutgers University, Stern went on to earn his J.D. from Columbia Law School. His very first involvement with the NBA came during his time at Proskauer, Rose, Goetz & Mendelsohn, the firm that represented the league. After years of working alongside the NBA, Stern joined the in-house team in 1978 as general counsel under Commissioner Larry O’Brien. It was a time that saw the league severely lacking.

Just two years later, Stern was promoted to executive vice president and immediately started making waves. One of his first major decisions in the role was to implement a drug-testing policy, a first for any major sports league in North America. Additionally, salary caps were adopted in order to assist smaller market teams. This decision ultimately stabilized the league, priming it for future growth.

When Stern rose to the role of Commissioner in 1984, the NBA was falling behind the NFL and MLB in both broadcast numbers and revenue. The two other leagues were also in the midst of strategies that ultimately muted their players as individuals, rather than empowered them.

Magic Johnson, NBA Commissioner David Stern and Michael Jordan pose with the Gold Medal following the game between the USA and Croatia at the 1992 Olympics on August 8 1992 at the Palau Municipal d’Esports de badalona in Barcelona, Spain. The USA defeated Croatia 117-85 to win the gold medal.

Stern did not believe in these same strategies.

Instead, Stern recognized the intrinsic value each player brought to the league, and embraced the opportunity to highlight the talent and popularity of the NBA greats that had come to grace the hardwood. He introduced the league’s licensing and sponsorship division, which led efforts to align NBA players and personalities with some of the top companies in the world.

His dedication to empowering NBA stars created a space where American basketball superstars were akin to their international football counterparts – both Jordan and Pelé were household names around the world. In turn, the NBA and the sport of basketball continued to rise to elite global recognition.
The efforts Stern took to globalize the league are countless. In 1990, he spearheaded the first regular-season game of any major North American sport to be played outside of the continent. When it was announced that professional athletes would be permitted to participate in the Olympics, Stern jumped at the opportunity to put his stars on the world’s biggest stage, creating what we now know as the Dream Team. Under his supervision, seven new franchises – including two in Canada – were welcomed in to the league. Agreements were made to televise games in more than 200 countries, and NBA offices were opened in 15 new cities outside of the United States.

In 1997 Stern created the WNBA, which is now considered the pioneering league for female athletes in the world to this day as it is the longest-standing women’s professional sports league. In 2001, he created the developmental league, now known as the G League, as the NBA’s official minor league basketball organization. The new venture began with just eight franchises; in 2020, it will have 29.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and David Stern attend the “Kareem: Minority Of One” New York Premiere at Time Warner Center on October 26, 2015 in New York City.

Stern’s success in growing the NBA was built on a foundation of marketing genius. When he took over as Commissioner in 1984, the league’s television rights were sold for an average of $28 million annually. Over the course of his tenure, that number increased nearly 40 times over, to $930 million annually.
David Stern was, simply put, well ahead of his time. He consumed the world around him – not just sports business. He understood the role sport plays in society, and recognized the broad reach it has in influencing every aspect of life. Perhaps no better example of this came in 1991, when Magic Johnson announced that he had been diagnosed with HIV.

Prior to the 1991-92 season, a routine physical delivered HIV positive results for Los Angeles Lakers superstar Magic Johnson. Stern, who was well-informed in nearly all facets, understood the disease much better than most of the general public at this time. Stern stood by Johnson, and supported the star throughout his announcement to retire and pursue his new mission of informing the world about the disease. Stern’s position helped advance the acceptance of people with HIV, therefore touching lives far beyond the basketball court.

Stern was not without his challenges, of course. During his time as Commissioner, he faced two lockouts (1998-99, 2011-12), both of which saw significant cancellations for each season. The infamous Malice at the Palace brawl saw Stern hand down the heaviest suspensions the league had ever seen. In 2007, the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal broke, sending the sports world reeling. Other obstacles, such as the poor reception of a player dress code, tested Stern’s leadership. Each time, Stern came back a stronger and more knowledgeable Commissioner.

David Stern was a fierce leader with relentless vision and unrefuted genius. He truly solidified the NBA as a global superpower, leaving behind a storied legacy for generations to come.

Because of David, amateurs can continue to hone their skills in the G League. Because of David, women can pursue their passion for the game professionally. Because of David, we have a league that represents far more than sport. Because of David, we can all proudly stand together to celebrate the game we love.