Current Stars, Legends Reflect on NBA China Games

As part of the NBA China Games, the NBRPA, along with current and former players, seized the opportunity to visit Shanghai and Shenzhen and see first-hand the growing influence the NBA and its players have on the global stage. Current stars and Legends, Jermaine O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, Julius Erving, Jim Jackson, Caron Butler, Sam Perkins and Michael Finley, joined forces for a week-long trip that combined the history, passion and culture of China into an unforgettable experience.

“It was a great experience,” Butler said. “Being amongst so many of the all-time greats and to be able to enjoy that camaraderie and share this experience with them was incredible.”

The reaction to the NBA’s arrival in China was spectacular. The energy, size of crowds and the pure joy and excitement from the thousands of fans that welcomed the NBA’s arrival to their city was something that had to be witnessed first-hand.

“I’ve traveled so much internationally on behalf of the NBA, so I see a lot of it,” said Butler. “It amazes you when you are there in it. No one can describe what it is like. You need to be there, in the moment, to truly get a sense of the magnitude.”

As part of the trip, the Legends took part in a series of fan and partner events. Fan Appreciation Day, which took place in Shanghai, gave fans the chance to interact with their favorite NBA stars and Legends in a game-like atmosphere. For Butler, who has been to China and overseas numerous times on behalf of the association, said that this experience was really special.

“I think it’s important to honor and pay respects to the legacy of the game and the people that paved the way,” Butler said. “From my experience this year in China, it’s pretty special to see the wealth of young talent that recognizes the history of this game.”

The growth of the NBA on a global scale can’t go unnoticed; the impact…undeniable. From an international perspective, the focus has shifted to youth and growth in key regions around the world. The game’s international appeal, combined with the NBA’s savviness and forward-thinking, have combined to create a fan base in China that is hungry for more basketball.

“Every time I go to China, I see the intensity and wealth of fans over there,” said Butler. “It continues to grow and there is no indication of declining. The production was amazing. It was impressive to see the display of production by the Association.”

For the Legends to continue to be a part of the game and events like this is special. But above all, the most rewarding part was seeing the reaction from fans and the joy that they can bring to people. Nothing was more special than that.

“To see the faces of those young people, the fun that they were having, it reemphasizes why we do what we do,” said Jackson. “To be a part of that and to still feel like we are making an impact is an incredible feeling and something I want to continue doing.”

NBRPA, NASA Join Forces to Create Immersive Program for Former Players

Chicago, IL (Nov. 28, 2018) – The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) has partnered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center to give former players the opportunity to identify and pursue commercialization of patented NASA technologies.

The program will center on entrepreneurship and give former NBA, WNBA, ABA and Harlem Globetrotters players the chance to work collaboratively with NASA engineers to expose NBRPA members to NASA patented technologies and address questions related to potential commercial applications.

“This partnership is the first of its kind and is an incredible opportunity for former players,” said Eric McGill, NASA Senior Technology Manager, who will lend his 15 years of experience in entrepreneurship, research and development to expose new technologies to NBRPA members. “Giving players the chance to immerse themselves in our state-of-the-art technology and learn from the world’s best engineers is truly unheard of.”

“This innovative collaboration is a win-win for NASA and the NBRPA that will provide opportunities for NBRPA entrepreneurs to develop strategies for commercialization through creation of technology startup companies to better our economy,” says Dennis Small, NASA’s NBRPA Project Manager.

“This is a game-changer for our association,” said NBRPA President and CEO Scott Rochelle. “By partnering with NASA and giving our players access to these resources, players will be given a serious leg up when it comes to entrepreneurial, investment and technology opportunities.”

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Media Contact:
Brad Shulkin
Brad.shulkin@kemperlesnik.com
847.894.1808

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. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Spencer Haywood, Vice Chairman Dwight Davis, Treasurer Casey Shaw, Secretary Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, Grant Hill, Johnny Davis, David Naves, Sam Perkins, Eldridge Recasner, Jerome Williams.

NBA Retired Players Get an Assist: Expanded Access to Professional Development, Career Development and Education Services

Huntington, NY (Nov. 5, 2018) – AthLife® announces an expansion of services to former NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotter players through a partnership with the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA).  The expanded services are aimed at providing membership with extended one­-to­-one advising related to professional development, career development, and educational advising support.

“Furthering our partnership with AthLife provides a benefit to our members that strikes at the core of our mission, which is to assist our membership with their transition to life beyond their playing days”, says Scott Rochelle, President and CEO of the NBRPA.

AthLife was formed in 2004 to service the education, career development, and life skill needs of athletes.  With the support of an AthLife Advisor, professional and post­professional athletes are empowered to build their skills in the areas of professional development including career exploration, education planning, goal setting, resume building, networking and interviewing.  AthLife’s approach is to guide the client through a process that builds skills and confidence, thus enabling them to assume control over their ongoing career development.

“Former NBA players have so much to offer the workforce and their communities.  When their playing career comes to an end, some need guidance as to how they can shift their focus and leverage skills from being the best in the world at one profession to building towards a successful career in another.  AthLife Advisors work with former players to first identify, then build and promote fundamental skills and knowledge in areas where they have a passion so they can take on new career challenges.” says Jon Harris, President and Founder of AthLife. 

Currently, AthLife also has service agreements with the NFL Players Association, The Trust (powered by the NFLPA), NBA Players Legacy Fund, WWE, Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Union to assist their constituency with career development and continuing education needs.

Athlife Inc.| Huntington, NY | www.athlife.com Contact: Jon Harris |info@athlife.com|631.385.1946

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. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Spencer Haywood, Vice Chairman Dwight Davis, Treasurer Casey Shaw, Secretary Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, Johnny Davis, David Naves, Sam Perkins, Eldridge Recasner, Jerome Williams.

NBRPA Supports Former Players Through NBA Licensing Partnership

 CHICAGO (Sept. 27, 2018) – The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) today announced their continued support of former National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) players through the NBRPA’s Licensing Partnership with the league.  The agreement, which provides licensing revenue and transition programming to former athletes, includes the rights to profits generated from the sale of apparel, game footage, jerseys, trading cards, collectibles and video games, among other items.  The amount of licensing revenue given to former basketball players has increased year-over-year, with a 294 percent growth since 2010.

“We are thrilled to work with the NBA on this initiative and give our players increased opportunities for additional licensing revenue,” said NBRPA President and CEO Scott Rochelle.  “We will continue to work with the NBA to ensure more of our players are represented under this agreement.”

Royalties accrued through the program will be paid directly to NBRPA members.  Former players who choose to opt in to the program will also receive partial NBRPA benefits, including access to paid opportunities, transition services, health benefits, educational programs and career development.

The NBRPA is the official alumni association for former NBA and WNBA players and the only organization of its kind that is directly supported by both the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). Former professional basketball players can participate in the NBRPA’s Licensing Partnership with the NBA by signing the NBRPA authorization form.  To obtain an authorization form, please email info@legendsofbasketball.com or call the NBRPA main office at 312.913.9400.  

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Media Contact:

Brad Shulkin
Brad.shulkin@kemperlesnik.com
847.894.1808

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. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Spencer Haywood, Vice Chairman Dwight Davis, Treasurer Casey Shaw, Secretary Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, Johnny Davis, David Naves, Sam Perkins, Eldridge Recasner, Jerome Williams.

Gene Conley (1930-2017)

Gene Conley has passed away at age 86. He was just one of two athletes to have earned a championship in two major professional sports. He pitched for the World Series champion Milwaukee Braves in 1957 before going on to win three championships with the Boston Celtics (1959-1961). Conley played 18 professional seasons over 12 years, often playing in the NBA during MLB’s offseason. He is survived by his wife, Kathryn Dizney; two daughters; a son; a sister; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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. Scott Rochelle is Acting President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Newman, Vice Chairman Spencer Haywood, Treasurer Casey Shaw, Secretary Nancy Lieberman, Dwight Davis, Mike Glenn, Rick Barry, James Donaldson, LaRue Martin Jr., David Naves and Eldridge Recasner.

Darrall Imhoff (1938-2017)

University of California legend, Darrall Imhoff has passed away. He was 78. Imhoff won an NCAA Championship playing for the Bears in 1959. Just one year later, he captured an Olympic Gold medal with Team USA during the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, a team that was later inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Following his illustrious collegiate career, Imhoff was selected third overall in the 1960 NBA Draft to the New York Knicks. His NBA career spanned 12 years, with stints at the Detroit Pistons, LA Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Cincinnati Royals and Portland Trail Blazers.

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. Scott Rochelle is Acting President and CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Johnny Newman, Vice Chairman Spencer Haywood, Treasurer Casey Shaw, Secretary Nancy Lieberman, Dwight Davis, Mike Glenn, Rick Barry, James Donaldson, LaRue Martin Jr., David Naves, and Eldridge Recasner.

Legends Spotlight: Tom Hoover

Last weekend the National Basketball Retired Players Association hosted the latest edition of its youth basketball and mentoring program called “Full Court Press: Prep for Success”. Several former NBA/WNBA standouts were in attendance at the Edward Byrne Center in Jamaica, NY, as well as an NBA Fit clinic as a part of Dew3X event at Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, NY, including Tiny Archibald/Tony Campbell/Teresa Edwards/Kym Hampton/Tom Hoover/Bobby Hunter/Albert King/Harthorne Wingo/Sam Worthen. The Full Court Press program travels all over the country to introduce kids to positive role models in both basketball and life. NBRPA writer Jon Teitel has spent time talking with many of the greatest players in NBA/WNBA history and will share his interviews at LegendsofBasketball.com. Jon visited with Tom Hoover about his role with the Full Court Press program and his work as president of the NBRPA’s New York chapter.

How do you try to connect with the kids on the court? That is the easiest part! Kids are always looking for that person who has done something that they are trying to achieve: it is very alluring if the person happens to be a former star player. If you just look the kids in the face then there will be no issues.

What do you hope that the kids get out of this great experience? We had some guys with championships like Tony Campbell who taught the kids about preparing yourself mentally to play the game. The game is a carrot but the key is education: you have to graduate, start your career, and do something positive with your life.

What was your transition like going from active player to retired player? It was easy back in the day if you were honest with yourself, but if you thought that you could continue the journey forever you would learn that nothing lasts. It is easy to accept reality once you realize that you cannot do the things that you used to do: you start breaking down and it takes longer to heal. When the young guys run right past you then you know it is time: just like the Cleveland Cavaliers!

You currently serve as president of the New York Chapter of the NBRPA: why did you take the job and what have you been able to accomplish so far? I was on the board and when they moved the national office from New York to Chicago I felt that New York needed its own chapter. We go into the community and work on wholesome projects as a way of giving back: Christmas parties for kids with AIDS, Thanksgiving parties for survivors of domestic violence, and we also went to the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, to do a clinic for the kids who survived that tragedy in 2012. We have a food pantry in Red Hook that gives food to the needy and we partnered with an organization in Senegal to send food/educational materials overseas and raise money for solar panels.

You went to Archbishop Carroll High School in DC, where you partnered with future Hall of Fame coach John Thompson and future Notre Dame president Edward “Monk” Malloy to help win 55 straight games: could you tell at the time that you and your teammates were going to achieve even bigger and better things? You cannot tell for sure because life is funny: you just have to keep opening doors and keep going in the right direction. Who could have known that Monk/John would become as successful as they have? I remember when John got his 1st coaching job at St. Anthony High School in DC: we laughed and wondered if he would really do it.

What made you choose Villanova for college, and how did you like it? We had a priest in high school who taught mechanical engineering and he convinced me that Villanova was the place to go. I had a good time there: it is a good school.

In the spring of 1963 you were drafted 6th overall by Syracuse (4 spots ahead of Gus Johnson): did you see that as a validation of your college career, or the realization of a lifelong dream of reaching the NBA, or other? It meant that I did not have to work the midnight shift at a paper company in Philly! I had become close with Wilt Chamberlain and he told me about what to expect if I got drafted.

You made the 1966 NBA Finals as a player for the Lakers: how close did you come to winning the title (2-PT loss in Game 7 at Boston Garden)? When you played in Boston there were all kinds of things to worry about such as the locker rooms. It was a Sunday afternoon and we all thought that we could win the game but it did not go in our favor.

In 1967 you joined the ABA: why did you make the switch, and what was the biggest difference between the 2 leagues? I made the switch because I was making $15,000 with the Lakers and Denver offered me $30,000. There was no difference in terms of talent with Hall of Famers like Mel Daniels/Connie Hawkins. The ABA ball was a little lighter and they also had a 3-PT line.

After retiring you had a number of fascinating jobs:
a. You worked as a road manager for Richard Pryor: did you just hang out all day laughing at everything that came out of his mouth? A road manager is like a babysitter: you are the last guy to go to bed and the 1st guy to wake up in the morning. Hanging out with Richard was crazy: trying to be civil just did not work! 1 time we were on the East Coast getting ready to fly back to LA and he was screaming at me to hold the plane because he was on the way. He did not understand that airlines leave without waiting for people who are running late: he was nuts.
b. You spent some time as an actor in television commercials: did you hope that it would turn into a long-term 2nd career? It was just for fun. You have to know your limitations: I was lucky enough to get a check but I was not an actor.
c. You also worked for the New York State Athletic Commission: are you a big boxing fan, and are you picking Mayweather or McGregor this summer?! I rose through the organization to become a deputy chairman before leaving last year. I do not have either guy: it is just a pay-per-view sham because Floyd wants to get paid but does not want to mess up his perfect record.

DALLAS WINGS HONORED SPORTS LEGEND NANCY LIEBERMAN AT JUNE 11 GAME

ARLINGTON, TX – The Dallas Wings honored basketball Hall of Famer and legend Nancy Lieberman on Sunday, June 11 during the team’s game against the Minnesota Lynx. Nancy is a true pioneer and cultural changer for women in sports. Her resume includes WNBA player and assisting coach of The Sacramento Kings, general manager, sports caster, author, speaker and two-time Olympian. Lieberman is also a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, The New York, Virginia and Hampton Roads Hall of Fames.

Lieberman’s basketball ties to Dallas include being the first draft pick for the Women’s Professional Basketball League Dallas Diamonds in 1981. In 1984, she led them to the WABA Championship and then served as the head coach of the NWBL, where she led the team to the championship in 2006. In 2009, she made history as the first female head coach in the NBA when she was appointed to lead the Texas Legends, the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA D-League team, a team she took to the playoffs in her first year. In 1997 – at the age of 39 – Nancy came out of retirement and was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury during the inaugural season of the Women’s National Basketball Association. She became the oldest player to ever play in the league. In 2008, Lieberman broke her own record when she returned to the WNBA for one game with the Detroit Shock at the age of 50.

In addition to advocating for women’s sports and the advancement of women in leadership, Nancy dedicates her time and skills to underserved youth through Nancy Lieberman Charities, which provides college scholarships to high school seniors, Dream Courts™ across the nation where kids can play safely and interact with their peers, provides laptops for children around the country and has basketball camps where over 3.9 million children have attended her camps and clinics in 37 years. Her work as an analyst for ESPN/ABC and an author of several books has helped her reach even more sports fans.

WNBA President Lisa Borders and Dallas Wings President and CEO Greg Bibb recognized Nancy on court during halftime with a special presentation. Nancy’s philanthropy and her hall of fame career was throughout the game along with personal tributes from Dallas Wings players and coaches.

The Dallas Wings were offering $10 tickets in honor of Nancy’s #10 Phoenix Mercury jersey. Tickets were available in select sections using the promo code NANCYLDW10. Season memberships, ticket packages and individual tickets were available at dallaswings.com and by calling 817-469-9464.

About the Dallas Wings
The Dallas Wings are one of twelve professional teams in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The team was founded in Detroit Michigan in 1998 as the Detroit Shock. After 12 years and three championships (2003, 2006 and 2008), the team moved to Tulsa, where they were known as the Tulsa Shock. In 2016, the team played their first season in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as the Dallas Wings. The Wings play home games at College Park Center, a state-of-the-art facility located on the University of Texas at Arlington campus in Arlington, TX.

About Nancy Lieberman Charities
Nancy Lieberman Charities was established in 2009 with the mission to provide a healthy physical, emotional and mental environment for young girls and boys to build their self-esteem and confidence so they will be able to make the right choices in the future. Nancy Lieberman is dedicated to expanding and ensuring that educational and sports opportunities exist for youth through her basketball camps and clinics, Dream Court projects, college scholarships, backpack and laptop programs. nancyliebermancharities.org

Legends Spotlight: AJ English, Jessie Hicks and Johnny Newman

Last Saturday the National Basketball Retired Players Association hosted the latest edition of its youth basketball and mentoring program called “Full Court Press: Prep for Success”. Several former NBA/WNBA standouts were in attendance at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center in Richmond including Johnny Newman/Terry Davis/AJ English/Jesse Hicks. The program travels all over the country to introduce kids to positive role models in both basketball and life. NBRPA writer Jon Teitel has spent time talking with many of the greatest players in NBA/WNBA history and will share his interviews at LegendsofBasketball.com. Jon visited with a few of the above players about their roles with the Full Court Press program and their past basketball successes.

AJ English
What is your coaching philosophy on the court? I just try to teach the fundamentals before I know what the kids are capable of, and once I figure out their skill level I tailor it to that.

What do you hope that the kids get out of this great experience? I hope they learn the importance of working hard and not taking short cuts. If they pay attention and are coachable, they will become better.

What were the best/worst parts of going from active to retired? The best part is getting to stay in shape despite having a different level of conditioning. However, I definitely missed the camaraderie of my teammates because everyone has their own lives after they retire.

How did you end up as a member of the National Basketball Retired Players Association? I was interested in some of the things they were doing with youth. I operate a youth program myself and I like to give back in that capacity to kids who are dealing with similar situations to what I saw while growing up.

You played at Virginia Union where you were a 2-time CIAA Slam Dunk champion: what was your vertical leap? It was a while ago so I do not recall.
In 1990 you were named NCAA D-2 national POY: what did it mean to you to receive such an outstanding honor? I felt that it was a reward for all my hard work and having my teammates/coaches believing in me. It was definitely a good time and I enjoyed my senior year.

In the summer of 1990 you were drafted 37th overall by Washington (8 spots ahead of Antonio Davis): did you see that as a validation of your college career, or the realization of a lifelong dream of playing in the NBA, or other? Anytime someone thinks enough of you to help you make a living it feels good. It was kind of bittersweet because I was projected to go higher, but it was absolutely a promise fulfilled.

You averaged 9.9 PPG during your 2 seasons with the Bullets: what is your favorite memory from your time in the NBA? There is no 1 specific moment that stood out: the only thing that I would have changed is that I would have stayed in the NBA rather than going overseas to make some more money. I liked everything about the NBA experience: the travel, getting prepared for the season, and then showcasing your talent on the floor.
You spent several years after that playing pro overseas: what is the biggest difference between basketball in the US vs. basketball in other countries? When I was in Europe there were a lot of guys like Toni Kukoc/Dino Radja who were still there before heading to the NBA. The NBA was faster/more athletic but the big guys in Europe could stretch the floor and shoot threes.

In 2004 you were inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame: where does that rank among the highlights of your career? Being recognized after your career is over is always an honor, but it was for my body of work that was already done. I felt grateful but it was not something that I was planning for.

Last fall you became a volunteer assistant to Doug Overton with the Lincoln University Lions: what do you hope to do in the future? I have a mentoring program with at-risk youth in Delaware. I was in Richmond this weekend because we are planning to transition the program here in the future.

Your son AJ was 2000-PT scorer at Iona and now plays pro overseas: how proud are you of all his success, and who is the best athlete in the family? I am extremely proud to get to see his own hard work/maturation. I am proud of my other son/daughter as well but he has definitely carried the torch on the basketball court. I guess my kids are the most athletic right now…but compared to when I was young…I do not know!

 

 

 

Jessie Hicks
Being a part of the NBRPA with other legends of basketball, how beneficial is the organization to players who are embarking on life after basketball? It offers a lot of post-pro basketball opportunities and allows us to continue our life after basketball.

In what ways has your involvement in the NBRPA helped you become an advocate to other retired players? I am new to the organization but it is a great way to reach out to other players. Johnny Newman helped me get started, which was a great thing, and now I can reach out to other players to see if they want to join the NBRPA and help build up our membership. 1 thing that is really great is that anyone in the state can participate in the clinic so they do not need to try to bring in players from other states.

Who was your favorite team/player growing up, and who is your favorite team/player these days? My favorite team was the Lakers: I loved the way that Magic Johnson got everyone involved. Now I like Golden State because everyone plays their roles. I really like Steph Curry’s tenacity.

You have accomplished so many things on the court, but what do you seek to accomplish off the court? I retired back in 2005 and became a high school coach. I have run a few clinics and have also done some 1-on-1 training. I became an elementary school counselor after getting my Masters, and have some other creative things that I want to bring to light. I also have 2 children who keep me busy and allow me to be more of a mother than a businesswoman.

You were 6’4” in high school: did you see your size as an advantage or disadvantage on the court? It was definitely an advantage, but playing against other great players helped me elevate my game. Most post players overseas got paid more, which was a big advantage.

You were a 2-time 1st-team All-ACC player at Maryland: what did it mean to you to receive such outstanding honors? It means a lot because it showed that my hard work had paid off and other people thought highly of me. My coaches helped develop my game: I did not reach that status all by myself. Coach Chris Weller knows how to coach both guards and forwards and she helped me get a position in the WNBA.

In the 1992 ACC tourney quarterfinals you had 21 PTS/11 REB but Joyce Pierce rebounded her own miss and scored at the buzzer in a 1-PT upset by Georgia Tech: how were the Yellow Jackets able to come all the way back from a 17-PT 2nd half deficit? We did not keep the momentum going and had some missed assignments. It was a learning experience for us: we had to run a mile the very next day because our coach was unhappy with us, but we ended up making it all the way to the Elite 8 and fell only a few points shy of making the Final 4. We had a great team that year and brought back a lot of talent the following year as well.

In the spring of 1997 you were selected 12th overall by Utah in the inaugural WNBA draft (2 spots ahead of Tamecka Dixon): did you see that as a validation of your college career, or the realization of a lifelong dream of playing pro basketball, or other? It was a bit of both. As a woman back in the 1970s there was no WNBA so at 1st my plan was to go play pro overseas. It was a continuation of my dream to eventually play in the US and have my family come watch me in person. I remember my 1st year when we played in Charlotte: I had about 10 relatives drive down from Richmond to watch me play. Hard work does pay off, even though a lot of young kids these days just do not get it. I thank the WNBA for giving all of us an opportunity.

You spent 6 seasons in the WNBA and later played pro overseas: what is the biggest difference between basketball in the US vs. basketball in other countries? #1: salary! The culture is also very different: I got to travel all over Europe and see so many countries and meet all kinds of new people. However, there is nothing like being home with your friends/family.

In 2013 you were named 1 of the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament Legends: where does that rank among the highlights of your career? There have been a lot of “legends” who have come through the ACC so that is right at the top. To be 1 of the top-50 was a great honor.

You currently work as a high school girls’ basketball coach in Richmond: how do you like the job, and what do you hope to do in the future? I coached college players in the past and I would like to get back into that in the future. I also want to tap into some of my other goals like having a clothing line for tall women and inspirational t-shirts. I love working with youth so I would love to have my own youth center that does sports/enrichment programs. And of course, providing for my children is the most important thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny Newman
What was your transition like from active player to retired player? I had a wonderful transition. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family so I learned from my father/grandfather the importance of always keeping myself busy. I understood how to do a lot of different things and got involved in real estate/other businesses.

Why did you decide to join the National Basketball Retired Players Association? The biggest part for me was the chance to remain active after serving as a player rep during my career. I wanted to improve both on and off the court and give a helping hand to younger guys who were trying to learn the system, so I did not have a 2nd thought about joining.

What is the biggest benefit of being part of the NBRPA? 1st of all, since the league is changing and going in a fantastic direction, it is nice to see that the NBRPA has had great communication with them. You need to stay connected so that you are aware of all the changes to the pension/health care/etc. It can help not only you but also your family members.
How do older players serve as advocates to younger players? There are so many great guys out there who have so much knowledge. I wish there were even more opportunities for guys to connect with younger players so that the learning curve could be even faster.

In 1984 you were named conference POY at Richmond and you remain the all-time leading scorer in school history: what was your secret for being such a great scorer? You have to be able to score from anywhere, be a good FT shooter, and just practice. You need the demeanor to step up whenever needed. I had a great career at Richmond even though we did not have a 3-PT line at the time. I tease the younger guys because a lot of my shots back in the day were from the parking lot!

In the summer of 1986 you were drafted by Cleveland: what was your 1st impression of the rest of the amazing Cavaliers draft class (future All-Stars Mark Price/Brad Daugherty/Ron Harper)? Coming from a small town you would always try to figure out who were the best high school players in the state, and in college you would try to figure out the best guys around the country. We had so much talent in that draft class, along with Hot Rod, who had sat out the previous year. It was very competitive every day, which helped me become a better player.

Take me through the 1993 Eastern Conference 1st round with Charlotte:
In Game 1 against the Celtics, Reggie Lewis collapsed on the court right next to you and died 3 months later from a heart defect: could you tell at the time whether he was just tired or if it was something much worse than that? I was checking him but when he went down I could tell that something was really wrong. My 1st instinct was to try to go double-team someone else, but then we all realized that Reggie was not getting up.

In Game 4 Alonzo Mourning made a jumper with 0.4 seconds left to clinch the series: where does that rank among the most clutch shots that you have ever seen, and what was the reaction like in the locker room afterward? We were ecstatic: when big guys make jumpers it is very special. Zo always worked on that shot in practice and was able to knock down 1 of the biggest shots in franchise history.

You played 16 seasons in the NBA with 7 different teams: how were you able to separate the sports side of basketball from the business side? I experienced 2 different lockouts so I just had to do what was best for me and my family. I felt like I was a major contributor for every team I played on. I understand that it is a business, which helped me understand that I had to take care of my body/mentality. I only worried about what I could control, and that kept me in the league for a long time.

You played in more than 1150 career games: did most of your teammates follow your lead by never drinking alcohol or staying out late or were you the exception to the rule? All I can say is that there were some guys who lived differently than I did!

In 2011 you were inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame: where does that rank among the highlights of your career? It was major for me because so many great players have come from Virginia, and to have my parents get to experience that was also big.

Legends Spotlight: Dale Ellis

The National Basketball Retired Players Association hosted the latest edition of its youth basketball and mentoring program called “Full Court Press: Prep for Success”. Several former NBA/WNBA standouts were in attendance at Providence Christian Academy near Atlanta including Dale Ellis/Reggie Johnson/Carla McGhee/Gator Rivers/Sedric Toney. The program travels all over the country to introduce kids to positive role models in both basketball and life. NBRPA writer Jon Teitel has spent time talking with many of the greatest players in NBA/WNBA history and will share his interviews at LegendsofBasketball.com. Jon visited with Dale Ellis about his role with the Full Court Press program and his past basketball successes.

What was your transition like from active player to retired player? I think it was typical. When you go from doing 1 thing your entire life to having nothing to do, it is difficult. I had 1 year left on my contract but wanted to spend the year with my daughter before she left for college. I kicked myself in the butt and wondered what I was thinking for the 1st 6 months.

Why did you decide to join the National Basketball Retired Players Association? It is nice to mix/mingle with guys you played against while networking at the same time and seeing what other people are up to. I went to the All-Star Game every single year: it was fun for me because it was like a reunion. It was hard when Moses Malone died because he was 1 of the people I got to see every winter and join for a bite to eat.

Being a part of the NBRPA with other legends of basketball, how beneficial is the organization to players who are embarking on life after basketball? I think it is important to help them through the transition with life after basketball because the majority of us do not prepare for it. It is also nice to stay around the game in some capacity as part of the group.

You currently serve as President of the Atlanta Chapter of the NBRPA: why did you take the job, and what have you been able to accomplish so far? My life has always been about giving back and I enjoy sharing. I used to run a couple of foundations during my career and when I got a call from the NBRPA to get involved I thought that it would be a nice opportunity. We have quite a few retired players in Atlanta so the 1st question I asked was “why me?” It is challenging work and can be difficult to get other players involved, but the group can help get your agenda off the ground by raising funds or putting you together with business/community leaders to host an event. I also try to find opportunities for the guys to make some money.

You were a 2-time All-American/2-time SEC POY at Tennessee: what did it mean to you to win such outstanding honors? Honors are beautiful but it is not an individual sport. You have to be on the right team at the right time with the right coaching staff. Other players need to sacrifice their own game in order for you to succeed. I just wanted to compete for a championship 1 time and test my ability.

In the 1981 NCAA tourney you scored 22 PTS/10-13 FG including a 15-footer with 1 second left in a 2-PT OT win over VCU: how weird was it to take the only shot that either team attempted in OT (since the Rams held the ball due to there being no shot clock) and where does that rank among the highlights of your career? It might have been a record to freeze the ball that much even back in the era of Dean Smith. The ball just happened to come to me at the end of OT. It was not a play that had been designed for me but it was a confidence-builder: I felt like I had finally arrived.

You were the 1st person in your family to earn a college degree: how much importance do you place on academics? All the importance in the world. When I work at camps I try to get kids to understand the balance between academics and athletics. Not everyone can make it to the NBA but you can always fall back on your education. I regret that I only did enough to just get by, but my daughter has a master’s degree and my son was also a college athlete so I am proud of them both. Getting my degree showed me that I could accomplish anything I wanted to.

After being traded from Dallas to Seattle in 1986, you were named NBA Most Improved Player in 1987 as your scoring average jumped from 7.1 PPG to 24.9 PPG: why did Sonics coach Bernie Bickerstaff decide to switch you from a post-up player to a shooting guard, and how did that decision change your career? It was huge. In high school/college I played with my back to the basket and I was drafted as a forward, but they did not know that I could shoot the ball from the perimeter. It was a no-brainer to move me out there but it was difficult to sit on the bench in Dallas for 3 years. Bernie gave me an opportunity and told me to go for it rather than just sit around doubting my ability. When I got drafted I thought that I would make an instant impact, but the NBA was totally different than college. Bernie once called a timeout after I turned the ball over and told me to shoot it, so I did. My teammates helped me get open for shots and I just had to put the ball in the basket.

In the 1987 Western Conference 1st round you beat your former team: how were you able to become the 1st #7-seed to upset a #2-seed, and was it extra-special to do it against Dallas? Dallas had a lot of talent and had blown us out 5 times during the regular season. We made some key adjustments (after losing Game 1 by a score of 151-129) and squeaked out a 2-PT win in Game 2, which gave us a lot of confidence. I really wanted to beat them and I knew all of their players’ habits because we had been teammates. I got a lot of vindication from that by showing people that I could play basketball: that team had a great group of guys.

In the only All-Star appearance of your career you scored 27 PTS in 26 minutes for the West in a 9-PT win at the 1989 All-Star Game: how were you able to play your best against the best? It was easy to get up for a game when I had to face the best. I struggled against teams like the Clippers because they were the worst team in the league, but when I would have to face a team like Chicago with Michael Jordan in a sold-out arena it was easy.

You won the All-Star 3-PT Shootout in 1989 and led the NBA with 46.4 3P% in 1998 at age 37: what is your secret for making shots from behind the arc? Practice, practice, practice! I worked on my shot and coaches expected me to knock it down. I had coaches who believed in my ability and my teammates were looking for me. When I 1st came into the league the 3-PT shot was not used very much, but Coach Dick Motta would run a play for me early on just to get me into the flow of the game.

In Game 4 of the 1989 Western Conference Semifinals the Lakers had a 2-PT win to clinch the series: how was LA able to come all the way back from a 43-14 deficit? That game was hard to swallow. We squeaked into the playoffs as a #8-seed but the Lakers had star players like Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (my all-time favorite player). When I 1st stood next to Kareem I realized that I was finally in the NBA. They had been there so many times that you had to play from start to finish: we just did not have the firepower to beat them.

On November 9, 1989 you set an NBA record by playing 69 minutes (and scoring 53 PTS) in a 155-154 5-OT loss to Milwaukee: how exhausted were you by the end of that game?! I played every minute of OT while the Bucks kept bringing guys off the bench: I felt like I was running in mud. The worst part was that we had to play the Bulls on the road the very next night (which turned out to be a 109-102 Chicago victory). Growing up we played until we could not play anymore, so even though we lost it was a fun game and I enjoyed it.