Category: News

by JOHN FAWAZ

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE, THE KNUCKLEHEADS PODCAST HAS BECOME A HIT WITH FANS AND INSIDERS ALIKE

Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson are grateful for all the praise they have received for their podcast, Knuckleheads. But the most meaningful feedback comes from those within the fraternity.

“One of the best compliments we got is from the head equipment guy for the Pistons, he’s been in the League a long time,” says Richardson. “He said, ‘Man, it’s the first podcast I can listen all the way through. It reminds me of how things are when we’re traveling, in the locker room, guys talking.”

“That’s the atmosphere we want.…Talk about some cool, fun stories that people don’t know about. See them in a different light.”

This isn’t new media, social media, or any kind of media to Richardson and Miles. It’s two friends (who have known each other since they were teenagers) shooting the breeze with a guest. Except those two old friends also happen to be former NBA players, and the discussion is the same as if no one was listening.

“That’s the best part of what we have going for us. We have regular talks,” Richardson says. “It’s little things here and there, if there was no camera or mic. We have normal conversations.”

And like their usual banter, basketball is only part of the conversation.

“It’s about good vibes,” Miles says. “Not concentrating on anything negative. We want to talk about journeys and stories.”

Miles and Richardson, who spent 13 and nine years in the league respectively, have had their own journeys, from Midwest childhoods to AAU to college ball to the NBA and the post-NBA life, the “what next?” phase that all players grapple with.

They came in together with the Clippers in 2000 and became fondly known as the Knuckleheads because of their on-court celebration involving two taps to the head with balled-up fists. (The salute originated at L.A.’s Westchester High School, whose players asked the duo to do it in an NBA game.) They captured the attention of Michael Jordan, and he and Nike showered them with glam and put them in an ad for Air Jordans. They hung out with hip-hop artists. Ahead of their time? You could say that.

They only played together for two seasons in Los Angeles, so their current gig is not wholly the result of any connections made then. No, this wasn’t even on their radar.

“It was something that we just stumbled into,” Richardson says. “I first did the story for e Players’ Tribune, the ‘Letter to My Younger Self,’ and that got a lot of response.

“Darius did his letter [‘What the Hell Happened to Darius Miles?’] a year later. Same type of response. We had a relationship with the Players’ Tribune and we had done a couple other things. What should we do next?”

JR Smith poses for a photo with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles of the Knuckleheads Podcast in Los Angeles. (Guillermo Hernandez Martinez/The Players’ Tribune)

How about a podcast from Richardson’s Orlando home featuring former NBA player Drew Gooden? Just a lark, a one-off . But they were hooked.

“Literally after we did it, we felt like it was good and we just went from there,” Richardson says.

Initially they booked guests based on two factors: players they knew, and the schedule for the Orlando Magic. Boston will play the Magic on this date. Boom!
Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum are on. When are the Hornets coming to town? Let’s get Kemba Walker.

They knew they had a hit when after a few episodes, Kevin Durant called them. He said he liked what they were doing and wanted to come on the show.

“We spent two days with [Durant], gave me a whole new perspective and made me more of a fan,” says Miles.

“We didn’t have a plan to reach out to KD…we didn’t plan this,” Richardson says. “We didn’t know there was this whole iTunes pop chart. We were just
doing it.”

Kevin Durant joins Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles of the Knuckleheads Podcast.
(Jed Jocobsohn/The Players’ Tribune)

by NANCY LIEBERMAN

It’s a great time to be a female in the game of basketball. Opportunities are all around us, and the WNBA is on the verge of major growth. The creation of the WNBA inspired hope – a hope that women can not only play basketball at the highest level, but can earn a good living doing so.

I have experienced this dynamic first-hand. I have witnessed how the game of basketball has become bigger, better and stronger for women. More importantly, I acknowledge the great opportunities still ahead of us. In order to take steps toward that brighter future, it’s time to take a step back and really understand the facts and expectations for the future.

First, we can’t continue to believe the myth that men are holding women back – it’s just not true. I was hired by men for every major job I’ve had. I was hired by men from the USBL. I was hired by men to work at Fox and ESPN. I was hired by men to be the first female head coach in NBA G League history. I was hired by men to be the assistant coach of the Sacramento Kings. Ice Cube took my career to the next level, making me the first female head coach in any men’s professional league when I joined the BIG3. I can go down a long list of men who wanted to help me succeed.

Furthermore, there is a healthy respect from male players toward women who play the game. I have never had an issue with men in the league respecting me, especially the players. It’s the outside world that says, “Wait, there’s a girl on the court.” They were the ones who didn’t think it was normal because they hadn’t built the camaraderie we had as players.

For these reasons, we cannot blame the men of the game, as they will only continue to push us toward a better future. I have so much respect for Adam Silver, who so badly wants the WNBA to succeed. It’s men like him who will help put us in the best positions to prosper.

In addition, we must look at the WNBA as a business through an unemotional and unbiased lens. If you want an accurate perspective, go back to when the NBA fi rst started in 1946. Players were making $10,000 when the league began. When I started in the WNBA in ’97, I was making $40,000, and the top salary was $50,000. The NBA helped put us in the spotlight instantaneously, but the onus is still on us. It’s not our birthright to have a WNBA. It’s not Skittles. Everybody doesn’t get one. It’s business. We still have to sell tickets and fill the stands, and sometimes that takes sacrifice.

We women are getting the opportunities to coach, learn, network and share, but we have to grind. In the name of gender equity, it’s nice to be thought of,
but we still have to earn the right to be there and have to create the necessary relationships. The women currently in the league have busted their behinds to get there – nothing was handed to them. That’s what it takes to be a pioneer.

Nancy Lieberman of the Sacramento Kings talks with Rajon Rondo prior to the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 9, 2016 in Sacramento, California.
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

I, along with many other women from my era, have made sacrifices for what we have today. I’m not mad or jealous that I didn’t make the money that today’s players are making. I understood what it took and what I had to sacrifice to create a better future for the game. For five years I went to the NBA summer league on my own nickel. I invested in myself because I knew I had to be around the people who would give me the opportunity one day. If I didn’t believe in myself, why should anyone else?

Every player in the WNBA, past and present, is a role model, a barrier-breaker, a pioneer and a trailblazer. To hold that responsibility, I will ask this: are you willing to make sacrifices today so others can thrive in the future?

I feel a tremendous amount of humility and gratitude to have done something right for a game that changed my life on so many levels. What my greatest role model and friend Muhammad Ali taught me when I was younger was that there are two people in life: givers and takers. He inspired me to be a giver, and I encourage the rest of the young women currently playing basketball to be givers and make sacrifices to better the future of the game.

Nancy Lieberman of the Texas Legends speaks to her team during a timeout as they take on the Tulsa 66ers in an NBA G League game on December 14, 2010 in
Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

2019 LEGENDS CONFERENCE

After being selected fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002, Drew Gooden spent a whopping 14 years in the NBA, playing for teams all across the country.

During the unforgettable 2011 lockout, Gooden witnessed the unfortunate financial crises that fellow players found themselves in. This harsh reality made it clear to him that that was not what he wanted for his own future. The lockout ultimately provided him with an early glimpse of retirement, and the motivation to begin considering what his next step would be after basketball. The break in the basketball season also gave him a leg up, as he was able to use his free time to begin studying and preparing for what was ahead.

Gooden took time to asses a number of potential opportunities, and finally concluded that franchising would be most suitable for his next move. As an NBA vet, though, he was all too aware of the many failed restaurant businesses and franchises owned by other professional athletes. He was committed to not becoming another one of these bad business stories.

The power forward conducted extensive research for months on end on a number of companies that he felt would be good fits for his next move. What he found was that the popularity of chicken wings has sharply risen in recent years. His own affi nity for the food and Wingstop itself aided his decision to make Wingstop his primary investment. He began the outreach process to the company just like any other Average Joe would; nothing was immediately handed to him, and he had to make his case as to why he would be a good fi t for the franchise. His hard work ultimately paid off , and in 2012, Gooden signed an agreement to open four Wingstop franchises in Orlando, FL, his off season home.

During the 2019 NBA Summer Conference, Drew Gooden partnered with Wintrust to speak on the Franchising Forum. He shared his personal experience of franchising Wingstop restaurants, and provided notable advice to former players in the audience who are considering a similar path.

Gooden noted that the process is a long one, and that it’s easy to be discouraged. After all, it took two and a half years of work before his first
franchise ever opened its doors. He spoke to the need for self-awareness and, just like on the court, the importance of building a strong team. He
understands that many athletes have the habit of taking on responsibilities that should be delegated to other, but insisted that all great owners
understand their own weaknesses and surround themselves with people who can effectively fill those gaps. He compares this to the idea of owning
your own basketball team. If you’re the owner, you’re not also the general manager or the coach or on the bench as a player. For athletes like Gooden
who are still in their playing careers (Gooden is currently playing in the BIG3), this advice is invaluable as a strong team must lead the day-to-day
operations while owners are away.

The NBRPA is proud to have Wintrust as a dedicated partner, and encourages its members to utilize their resources for all of their commercial
banking needs.

by BEN LADNER

Before the NBA’s popularity exploded to a point of national interest, before player contracts exceeded those of corporate executives, before stars could
devote off seasons exclusively to training and vacationing, Dave Bing spent his summers working at a bank.

Coming out of college at age 22 and in search of a home, Bing had applied for a mortgage on a house, but was turned down after the National Bank of Detroit deemed his lack of credit history too risky for a mortgage. The following year, after Bing won Rookie of the Year and established himself as the best player on the Detroit Pistons, Bing had secured a mortgage from a different bank altogether. The first bank, however, didn’t forget about Bing, and reached out to apologize – and offer him a job.

“The relationship wasn’t sour,” Bing said, “because I was big enough, strong enough to say, ‘Look, they made a mistake. They now want to employ me.’ And I needed a job, because back then, obviously, we weren’t making a lot of money.”

Bing worked at the National Bank of Detroit for seven off seasons, and while he went on to play 12 seasons in the NBA, those summer jobs helped prepare him for what was in store once his basketball career ended. While many retired athletes dabble in business ventures via investments or partnership, Bing had dreamt of starting and operating a business long before he entered the NBA. His father, Hasker, ran his own bricklaying company in Washington D.C., and while Bing vowed never to work in that industry after Hasker suffered a life-threatening injury, he long hoped to emulate his father as a businessman. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Bing said. “I saw what [my father] did, what he accomplished. I saw the struggles that he had.”

In spite of his own obstacles – namely his diminutive stature and impaired left eye – Bing excelled in both basketball and baseball at Spingarn High School in Washington, D.C., the same school that produced Elgin Baylor. After a growth spurt and an illustrious high school career, he earned a basketball scholarship at Syracuse, where he blossomed into one of the most dynamic guards in college basketball. He went on to lead the league in scoring and earn two First Team All-NBA nods in an era that featured Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West. Though his Pistons never ventured far into the postseason, the success they did have was driven mostly by Bing’s scoring and playmaking.

In 1980, two years after he retired from the NBA, he started Bing Steel, which supplied steel to automotive companies out of Detroit. In the two years between retirement and founding the company, Bing devoted himself to learning the steel industry, taking classes and studying other companies to prepare himself for this new venture. Bing Steel struggled in its first year, and with just four people on staff, took time to find its footing in the industrial world. By the company’s second year, however, it took on General Motors as its main client and turned a $4.2 million profit. In 1984 Bing was named the National Minority Small Business Person of the Year by President Ronald Reagan, and by 2008 the company had sold $300 million of materials, opened five different plants in Detroit, and employed over 1300 people – most of them African American. “I was an African-American entrepreneur,” Bing said. “I felt it was important to make sure I hired as many African-Americans from the city of Detroit as I could.”

Bing’s devotion to the black community became the basis for much of what he did after his NBA career, both in business and in politics. In a city whose
population is over 80 percent black, Bing felt an obligation as a successful and prominent member of the community to serve and represent its people. When the city’s mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, was removed from office in 2008 for committing perjury and obstruction of justice, several prominent members of Detroit’s business community – including Roger Penske and Tony Earley – identified Bing as Kilpatrick’s logical successor – at least for the remainder of the term. “They basically asked me to run for it,” Bing said. “It’s not something I [sought] out.” He deliberated for a few months before deciding to run among a field of 15 candidates – and won.

Isiah Thomas

Dave Bing and Isiah Thomas speak at the half time jersey retirement ceremony for Chauncey Billups during the game against the Denver Nuggets on February 10, 2016 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Allen Einstein/
NBAE via Getty Images)

After completing Kilpatrick’s term, Bing was reelected in 2009. The latter portion of his tenure proved trying for Bing and his administration, and much of their work involved rectifying the mistakes of previous administrations. Still, in 2013, four years into Bing’s second term, Detroit fi led for bankruptcy – the largest city in U.S. history to do so. Despite an unceremonious ending, Bing learned and grew from what he called “the toughest four years of [his] life,” and maintains that he would do it all over again if given the choice. He also believes that his experience as an entrepreneur and NBA team captain gave him the necessary skills and background for a political career. As a player, Bing knew not only his own strengths and weaknesses, but those of his teammates, and sought to mesh complementary skills with one another. In both the business and political realms, he surrounded himself with people who possessed expertise in areas he didn’t.

“Picking the right people to be part of my team was very, very important,” Bing said. “It’s a people business, and you’ve got to make sure you give people the respect and the dignity to let them do their job.”

WNBA

Official Release | April 21, 2020

NEW YORK – The 2020 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm® on ESPN was the most-watched WNBA Draft in 16 years and the second most-watched in ESPN’s history.  This year’s event, which was held virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, averaged 387,000 viewers on ESPN, up 123 percent over the 2019 Draft, and up 33 percent from the last time it aired on the network in 2011.

The 2020 Draft also made an impact across WNBA and NBA social media handles, generating 6.5 million video views (up 165 percent vs. last year) and 1.3 million minutes watched (up 237 percent vs. last year). In addition, the @WNBA Instagram handle had its highest year-over-year growth, generating more than 3.8 million video views on Draft Day.

Unanimous National Player of the Year Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon was selected by the New York Liberty with the first overall pick of the 2020 WNBA Draft presented by State Farm®. Ionescu, a three-time Nancy Lieberman Award winner as the nation’s top point guard, averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and an NCAA-leading 9.1 assists as a senior. She holds the NCAA record for career triple-doubles and is the only NCAA woman or man to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.

Before the start of the draft, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert named Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester as honorary draft picks. The Mamba Sports Academy teammates, who played on a youth basketball team coached by Kobe Bryant, tragically passed away in a helicopter accident in January.

Also, the WNBA introduced the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, a new annual honor that will recognize an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels. The award will carry on Kobe’ legacy of advocacy and Gigi’s passion for the sport.

Official Release | April 17, 2020

NEW YORK – The WNBA today introduced the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, which will recognize an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels.

The new annual award will honor the late Kobe Bryant, a staunch supporter of the WNBA and women’s basketball, and his daughter Gianna (also known as Gigi), who loved the game of basketball and aspired to reach the pinnacle of the sport like her father.

“Kobe was an incredible champion of women’s basketball and Gianna shared his passion and dedication to our game,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.  “The Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award will honor their legacy and reflect Kobe’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of players, promoting the game and giving back to the community.”

The recipient of the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award will be a tireless advocate for women’s basketball and foster the highest levels of leadership.  The award will honor advocates and influencers who use their time, talent and platform to raise awareness for the game.

The WNBA and the Bryant family will announce the inaugural recipient during NBA All-Star 2021 in Indianapolis.  Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, will play a large role in determining the honoree and present the award each year at NBA All-Star.

The Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award will include a charitable component that highlights Kobe’s legacy as a coach and mentor and Gigi’s inspirational, relentless commitment to playing at the highest levels of the game.  Additional details will be announced at a later date.

Basketball Hall of Fame

Apr 4, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Today on ESPN, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the nine honorees in the Class of 2020 presented by Fifty-Five South Ventures. The Class of 2020 will be enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Birthplace of Basketball, on Saturday, August 29, 2020.

As previously announced, in light of the unique circumstance surrounding the Class of 2020, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Election Process Committee suspended the Direct Election Categories for one year with the exception of the International Committee. This year’s distinguished class includes honorees from the North American committee, Women’s Committee and International Committee. To be elected, North American and Women’s Committee finalists must receive 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Three once-in-a-lifetime stars head Hall of Fame Class of 2020

The Class of 2020 includes: 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, 15-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Finals MVP Tim Duncan, 15-time NBA All-Star and nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection Kevin Garnett, four-time National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton, two-time NBA Champion coach Rudy Tomjanovich, 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings, three-time NCAA National Championship Coach of Baylor Kim Mulkey, five-time Division II National Coach of the Year Barbara Stevens and longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.

“The Class of 2020 is undoubtedly one of the most historic of all time and the talent and social influence of these nine honorees is beyond measure,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “In 2020, the basketball community has suffered the unimaginable loss of iconic figures Commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant, as well as the game itself due to COVID-19. We have also banded together like never before in appreciation of the game and those who have made it the uniting force it is today. Today we thank the Class of 2020 for all they have done for the game of basketball and we look forward to celebrating them at Enshrinement in August.”

The Class of 2020 Enshrinement festivities will begin at Mohegan Sun on Friday, August 28th with the newly formatted Enshrinement Tip-Off Celebration and Awards Gala. The Class of 2020 and over 50 returning Hall of Famers will then journey to Springfield, Mass. for the annual celebratory events taking place at the newly renovated Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Springfield Symphony Hall on the 29th. The second day of events in Springfield will include a special community-focused Celebration Day on the 30th.

Ticket packages to the 2020 Enshrinement Ceremony and all Enshrinement events are on sale now and available online at www.hoophall.com or by calling the Basketball Hall of Fame at (413) 231-5513. Premium Sponsors of Enshrinement 2020 include Fifty-Five South Ventures, Nike, Baron Championship Rings, Mohegan Sun and Panini.

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2020

North American Committee:

KOBE BRYANT [Player] -- Recognized posthumously, Bryant was an 18-time NBA All-Star (1998, 2000-16) and 11-time All-NBA First Team selection (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006-13). As an All-Star, he earned the Game’s MVP trophy four times (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011). He was also a five-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010), the 2008 NBA MVP and Finals MVP twice (2009, 2010). He famously scored the second-most points in a single game in NBA history (81), led the NBA in total points for four seasons (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008) and ranks fourth on the NBA’s career points list (33,643). Often celebrated for his offensive prowess, Bryant was also a nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member (2000, 2003, 2004, 2006-11). With USA Basketball, Bryant earned an Olympic gold medal in 2008 and 2012.

TIM DUNCAN [Player] -- Duncan is a 15-time NBA All-Star (1998, 2000-11, 2013, 2015) and an eight-time member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team (1999-2003, 2005, 2007, 2008). He is also a five-time NBA Champion with the San Antonio Spurs (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014), having earned Finals MVP three times (1999, 2003, 2005). In 2002 and 2003, he was named NBA MVP and in 1998 he won Rookie of the Year. Duncan is the only player in NBA history with 1,000 or more wins with one team, which he amassed in his 19 years with the Spurs. He is ranked in the top 10 for NBA all-time rebounds and blocks leaders. As a college athlete at Wake Forest, Duncan earned ACC Player of the Year and was a unanimous First Team All-American in 1996 and 1997. In 1997, he also collected the Wooden, Naismith, Rupp, and Oscar Robertson Awards, while being named AP College Player of the Year.

KEVIN GARNETT [Player] -- Garnett is a 15-time NBA All-Star (1997-1998, 2000-11, 2013) and 2008 NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics widely regarded for his passion and intensity on the court. A nine-time NBA All- Defensive First Team selection (2000-05, 2008-09, 2011), he led the league in rebounds for four consecutive seasons (2004-2007) and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. While playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004, Garnett led the league in total points, field goals made and total rebounds while earning NBA MVP. He is ranked ninth in NBA’s all-time leaders for rebounds. With USA Basketball, Garnett earned an Olympic gold medal in 2000. Garnett played 21 NBA seasons and is currently ranked fourth in all-time minutes played (50,418).

EDDIE SUTTON [Coach] -- Sutton is a four-time National Coach of the Year (1977, 1978, 1986, 1995), eight-time Conference Coach of the Year (1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1986, 1993, 1998, 2004) and the first coach in NCAA history to lead four different schools in the NCAA Tournament. Sutton ranks in the top ten among Division I coaches in all-time victories and has recorded only one losing season in 37 years of coaching. He coached Oklahoma State University from 1991-2006 and tied the conference record for wins by a first-year coach with 24. Collectively, Sutton guided his teams to three Final Fours, six Elite Eights and 12 Sweet Sixteen appearances.

RUDY TOMJANOVICH [Coach] -- Tomjanovich spent 34 consecutive seasons with the Houston Rockets organization as a player (1970-1982), assistant coach (1983-1992) and head coach (1992-2003). He was named The Sporting News NBA Coach of the Year in 1993. He is the only person in NBA history to score 10,000 career points as a player and win 500 career games with two championships as a coach. Tomjanovich led the Rockets to NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995 and is one of three coaches to win an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal. He led USA Basketball to a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Women’s Committee:

TAMIKA CATCHINGS [Player] -- Catchings is a 10-time WNBA All-Star (2002, 2003, 2005-2007, 2009, 2011, 2013-2015) and four-time Olympic gold medalist (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016). After winning WNBA MVP in 2011, she led the Indiana Fever to a WNBA Championship in 2012 while collecting WNBA Finals MVP honors. She played her entire 14-year WNBA career with the Fever, while being named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year five times (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012) and Rookie of the Year in 2002. As the WNBA all-time steals leader, Catchings was named a member of the WNBA Top 20 Players in the league’s 20-year history in 2016. With Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols, Catchings won a national championship in 1998 and was named a four-time Kodak First Team All- American (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001), as well as the consensus National Player of the Year in 2000.

Women’s Committee (continued):

KIM MULKEY [Coach] -- Mulkey has led the Baylor Bears to three NCAA National Championships (2005, 2012, 2019) and ranks third all-time among head coaches in win percentage. In 2012, Mulkey was named the Consensus National College Coach of the Year earning the Naismith Coach of the Year, Associated Press College Basketball Coach of the Year, WBCA National Coach of the Year and USBWA National Coach of the Year. As the head coach of Baylor since 2000, she has guided her team to 17 NCAA Tournament appearances including 13 Sweet Sixteens, eight Elite Eights and four Final Four appearances. Her Baylor squad has also won 10 Big 12 regular season championships (2005, 2011-2019) and 10 Big 12 Tournament championships (2005, 2009, 2011-2016, 2018), earning her Big 12 Coach of the Year honors seven times (2005, 2011- 2013, 2015, 2018-2019). Mulkey is the first person, male or female, to win a national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

BARBARA STEVENS [Coach] -- Coaching in the collegiate ranks for over 40 years, Stevens is the fifth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career wins. She has been named the Russell Athletic / WBCA Division II National Coach of the Year five times (1992, 1999, 2001, 2013, 2014) and Northeast-10 Coach of the Year 15 times (1988, 1989, 1991-1993, 1996-2001, 2003, 2011, 2014, 2018). As the head coach of Bentley University since 1986, she has guided her team to 22 25-win seasons and 10 trips to the Division II Fab Four, including a national championship in 2014. Stevens has been inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame (2002) and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (2006).

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Direct Elect Members:

International Committee:

PATRICK BAUMANN [Contributor] -- Recognized posthumously, Patrick Baumann greatly contributed to the game as a longtime FIBA executive and a member of the International Olympic Committee for more than 10 years. He initially joined FIBA in 1994, rising through the ranks and earning the title of Secretary General in 2002, a title he held until his untimely passing in 2018. He primarily focused on the youth sector and the expansion of 3x3 basketball as a global game, while developing programs and events to grow basketball worldwide. A native of Switzerland, Baumann held a number of positions on several esteemed sports councils and advisory boards and was a basketball player, coach and referee prior to joining FIBA.

WNBA

Official Release | April 3, 2020

NEW YORK – WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert released the following statement:

“As developments continue to emerge around the COVID-19 pandemic, including the extension of the social distancing guidelines in the United States through April 30, the WNBA will postpone the start of its training camps and tip of the regular season originally scheduled for May 15.  While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees.

In the meantime, the league and our teams remain focused on preparing for the upcoming virtual WNBA Draft 2020 presented by State Farm on April 17.  Top prospects will take part remotely live on ESPN with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET.  This virtual draft allows players who have worked so hard to have their dreams realized when they hear their names called and provides teams the opportunity to build their rosters in anticipation of the day that we are able to move forward with our season.

We continue to send our thoughts and prayers to our players, fans, and all of those in the community impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are grateful to those selfless health care workers and first responders who work tirelessly on the front lines.”

The NBRPA Names Thurl Bailey, Dave Cowens, Shawn Marion and Sheryl Swoopes to Board of Directors
Johnny Davis, Jerome Williams and Grant Hill elevated to executive committee

CHICAGO, ILL.  –  The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) announced today the addition of Thurl Bailey (Director), Dave Cowens (Director), Shawn Marion (Director) and Sheryl Swoopes (Director) to its Board of Directors. Johnny Davis (Chairman), Jerome Williams (Vice President) and Grant Hill (Secretary) are elevated to the executive committee.  They join remaining Board of Directors, Sam Perkins (Treasurer), Caron Butler (Director) and Dave Naves (Director). Outgoing directors include Spencer Haywood, Dwight Davis, Nancy Lieberman and Eldridge Recasner who all cycled off after completing two three-year terms. The new board class will begin serving a three-year term, effective immediately.

“This new board class is the perfect pairing of new energy and historical perspective,” said NBRPA President and CEO Scott Rochelle. “Adding to our group’s diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints will undoubtedly strengthen our leadership and maintain our professional standards. The outgoing directors have set the benchmark for leadership over the past six years and we cannot thank them enough for elevating us to new heights.”

New directors, Bailey, Cowens, Marion and Swoopes are responsible for executing the NBRPA mission to serve former professional basketball players, supporting them in  life  after  their  playing  days,  and  helping  them  to  leverage  their  inspirational influence  to  promote  and  teach  basketball  in  their  communities.

Thurl Bailey, a key figure in North Carolina State’s improbable run to the 1983 NCAA National Championship, enjoyed a 12-year career in the NBA with the Utah Jazz (1983-91, 1998-99) and Minnesota Timberwolves (1991-94).  Since retiring, Bailey has become a broadcast analyst for the Utah Jazz and the University of Utah, a public speaker, actor and musical artist.

Dave Cowens, a Hall-of-Famer and two-time NBA Champion, spent 10 seasons with the Boston Celtics (1970-80) and one season with the Milwaukee Bucks (1982-83). After retiring from his playing career, Cowens began his NBA coaching career including stints with the Boston Celtics (1978-79), San Antonio Spurs (1994-96), Charlotte Hornets (1996-99), Golden State Warriors (2000-01) and Detroit Pistons (2006-09). Known as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-Time, Cowens was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991. In 1992, Cowens founded the NBRPA along with NBA Legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark and Oscar Robertson.

Shawn Marion, a NBA Champion and four-time NBA All-Star, enjoyed a career spanning 16 seasons, including stints with the Phoenix Suns (1999-08), Miami Heat (2008-09), Toronto Raptors (2009), Dallas Mavericks (2009-14) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-15).  Since retiring from the league, Marion has become an NBA Global Ambassador and Dallas Mavericks Emeritus. Additionally, Marion is a majority shareholder in the New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League (NBL).

Sheryl Swoopes, a Hall-of-Famer, four-time WNBA champion, six-time WNBA All-Star, three-time Olympic Gold Medalist, enjoyed a career spanning 12 seasons. Swoopes played 10 of 12 seasons with the Houston Comets (1997-07), one season with both the Seattle Storm (2008) and Tulsa Shock (2011). Known as a trailblazer in the WNBA after becoming the first player to sign with the league, she was often referred to as the “female Michael Jordan”. The three-time WNBA MVP was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016. Swoopes is currently an assistant coach at her alma mater, Texas Tech.

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Spencer Haywood on the passing of Kobe Bryant:

"The NBRPA is devastated over the sudden passing of NBA Legends, Kobe Bryant, and his daughter, Gianna. Kobe was a global icon who made an everlasting impact in our league and in professional sports around the world.

We send our deepest condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization, and the entire NBA community. We've lost a beloved Legend."

NEW YORK, Jan. 1, 2020 NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern passed away this afternoon as a result of the brain hemorrhage he suffered approximately three weeks ago.  His wife, Dianne, and their family were with him at his bedside.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following statement:

“For 22 years, I had a courtside seat to watch David in action.  He was a mentor and one of my dearest friends.  We spent countless hours in the office, at arenas and on planes wherever the game would take us.  Like every NBA legend, David had extraordinary talents, but with him it was always about the fundamentals – preparation, attention to detail, and hard work.

“David took over the NBA in 1984 with the league at a crossroads.  But over the course of 30 years as Commissioner, he ushered in the modern global NBA.  He launched groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world.  Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand – making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation.

“Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David’s vision, generosity and inspiration.  Our deepest condolences go out to David’s wife, Dianne, their sons, Andrew and Eric, and their extended family, and we share our grief with everyone whose life was touched by him.”

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CHICAGO, Jan. 1, 2020 - The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) mourns the loss of NBA Commissioner Emeritus David J. Stern. During his 30-year tenure as commissioner, Stern transformed the NBA into a global brand becoming the first American sports league to thrive internationally.

NBRPA Chairman of the Board Spencer Haywood released the following statement:

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern. He made a tremendous impact in the world of sports, beginning in the 1980s when he led us out of the wilderness and into a global brand.  His vision has given players around the world the opportunity to showcase their talents in the NBA, WNBA and G League."

"In 1992, he helped create the National Basketball Retired Players Association with our founders Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens, Dave DeBusschere and Oscar Robertson. He truly loved each and every one of the retired players and was proud of the Association because he viewed it as an extension of the NBA and NBPA."

"David helped me in countless ways personally and professionally. He has graciously allowed me to travel the world to participate in global initiatives as an NBA Legend. I was fortunate to spend time with him in early-September and felt honored when he recently committed to writing the foreword in my new book."

"My deepest condolences go out to his wife, Dianne, their family and the entire basketball world. We are in mourning. Rest in heaven for the legacy you created on earth."

by Caleb Friedman

Juwan Howard stands at the podium, taking a deep breath as those in the room applaud and cheer. About to speak, he stops. He bows his head and covers his eyes before they begin to swell with tears – tears that embody the emotion Howard feels in this punctuating moment for what has been a crazy few days.

He turns around with his back facing the wall, taking a few final deep breaths to compose himself.

“Tears of joy,” he says.

You will understand the tears if you understand the place. Juwan Howard is back in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, where he once captivated the country as a player. This time around, Howard is donning a block “M” pin on his lapel – he’s just been introduced as the head men’s basketball coach.

You can tell Howard is reflecting back to the journey that led him to this defining moment in his career. He mentions the last time he had a press conference at Michigan, where he was declaring for the 1994 NBA Draft. Howard touched on his late grandmother and best friend and what they meant to him, before speaking to the tradition and pride he has to coach his new players – his new family.

Howard calls this his “dream job,” and tells the origin story of his path to Ann Arbor more than two decades ago. Howard is raw and genuine, his words impassioned. It’s clear just how much this all means to him. 

Juwan Howard is home.

Juwan Howard sits at a table during Big Ten Media Day in Chicago, and he sticks out like a sore thumb.

Howard is the only head coach without previous college coaching experience. The other 13 coaches in the Big Ten Conference average 24.5 years of college coaching experience, and 12 of them have 15 or more years of college coaching under their belts.

Then there is Howard who took the Michigan head coaching job after he spent his entire coaching career in the NBA from 2013-2019. After six seasons on the Miami Heat bench under head coach Erik Spoelstra, Howard jumped at the opportunity to return to his alma mater, despite frequently being a candidate for NBA head coaching vacancies. 

“I’ve always been asked the question, ‘Will I ever want to coach college basketball?’” Howard tells Legends Magazine. “My answer was always ‘One job, if it became available. The University of Michigan.’”

At its core, the main part of Howard’s new job is comfortable to him. He has been around the sport professionally for the past 25 years and around youth basketball and AAU circuits through his sons. From a coaching and teaching standpoint, Howard is confident his NBA experience will translate to the college level.

It is all the other stuff that is new and will take some getting used to, chiefly recruiting. Howard is getting used to being on the phone a lot more to talk to recruits, and that relationship-building isn’t something foreign to him. After all, he was once at the other end of those calls as the recruited player.

“The NCAA rules and regulations will take some time to learn and understand,” Howard says. In the NBA, for example, there is no limit on how often a coach can work with players. At the college level, Howard can only work with players for a set number of hours per day and week.

In addition to his basketball duties of coaching and recruiting, Howard serves as a face and ambassador for the school, which means meetings with alumni and donors are also a major part of his job.

“Being a head coach in college, I’m not only coaching the players, but I’m helping run an institution,” Howard says. “I have to choose my staff, hire those guys, make sure I balance a budget. I’m like an Erik Spoelstra, a Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg all in one.”

Still, Howard makes the leap at a time when former NBA players are coming to college seemingly in droves, with names like Penny Hardaway and Patrick Ewing also returning to coach their alma maters. Success has been difficult to come by for many of the former NBA players coaching in college, but there has been a clear advantage in recruiting, particularly for Hardaway.

“There’s been a changing of the guard with coaches that have been around a long time,” former NBA player and current Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse tells Legends Magazine. “There’s a new wave of coaching. I think athletic directors are thinking outside the box, just trying to find guys that can relate to this generation of players…a lot of those guys are one-and-dones now coming into the NBA.”

Speaking to that trend, Howard’s college teammate and current ESPN personality Jalen Rose voiced his support on ESPN for Howard getting the Michigan job early in the process, in part because of his ability as a recruiter.

“He would be a terrific head coach,” Rose said. “He would be terrific at developing young talent. He would own the Michigan market.”

New Michigan Men’s Basketball head coach Juwan Howard is introduced at a press conference at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, MI on May 30, 2019.

If Juwan Howard’s opening press conference at Michigan signified a symbolic beginning, his first day of summer workouts was the real start.

It was then, when Howard walked into a gym with players to coach and a team to prepare, that Howard finally felt he arrived.

“It was that day, the first day of workouts, when it hit and sunk in. I’m the head coach at the University of Michigan,” Howard says. “That was my epic moment, an epic time of sinking in that ‘this is real now.’”

This upcoming season will bring a number of firsts and milestones for Howard, who’s ready to embark on his first season as a head coach. Now, as the season gets going, and the initial emotions fade, everything turns to actual basketball.

As Howard prepares to lead a team for the first time as head coach, he thinks back to the years he’s spent in and around the game, giving him a lifetime of experience to fall back on. He knows he can do this.

“I played this game before for many years, I’ve had a lot of success doing it at all levels, high school, college and pro,” Howard says. “I’ve learned a lot, and I know the game and I know I can coach the game.”

by Martin Kaufmann

Even before he played his first NBA game, Jim Jackson realized that he had to begin preparing for life after basketball.

Jackson was the fourth pick in the 1992 NBA draft after an All-American career at Ohio State. But he only played 28 games his first season with the Dallas Mavericks because of a contract dispute.

“I had already started a (long-term) game plan,” Jackson said. “It really started my first year when I had to sit out. That gave me insight into the way the business works. And then in my third year when I sprained my ankle really bad, (I realized) this thing can be over in a heartbeat, so you have to prepare yourself.”

Copyright 1996 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Through his first four seasons, Jackson was a fixture in the Mavericks’ starting lineup and a reliable scorer, peaking at 25.7 points per game in that injury-plagued third season. During the 1996-97 season, however, he was traded to the New Jersey Nets, beginning an odyssey that came to define his career. Over 14 seasons, he played for an NBA-record 12 teams. Only three other players have played for as many teams.

That’s a mixed blessing for an athlete. Jackson lamented never being able “to establish a camaraderie, a legacy with one team. That’s what you search for when you’re a player.” He would have loved to have become a Dallas institution, such as Dirk Nowitzki, who just retired after 21 seasons. But there might have been some benefits to his itinerant career. He lived all around the country, developing friendships he never would have made had he stayed in one city. “That can benefit you later in life,” he said.

After 14 seasons, and his playing time dwindling with the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers, Jackson knew it was time to move on.

“I just wasn’t the type who wanted to be the 12th man on the bench,” Jackson said. “After the 2006 season, I said, ‘I’m just tired of it. I just want to move on with my life.’”

He already had interests in real estate and restaurants through business partners in Dallas, but he balked when his agent, Mark Termini, suggested that he consider moving into broadcasting. Termini finally convinced Jackson to meet with broadcasting agent Maury Gostfrand, who in 2007 steered him toward the Big Ten Network. Jackson spent eight years there, overlapping with son Traevon’s playing career at Wisconsin.

(Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jackson attacked broadcasting much the way he used to game-plan for an opponent during his playing career. He leaned on his Ohio State network, seeking advice from CBS’ Clark Kellogg and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. He also hired a coach and pored over video of his on-air appearances.

“You’ve got to work. It’s just like watching game tapes,” he said. “You break it down and point out things I’ve done wrong — maybe eye contact, verbiage, maybe slowing down my cadence. It’s a lot of stuff that you might not be aware of ... You have to be honest with yourself. You also have to watch the ones who do it the best. I think that’s the best teaching tool.”

His workload has mushroomed since 2015, when he jumped to Fox Sports 1, where he maintains a busy schedule calling college games. During March Madness, he called televised games for Turner Sports during the early rounds, then moved over to the radio side for Westwood One at the Final Four.

“I love the live games the best,” he said. “There’s nothing like being in the action.”

When he’s not on the road, you often can find him in Fox Sports’ studios, swapping hot takes on LeBron James and NBA life on shows such as “Speak for Yourself” and “Undisputed.” Occasionally some of those contacts he made during his playing career float back into his life.

Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

In December, John Calipari, who coached Jackson when he played for the New Jersey Nets in the mid-1990s, asked his former player to speak to his Kentucky Wildcats when they visited New York. (Jackson joked that when college coaches ask him to talk to their players, “they have to prep the team, because they don’t know who I am.”)

 Jackson urged the players to spend more time focusing on their defense and rebounding rather than obsessing over their offense; if they did that, he said, the points would flow naturally.

“Ride the wave,” he told the Wildcats. “I was fortunate to play 14 years. You’re going to go through this (moving his hand through the air like waves on an ocean). It’s a microcosm of life. But how you handle it, what your outlook is, how you choose to deal with it, is going to determine how you get through it.”

Jackson has practiced what he preaches over the past 12 years. Broadcasting became his new passion, and he never took it for granted. To this day, he said, he still seeks advice from experts to help him improve.

“The same tools you used to become a successful basketball player — the work ethic, the studying, the attention to detail, listening, taking advice — are the same tools you’ll need when you move to that third phase (post-NBA) of your life,” Jackson said.