Category: News

There were many new and familiar faces around Charlotte during the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend. More than 150 former NBA and WNBA Legends met for the NBRPA’s yearly event, which celebrates the growth of the league and its players. 

The NBRPA kicked-off the weekend on Thursday evening with a champagne reception at the host hotel. Upon arrival, the members mixed and mingled with each other and the NBRPA Board of Directors joined the reception following their meeting with NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver.

On Friday morning, the Legends Lounge opened to the masses and the buzz and excitement around Charlotte was evident. The NBRPA’s key partners were on full display, including Spalding, Tissot, Budweiser, Pepsi, Cheurlin Champagne, Wintrust, NuEnerchi and many others. The lounge also featured a live DJ and basketball court, which became the central hub for members and their families throughout the weekend.

The NBRPA team planned and executed its first annual Legends Media Day at NBA All-Star Weekend, which took place on Friday. The team hosted 10 national media outlets and coordinated more than 50 interviews for 25-plus former players. Following media day, the NBRPA held a Welcome Party at the Ivey's, which included a toast from Isiah Thomas and Spencer Haywood.

On Saturday morning, David Thompson and Paul Westphal were honored at the Legends Breakfast with Athletes In Action. Both legends were called upon for their exceptional integrity, service, professionalism and character both on and off the court.

Following the Legends Breakfast, the NBRPA hosted a full-court press: prep for success clinic for 30 youngsters, in conjunction with Jr. NBA. In addition, the NBRPA Chapters held several community events throughout the weekend, including the Shooting For Peace program which provides encouragement and guidance for students of lower socioeconomic status. The chapter presidents also visited five local high schools in Charlotte, speaking to over 1,000 students about the importance of education and life experiences.

The festivities carried over into Saturday night, where approximately 200 legends and guests came to "hit the links" at Topgolf Charlotte. The night was filled with great energy and excitement while the Slam Dunk, Three-Point and Skills competition were played at the Spectrum Center. From basketballs to birdies, this event was a highlight of the weekend.

Rounding out the weekend was the Legends Brunch on Sunday morning. Muggsy Bogues, Glen Rice, Alonzo Mourning and Dell Curry were all honored at the Brunch, which took place at the Charlotte Convention Center and aired later that afternoon on NBA-TV. Hornets Chairman and Charlotte native Michael Jordan made a special appearance at the event and gave special recognition to the 150-plus Legends in the room and the legacy and impact they continue to have on the game. 

CHICAGO (Feb. 21, 2019) – The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) has named 14-year NBA veteran, Caron Butler to its Board of Directors. Butler will serve a three-year term, effective immediately.

Butler, an NBA Champion (2011) and two-time NBA All-Star (2007, 2008), recorded a career spanning 14 seasons, including stints with the Miami Heat (2002-04), Los Angeles Lakers (2004-05), Washington Wizards (2005-10), Dallas Mavericks (2010-11), Los Angeles Clippers (2011-13), Milwaukee Bucks (2013-14), Oklahoma City Thunder (2014), Detroit Pistons (2014-15) and Sacramento Kings (2015-16). Since retiring from the league, Butler has made regular appearances on NBA-TV, ESPN and Fox Sports. In addition to television broadcasting, he has continued to grow his personal brand, Tuff Juice, through a series of podcast and content offerings.

“Caron is the epitome of a retired professional athlete,” said NBRPA President and CEO Scott Rochelle. “He has an incredible understanding of what it took to be a professional athlete and more importantly, what it takes to succeed in life after the game.”

Butler joins the existing NBRPA Board, which includes Chairman of the Board Spencer Haywood, Vice Chairman Dwight Davis, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Nancy Lieberman, and the following Directors, Grant Hill, Johnny Davis, David Naves, Eldridge Recasner, Jerome Williams.

“The opportunity to work alongside Spencer Haywood and so many others that I looked up to throughout my basketball career is incredibly exciting for me,” said Butler. “I’ve watched this organization grow immensely over the last few years, and I look forward to utilizing my own skillset to continue moving the organization forward in helping players transition to life after the game.”

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.”

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.

 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.

NBRPA AWARDS 60 college Scholarships in 2018, 130 in two-year span

 CHICAGO (Aug. 14, 2018) – In 2018, the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) will deliver on its mission of providing educational opportunities to former basketball players and their families. Through the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund, the NBRPA will award 60 college scholarships to its membership, worth more than $260,000. The scholarship, initiated in honor of the late Dave DeBusschere, provides financial support to eligible NBRPA members, their spouses, children and grandchildren in pursuit of degrees in higher education.

“There is nothing more motivating than giving our children and families opportunities to do great things,” said Board Chairman Spencer Haywood. “We hope this scholarship is just the beginning for them.”

Over the past two years, the NBRPA has distributed 133 scholarships and more than $500,000 in total payouts. To date, the NBRPA has awarded members and their families more than $1.6 million in scholarships through the cornerstone initiative.

In addition to the scholarships, the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund supports the NBRPA Chapter Program’s annual Reading Initiative, wherein educational programs in the twelve chapter cities receive funding.

Some of the DeBusschere scholarship recipients will also receive the Earl Lloyd Scholarship. The NBA Players Legacy Fund, which provides assistance to players in need, will award 10 recipients a scholarship in excess of $50,000.

See below for a full list of scholarship recipients:

Student Name Member Name School Name Expected Grad. Date
Asiah Avent Anthony Avent Seton Hall University 2021
Savanah Bennett Melvin Bennett West Chester University 2020
Mylaisa D. Birdsong Otis Birdsong FAMU 2022
Amiynah Campbell Anthony Campbell University of Albany 2019
Antoine J. Carr Antoine Carr St. Thomas University  
Taylor Carr Antoine Carr Nova Southeastern University 2022
Jazmyn Carthen Roger Brown Northeastern Illinois University 2021
Stephanie Colter R. Steven Colter Florida A&M University 2020
Kaitlin Counts Mel Counts Idaho State University GRAD
Patrick Counts Mel Counts California State University Maritime Academy 2019
Sari Cureton Earl Cureton Georgetown University 2021
Taylor Delk Tony Delk Spelman College 2021
Keith Edmonson Keith Edmonson Concordia University (Texas) 2018
Michaela Falzone Bradley Branson Florida State University 2021
Hayden Gambee Dave Gambee University of Arizona 2020
Reilly Gambee Dave Gambee University of Arizona 2021
Johannah (June) Hamilton James (Joe) Hamilton Oregon State University 2021
Kristina Hill Steve Hayes College of Southern Idaho 2019
Zoey Hill Steve Hayes College of Southern Idaho 2018
Jayda Howard Stephen Howard University of California, Berkeley 2020
Mariah Hutchinson Enoch Bud Olsen  (DECEASED) John Hopkins University 2020
Benjamin Inniger Erv Inniger Winona State University 2022
Logan Jones Ernest Jones Eastern Illinois University 2021
Kaley Jones Samuel Jones University of Florida 2020
Kelli Jones Samuel Jones West Boca Medical School of Radiology 2020
Landon Jones Darrall Imhoff (Deceased) Eastern Oregon University  
Reilly Jones Samuel Jones Xavier University 2020
Samuel Jones Samuel Jones Florida Atlantic University 2019
Caitlin Keefe Adam Keefe Stanford  University  
Anthony H. Keeling Harold Keeling University of Georgia                  2019
Mason Kite Greg Kite Dixie State University 2020
Alexa Lister Alton Lister Charleston Southern University 2020
Adelaide McComb Stanley Lee Von Nieda University of Louisville GRAD
Grace Marie Meschery-McCormack Tom Meschery Occidental College 2021
Noelle Torrie Mitchell E. Todd Mitchell University of Kentucky 2019
Takisha Moncrief Sidney Moncrief Dallas Baptist University 2019
Amara Money-Williams Eric Money Santa Monica College 2020
Elijah O'Bryant Eathan Allen O'Bryant Linfield College                                   2021
Avery Powell Cincinnatus Powell Sr. Northwestern University 2020
Melanie Range Ronnie P. Range University of Illinois 2022
Erin Recasner Eldridge Recasner USC  
Sydney Recasner Eldridge Recasner USC 2019
Samuel Roberts Frederick Roberts University of Utah School of Medicine 2021
Syarra Sellers Brad Sellers Thomas More College 2021
Colton Shreve Steven L. Hayes Portland Community College 2020
Karch Smith Michael John Smith Brigham Young University          2019
Luke Smrek Mike Smrek Marquette University 2020
Reginald Theus Reggie Theus Cal State Northridge 2019
Rhyan Theus Reggie Theus University of Arizona 2020
Jazmine Thomas Irving Thomas Spelman College 2021
Conner Toolson Andy Toolson Utah Valley University 2019
Dallin Toolson Andy Toolson LDS Business College 2021
Trevor Toolson Andy Toolson Brigham Young University 2021
Carly Tower Keith Tower Dartmouth College 2020
Chloe Tower Keith Tower Samford University 2021
Keith Tower Keith Tower Concordia University 2021
Reagan Tripucka Kelly Tripucka University Of Delaware 2020
Tristan Von Nieda Stanley Von Nieda South Dakota School of Mines and Technology 2019
Melody Walters Jumbo Eakins Salt Lake Community College 2020
Holli Wilkins Gerald Wilkins Georgia State University 2016

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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.

 

 

 

Day two of the 2018 Legends Conference in Las Vegas was a fun-filled day of events and festivities. The NBRPA and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management officially launched a partnership that provides former players with access to educational programs that are only available to Kellogg Alumni. Noted Kellogg Professors Craig Wortmann and David Schonthal joined the Legends in Vegas for a variety of sessions on entrepreneurial ventures. Discussions from business model creation to “the art of sales” gave former players excellent insight to entrepreneurship, and now, players interested in learning more can sign up for an exclusive online business education module to gain a certificate in business.

Whether they are already business owners, or if they simply have a business idea in mind that they’re thinking about launching, players soaked in the information and asked intelligent questions, making for an engaging conversation with the professors. Reed Hansen, director of business development at Northwestern University's Kellogg Business School, said following the conference, "They sincerely wanted to learn about being an entrepreneur."

Later that afternoon, the Legends headed over to the Summer League games, and the day concluded with an evening of food, drinks and friendly competition at Top Golf Las Vegas.

National Basketball Retired Players Association Launches Partnership with NBPA to Enhance Health Screening Program

CHICAGO (June 4, 2018) – The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) has formalized its relationship with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to deliver valuable, preventive long-term healthcare check-ups to former professional players across the U.S. Launched by the NBPA in 2016, the Health Screening Program has impacted hundreds of former players by providing preventative cardiac testing. The NBRPA’s involvement will expand the program to include orthopedic screenings and care.

“The NBPA is a natural partner for our players, and this new relationship will work to introduce more of our members to effective wellness management strategies as they age and maintain active lifestyles,” said NBRPA President and CEO Scott Rochelle.

The average NBA career lasts less than five years, which emphasizes the need for long-term planning for all aspects of life, including health. In 2015, the NBPA instituted cardiac screenings for retired players, as well as other initiatives designed to prepare current players for life after basketball. By partnering with the NBRPA on this initiative, the NBPA Health Screenings program will reach even more former players through the retired players associations existing communications channels and events in an effort to significantly widen the number of former players touched by this valuable program.

 “We have seen, first-hand, the impact that the Health Screenings program has had in changing the way former players are thinking about their long-term health, today,” said Michele Roberts, executive director of the NBPA. “By partnering with the NBRPA, we will be able to reach an even greater number of former players with this essential program for long-term wellness.”

In addition, the NBRPA and NBPA will continue to collaborate on key programs and expand their current relationship by working hand-in-hand on a variety of initiatives aimed at targeting former players. The NBRPA will further integrate wellness education into its national programing to its players throughout the coming year, as well.

Media Contact:
Brad Shulkin
Brad.shulkin@kemperlesnik.com
847-894-1808

ABOUT THE NBPA
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) is the union for current professional basketball players in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Established in 1954, the NBPA mission is to ensure that the rights of NBA players are protected and that every conceivable measure is taken to assist them in maximizing their opportunities and achieving their goals, both on and off the court.

The NBRPA is proud to announce the opening of the 2018 Dave DeBusschere Scholarship application process.  Developed to provide opportunities for higher learning, this program awards college scholarships to NBRPA members, their spouses and  offspring (natural, step, legally adopted or grandchild) to help meet the rising costs of higher education.

To date, the NBRPA has donated more than $1 million in scholarship money to former players and their children. Please review the scholarship timeline and highlighted eligibility requirements listed below.

Earl Lloyd Scholarship: In honor of the recently departed NBA pioneer, Earl Lloyd, the NBA Legends Foundation (Foundation) has pledged an annual, restricted gift to the NBRPA for the purpose of providing significant financial support to low income recipients of the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship. The Lloyd Scholarship will be available to the children and grandchildren of NBRPA members who have played Three (3) full years in the NBA and therefore, eligible to receive assistance from the Foundation.

Please print and review the attached application for a complete list of eligibility requirements, criteria and information on how to complete the application process outlined.

SCHOLARSHIP TIMELINE

May 11, 2018:            Scholarship Applications Distributed to Membership

June 4, 2018:             Applications Due

June 18, 2018:           Applicant Denial Notification

June 25, 2018:           Earl Lloyd Determinations 

July 9, 2018:              Scholarship Recipients Announced

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

In order to qualify as an Eligible Candidate (“Eligible Candidate”), one must be a current NBRPA member, the offspring (natural, step, legally adopted or grandchild) or the spouse of a current NBRPA member.  In addition, the offspring or spouse of a deceased NBRPA member who was in good standing at the time of his or her death will be deemed an Eligible Candidate for Five (5) years after the member’s death.

  • In addition an eligible candidate must be either (1) a high school senior who will graduate in the spring and enter a college, university or certain vocational or technical school within the U.S. that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting association or agency, (2) any high school graduate who has been accepted to an educational institution, or (3) a student currently enrolled full time in such an educational institution who is returning to school the following fall.

 

  • Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of a 2.75 or better to qualify for an award.

 

  • No family member of the NBRPA’s staff will qualify as an Eligible Candidate.

 

Eligible candidates click HERE  to apply 

 

Should you have questions regarding the 2018 Dave DeBusschere Scholarship please contact Excell Hardy at 312.913.9400 or ehardy@legendsofbasketball.com.

The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) brought its Full Court Press: Prep For Success program to Miami, Florida at OB Johnson Park on May 5th along with several partners Jr. NBA, Police Athletic/Activities League (PAL), Leadership Foundations, and Strategies For Youth.

Legends participating in the clinic included Irving Thomas, Toccara Williams, Jayson Williams, Billy Thompson, and Lamar Green.  While the Legends focused on basketball drills and lessons, the NBRPA partners focused on life lessons off the court.

Irving Thomas, President of the NBRPA Miami Chapter, spent the day mentoring the kids and sharing examples of the work ethic required to become an NBA player.  Thomas, who currently serves as a college scout for the Los Angeles Lakers, was able to reflect on the NBA draft evaluation process, reminding kids that coaches at all levels assess more than just skill.

Over 120 kids participated in the Miami Full Court Press clinic and the Legends and officials remained very engaged with all of them throughout the day.  The Full Court Press: Prep for Success program will next visit Memphis, Tennessee in June.

 

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 Central Gwinnett High School in Atlanta including Dale Ellis/Harold Keeling/Charlie Bell. 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 history and will share his interviews at LegendsofBasketball.com. Jon visited with Charlie Bell about his role with the Full Court Press program and getting a triple-double in the NBA.

Charlie Bell

What did you do at last weekend’s Full Court Press clinic? I worked at the ball-handling station and spoke to the whole group about my journey to the NBA and what I am doing now.

What was the best part of the clinic? Speaking to the kids was great. I did a Q&A and had a chance to engage with the kids: when I was little it meant a lot to me if I could talk to a former NBA player in depth. Some of the questions were funny and some were really intelligent.

How do you try to connect with the kids on the court? Just talking to them and letting them know that I really care about them. I ask them about their favorite food/school subject: you have to engage with them.

What do you hope that the kids get out of this great experience? I hope they learned some things that they can use to improve their basketball skills and take it up a level. A lot of people do not see all of the hard work behind the scenes and all of the practice that the guys put in.

What were the best/not-so-best parts of going from an active player to a retired player? The best part is not having to practice anymore and stay in shape! It sounds easy but when it is your job there are some days that you just do not want to lift weights/watch film. The worst part is that you miss the game, your teammates, the camaraderie in the locker room, etc. When you have played basketball your whole life it is hard to figure out what to do after it is over.

How did you end up as a National Basketball Retired Players Association member? Just through word-of-mouth. I was unsure how many branches they had but just talked to other guys who were not playing any more.

What is the biggest benefit of being a part of the NBRPA along with other legends of basketball? Just the camaraderie and having somebody to talk to. The community service aspect is great because you want to give back: they help connect us with different charities/clinics where we can help kids and meet other players. I got to meet Dale Ellis, who is someone I looked up to when I was growing up, and I got to talk to him about what he has been doing since retiring. It is about building your network with guys who have similar interests.

How do the older players serve as advocates to the younger players? We just try to help the younger guys because they do not know exactly what they are getting into. If you never played basketball before then you cannot always relate to those who have, but we give them someone to talk to and explain what we did to change our lives.

You scored 9 PTS for Michigan State in the 2000 NCAA title game win over Florida: what did it mean to you to win a title? It is probably the greatest memory that I have. In college we spent a lot of time together and I am still pretty close to all of my teammates: we are like brothers. When you have 6AM workouts and push each other every day to become better, it bring you closer. There are a lot of great teams who do not win a championship so it is something that you can never take away from us. To this day when I go back to campus everyone is still thankful: it was my claim to fame even when I played overseas.

In 2001 you were named an All-American: what did it mean to receive such an outstanding honor? It was great because I never saw myself as an All-American growing up: it was just fun and I enjoyed playing the game. It was a huge accomplishment because I was in the shadow of guys like Mateen Cleaves/Morris Peterson during my 1st few years of college, and a lot of people did not expect that from me as a senior.

You were regarded as a superstar while playing pro basketball in Italy/Spain: what is the biggest difference between basketball in the US vs. basketball overseas? When I was playing the fundamentals of the game were the biggest difference. Guys overseas might not be the fastest on the court but they can all shoot the ball. In the US younger guys lose sight of the fundamentals because they are watching all the crossover dribbles on SportsCenter and playing AAU basketball where the coaches cater to the kids. It is out of control with the FBI investigation and money in everyone's pocket and AAU coaches who are not really teaching the fundamentals and are just trying to keep a kid on their team. Most of the pro teams overseas also have junior teams: I remember playing with Marco Belinelli when he was only 15 years old. Their system is a bit different than ours.

After returning to the NBA you had 19 PTS/13 AST/10 REB for Milwaukee in a win over Phoenix in 2006: where does that rank among the best all-around performances of your career? I cannot remember the specific game but our coach (Terry Stotts) pulled me aside before the season and said that he wanted me to be a good practice player. I knew that I could play in the NBA so I stayed ready because I did not know what would happen. We had a few guys who got injured (Michael Redd/TJ Ford/etc.) and a few games later I got the triple-double, which really put my name on the map. It does not happen every day, especially for an undrafted player like myself, so for Russell Westbrook to average a triple-double for an entire season is unheard of!

You currently work as an assistant coach for Iowa in the G League: McDonald’s All-American Darius Bazley announced last week that instead of going to college at Syracuse he would be taking his talents to the G-League? I think it is a difficult decision that he made. I am sure that he got advice from different people but the G League is a grind: it is a lot harder than college in terms of games/travel/etc. I think next year he will wish that he could be in college instead of waking up at 4AM to catch a flight and then getting stuck at the airport for 4 hours! I am sure he might get a shoe contract but the G League only pays players around $20,000-25,000/season, and playing time will be hard because every team has 2-way guys who are guaranteed a certain # of minutes. I wish him well and hope it all works out, but I think that NBA teams should be able to draft high school kids, put them in the G League, and put more money into the league in ways such as charter flights.

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 Central Gwinnett High School in Atlanta including Dale Ellis/Harold Keeling/Charlie Bell/Reggie Johnson. 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 history and will share his interviews at LegendsofBasketball.com. Jon visited with Harold Keeling about his role with the Full Court Press program and his favorite memory from his time in the NBA.

Harold Keeling

What did you do at last weekend’s Full Court Press clinic? We had almost 100 kids and it was a very good camp. I worked with the kids on passing drills, the 3-man weave, etc. After a day of drills we ended with full-court games and it worked out really well.

What was the best part of the clinic? I think the best part was the organization: we had 5 former NBA players and 7 other counselors so it was very organized. We talked to the kids about the time when we played in the NBA/overseas.

How do you try to connect with the kids on the court? That is what I do! I own 2 group homes for kids who do not have parents and we play basketball all the time. I have known since I was young that I wanted to work with kids: I hold a camp every summer for 60-70 kids.

What do you hope that the kids get out of this great experience? The camaraderie of getting to meet with/play against other kids. They learned some new drills and different aspects of the game. When you meet a former player who you know from playing Xbox it is a neat experience. It was a very happy environment for everyone.

What were the best/not-so-best parts of going from an active player to a retired player? After playing basketball your whole life, entering the “real world” it is a big transition in terms of time. When I played basketball I just had to worry about showing up for a few hours each day to practice/games, but with a real job there are a lot of hours between your start time and your stop time. We also got a lot of things when we were players like sneakers/meal money, but now we do not get as many free things. It is a financial change and a mental divorce from what you have been doing your entire life. It is almost like a good friend of yours who always provided you with happiness has died. When it is over it takes some time to get back to an even keel mentally. Our egos change after playing basketball for so many years, so the faster we readjust the better our lives can be.

How did you end up as a National Basketball Retired Players Association member? I had heard about it and 1st got started around 2011/2012 when I went to the All-Star Game. I played with Dale Ellis on Dallas who worked for our local chapter and he invited me to jump on board. We now have 1 of the better chapters in the nation.

What is the biggest benefit of being a part of the NBRPA along with other legends of basketball? I like seeing all the guys I used to play with/against. My wife and I attend All-Star Weekend every year and we get to see people who I have known for the past 30 years. It is good to see guys who you battled against year after year: now it is easier to just give them a hug!

How do the older players serve as advocates to the younger players? It works better sometimes than others but talking to the guys about life after basketball is important. Sometimes they learn more about what they should NOT be doing rather than what they should be doing! The NBA has changed over the past several years and things have really come around thanks to Commissioner Stern/Commissioner Silver: there is so much more media now and there are so many more players coming to the US from overseas. I remember when Argentina beat us during South American competition: I was amazed that they were better than us…until they beat the US in 2004! Brazil/Canada/Puerto Rico also had great players/teams: the international game has really come around.

In your final game at Santa Clara, Mark Gustin made 2 FTs with 3 seconds left in a 3-PT 3-OT win by Fresno State: where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career? I fouled out but assumed that we would still win the game and that I would get to break Kurt Rambis’ career scoring record in our next game. When we finally lost it was a brutal reality.

In the summer of 1985 you were drafted in the 3rd round by Dallas (3 spots ahead of Michael Adams): did you see that as a validation of all your hard work, or the realization of a lifelong dream, or other? I had hoped to get drafted a little higher. I made the 1st-team at the Aloha Classic along with 4 future pros like Detlef Schrempf/Joe Dumars/Terry Porter/Xavier McDaniel…but I became the 1st player to ever receive that honor and then not get drafted in the 1st round.

You played 20 games in the NBA: what is your favorite memory from your time in the NBA? It was fun to hang out with my fellow young Dallas teammates like Derek Harper/Sam Perkins. It was also nice to see other guys who I had met at the Chicago pre-draft camp who were doing well on their own teams.

You later played in several countries including Venezuela (where you won several championships): what is the biggest difference between basketball in the US vs. basketball overseas? The international rules were different so I went from averaging 2 PPG to 30 PPG. They also blamed every loss on the American players no matter how well we did: there was much more pressure on us. There were 2 Americans on each team and the only other guy I could count on back then was the other American guy, but I am sure that it is different now.

You played for Venezuela in 2001 South American Basketball Championship (Tournament of the Americas?): what was it like to face start like Manu Ginobili (Argentina) and Anderson Varejao (Brazil)? It was very impressive to play against guys like Nene/Leandro Barbosa who were great players. I did not think that any player overseas would be better than me after I had been in the NBA but some of them were really good.