Hopeful future coach Greg Oden helping raise funds for retired players

By Adam Jardy for Columbus Dispatch

CLEVELAND – They’re using a young photo of Greg Oden in the promotions, and for that the seemingly prematurely aged big man is thankful.

In a few hours, his alma mater will take on West Virginia in the final game of the Legends of Basketball Showcase inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Right now, Oden is posing for photos in front of a lighted backdrop inside local watering hole Barley House. In the back, a projected screen alternates between promotions for this afternoon’s fundraising event as well as highlighting former basketball players

Cycling through the photos is teenaged Oden in his Ohio State uniform, his entire professional career ahead of him. At the time, the eventual No. 1 overall draft pick was poised for NBA superstardom and a can’t-miss, lengthy professional career.

Things didn’t quite work out as planned, but along the way Oden was introduced to the National Basketball Retired Players Association. Founded in 1992, the non-profit organization was created to help support former players as they transition out of playing the game.

It’s a cause that matters to Oden, and it’s why he was taking photos, signing autographs and mingling with donors as part of a benefit to raise funds for the NBRPA on a blustery evening a few blocks from Lake Erie.

“It’s a long time from when you retire, if you’re lucky enough to retire around 30-something, until you get your pension at 60,” Oden said. “I know everybody thinks, ‘You played in the NBA, you played a sport,’ but these guys (have) got medical bills. I’ve got medical bills. To be able to help with that is big.”

That journey to retirement looks different for every player. For Oden, his path has been well-documented, from injuries ending his 105-game NBA career after the 2013-14 season to a student manager role with the Ohio State program to a college degree and now a job working for his former coach. Oden is in his second year as director of basketball operations at Butler, which is now led by former Ohio State coach Thad Matta.

It’s meant a return to Indianapolis, where Oden grew up and grew into a prep star at Lawrence North. That’s a more comfortable experience than it was in 2012 after he had been released by Portland following his fifth season with the program.

“I definitely was in a tough spot early on, to the point where I was rehabbing in Indy and I was so off of Indy, that’s when I first moved to Columbus,” Oden said. “I would drive the three hours to rehab for four hours (in Indianapolis) to drive back to Columbus at night and do it again three or four days a week. I just didn’t want to be there and run into anybody that knew me. “

Oden’s not exactly inconspicuous, and going undetected is a challenge even on the best of days. It’s a positive development for the 7-footer, then, that he’s emerged on the other side at ease with himself, his place in history and his current situation. Oden’s happy to take selfies when asked, he said, provided people are respectful about it (and they usually are).

Life as a member of a college basketball staff is getting easier the longer he’s in the game. Oden got his start as a student manager at Ohio State and eventually worked as graduate assistant before taking the job at Butler with Matta starting with the 2022-23 season. The more time he spends with Butler, the more Oden is sure of where he wants this all to lead.

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“I’m going to go ahead and say that first: yes, I would love to be a head coach someday,” he said. “I have to keep on learning, keep on working my way up, keep on building relationships with people. That is the goal, but I know I’ve still got a long ways to go.”

Interview completed, Oden stands from the table and is immediately approached for a photo with a fan who has been patiently waiting for an opportunity. The big guy smiles, shakes their hands and happily obliges their photo request.

Just like a coach. Or maybe a philanthropist.



NBRPA membership is comprised of a diverse group of former professional basketball players of the NBA, ABA, WNBA, and Harlem Globetrotters.

Each month, we'll spotlight one NBRPA member from each league to recognize their career on the court as well as the impact they are now having in their communities.

Scott Williams


Scott Williams is a retired American professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Standing at 6' 10", he was capable of playing as a power forward or a center. Early in his professional career, Williams earned three NBA Finals rings as he contributed off the bench during the Chicago Bulls' first three-peat championships from 1991–1993. He developed into a front-court reserve during his fifteen seasons in the NBA, where he was known for his hustle and strong defense. Since his retirement, Williams has coached in the NBA Development League and NBA, as well as commentating for a variety of NBA teams and becoming a published author. Williams, in 2023 wrote “Through The Fire: A Memoir of Trauma and Loss, Basketball and Triumph” - a transparent story of his remarkable life’s journey to the highest level of success as a basketball player, and the depths of personal trauma and pain.  

Williams attended and played basketball for Glen A. Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights, California, where he led the 1986 squad to the 1986 C.I.F State Championship Title. Williams was named a McDonald's All-American in 1986 and enrolled at the University of North Carolina.

Undrafted in the 1990 NBA draft, after four years in college, Williams was signed by the Chicago Bulls in 1990. He played four seasons in Chicago, mostly as a reserve, and won three championship rings in his very first three NBA seasons. On 7 June 1991, in game 3 of the Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, he scored four points (all from the free throw line), grabbed two rebounds, and had two assists in only 11 minutes of play, in an eventual 104–96 overtime Bulls win. On February 16, 1994, Williams scored his career-high of 22 points in a 109-101 loss against the Miami Heat. 

In 1994, Williams was signed by the Philadelphia 76ers, where he played for 4½ seasons before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1999. His career saw a resurgence of sorts in Milwaukee, where he averaged career highs of 7.6 points and 6.6 rebounds during the 1999–2000 season. On December 15, of that season, Williams scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a win against the Orlando Magic. While in Milwaukee, Williams was considered a key part of the 2001 Bucks team that made it to the conference finals before losing to his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers.  Until his retirement in 2005, at the age of 37, he also played for the Denver Nuggets, the Phoenix Suns (one ½ seasons), the Dallas Mavericks (27 games), and the Cleveland Cavaliers. During his final season, he became LeBron James's oldest teammate and the only one born in the 1960s. 

After playing, Williams accepted the Cavaliers' offer to become a color commentator for the team's telecasts on FSN Ohio, beginning in 2005–06, and working alongside Michael Reghi. After two seasons, on 20 October 2007, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported he would join the Milwaukee Bucks' commentary team.  Besides doing pre and post-game analysis for home games, he also called some games while a popular emailer on the Tony Kornheiser radio show.

In 2008, Williams became a color commentator for another former team, the Phoenix Suns, broadcasting with Tom Leander and Gary Bender. During the 2012–13 season, Williams was an assistant coach for the Idaho Stampede in the NBA Development League, and prior to the 2013–14 season, Williams was hired as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks under Larry Drew.

In 2020, on the 'Sixers Talk' podcast, Williams credited Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls with helping him have an NBA career. Williams had played four years at North Carolina but had gone undrafted in the NBA draft. Jordan invited Williams to a scrimmage, which also included other NBA pros, so Williams could prove his worth. Later, Jordan called then-Bulls general manager Jerry Krause and stated "I think Scott Williams might be able to help us out". The Bulls would eventually sign Williams and he would earn three NBA Finals rings (in his first three years in the league) when the Bulls capped the first of their two NBA Finals three-peat wins, from 1991-1993. Williams goes on to state "I always say I am the luckiest undrafted player in the history of the NBA, if there is such a thing".

James Darel Carrier 


James Darel Carrier is a former professional basketball player. Born in Warren County, Kentucky, Carrier played his high school basketball at the now defunct Bristow High School. A 6'3" guard, Carrier played college basketball at Western Kentucky University under coach E.A. Diddle. Carrier was selected in the 9th round of the 1964 NBA draft by the St. Louis Hawks. However, Carrier originally played AAU basketball and later signed with and played for the Kentucky Colonels of the rival American Basketball Association (ABA) 

Carrier was a three-time ABA All-Star with the Colonels (1968, 1969, 1970), teaming with Louie Dampier to form the most explosive backcourt in the ABA; in each of the league's first three seasons, both averaged at least 20 points per game. Carrier played for the Memphis Tams during the 1972–73 season and then retired from pro basketball with 7,011 career points. 

He is a member of the ABA All-Time Team and had the highest career 3 point shooting percentage in ABA history. 

Carrier and his wife, Donna, a retired schoolteacher live on a farm just west of Oakland, Kentucky.[3] They have two sons, Jonathan and Josh. The Carrier's youngest son, Josh, played basketball for the University of Kentucky for Tubby Smith Like his father, he was also a guard. 

He played for the United States men's national basketball team at the 1967 FIBA World Championship. 

Darel has been very successful in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area. He owns & leases multiple large farm(s) outside of the city of Bowling Green, where he grows corn & bean. He has two cattle ranches. He owns Darel Carrier Realty, an estate broker & land developer with 25 homes in that area. He is a sought-after auctioneer in western Kentucky & surrounding areas. He was a high school basketball coach & a shooting coach for local high school students. He has two sons who both were well-respected high school and college basketball players. 

Developing a 90k-person grave site. One son was Mr. Basketball for the State of Kentucky & attended the University of Kentucky on scholarship. He also owns a small airfield for small prop planes to land and take off while crop dusting. He has two Airbnbs in the Bowling Green Area. 

Tocarra Williams 


Toccara Williams is a former point guard who played for the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars in 2004. Prior to playing in the WNBA, she played college basketball at Texas A&M from 2000 to 2004, where in her senior season, she led the nation in steals per game among Division I teams with an average of 4.1 steals per game. 

She is one of only two NCAA Division I women's players to have recorded a steal in each game of her career, and is only one of two players to have also recorded an assist in each of her college games played. 

Toccara was born to teen aged parents and at the age of 8 her father was shot and killed by an unknown male. She inherited her father's nickname “Sweet”, and would use the name for her non profit organization titled “Sweet Rebound”. Toccara founded this organization in 2012. The mission of Sweet Rebound is to use sports as a platform for education. 

Toccara has coached middle school, high school, AAU's, and at the EYBL level. She's trained kids individually and in groups. She's hosted tournaments, camps and clinics. She's even had her own scouting service and digital magazine which help bring exposure to kids to help them get seen by college coaches. 

While playing in the WNBA, Toccara obtained her real estate license which started her journey to entrepreneurship. Toccara believes that real estate goes hand and hand with what she did as a point guard, where she sets her teammates up for success. She’s been branded in real estate as “The Basketball Realtor”, becoming highly successful in the Miami area. 

Williams also has a podcast called “The Crossover”, where she interviews current, former athletes, and coaches on how sports has helped them crossover into their new chapter of life. In addition to her podcast, she also hosts a sports segment for the largest gospel radio show in South Florida, WMBM Gospel 1490, which is called “Pay Attention 2 Sports”. 

Toccara currently serves as the President of the National Basketball Retired Players Association - Miami Chapter, where she and board members give back and make a difference in their community with service, time and resources. 

Michael Douglas 

Harlem Globetrotters

“Luck only happens when preparation and opportunity meet”. Michael Douglas shares this message with youth because it also guides his life. Growing up in Memphis, TN, Michael Douglas had a love for the game of basketball. His dedication and determination led him to be an outstanding basketball player at all levels. 

Michael was an outstanding athlete at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis and became a leading athlete at Dyersburg State College in Tennessee. The opportunity presented itself in 1986 for Michael to try out for the world famous Harlem Globetrotters along with 1500 other outstanding athletes. Michael was the top pick for the Harlem Globetrotters and toured with the team from 1986 -1993. 

Michael has traveled to over 100 countries entertaining crowds as the 7th Showman in the history of the Harlem Globetrotters – sharing a positive attitude and embracing diversity. In 1991, Michael founded the Michael Douglas Youth Foundation (MDYF) in order to help individuals and communities realize their optimal potential. The mission of the youth foundation is to provide activities that are fun, educational and provide a model of healthy living. 

The MDYF strive to help communities provide positive and educational activities for youth. 

The Harlem Legends were founded and are led by Michael Douglas and are a part of the Michael Douglas Youth Foundation. The MDYF utilizes the Harlem Legends to carry out the mission and activities of the youth foundation. The Harlem Legends are a group of professional athletes, former players of the Harlem Globetrotters, NBA, NFL, past USA Olympians and other professionals. The foundation provides various activities to schools, youth organizations, non – profits and the total community, which can be utilized as fund raisers. 

Michael currently participates in a variety of community activities with various organizations across the country. He has served as a motivational speaker for the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Youth Speakers Bureau. In addition, Michael has made appearances through the Scottish Rite Children Medical Center, American Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation, and Mothers Against Violence, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Help Rebuild LA Program, Atlanta Hawks, USA Military Bases, numerous schools and more. He has also authored a children’s book: Lil Mike’s Magic Ball. 

NBRPA membership is comprised of a diverse group of former professional basketball players of the NBA, ABA, WNBA, and Harlem Globetrotters.

Each month, we'll spotlight one NBRPA member from each league to recognize their career on the court as well as the impact they are now having in their communities.

Mario West


Mario West is an American former professional basketball player who is currently the Director of Off the Court for the NBPA. He previously played in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks and New Jersey Nets.

West was a Douglas County player of the year as a senior at Douglas County High School. He also earned honorable mention all-state honors after averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds per game. West was team captain as a junior and senior.

West played college basketball for Georgia Tech. He joined the Tech squad as a walk-on in the fall of 2002, redshirted in 2002–03, and earned a scholarship for the 2003–04 season. He played in 103 games, averaging 3.2 points over his career, and 4.9 over his last two seasons. West departed Georgia Tech 16th on the school's all-time list for steals despite averaging only 13.9 minutes per game in four years. He was voted team captain during the 2006–07 season.

West won the 2007 NCAA State Farm Slam Dunk Contest held during the tournament's Final Four week.

West received a Bachelor of Science degree in management from Georgia Tech on May 6, 2006, and continued his studies during his final college basketball season with courses in Economics.

West went undrafted in the 2007 NBA draft but was quickly signed by the Atlanta Hawks, a team he spent his first two seasons with. West spent the first half of the 2009–10 season playing in the NBA Development League for the Maine Red Claws, before re-joining the Hawks in January 2010. He remained with the Hawks for the rest of the season, and in 156 games for the team over three seasons, he averaged 0.8 points in 4.4 minutes per game.

West was known as a hard worker and an intense defender. Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Mike Woodson was quoted as saying "I've been around this league a long time and I don't think I've ever seen a guy play as hard as Mario plays. He pushes guys in practice to play hard and if you don't play hard he embarrasses you in terms of just knocking the hell out of you." Teammate Acie Law said "You can ask anybody in this locker room, Mario's the hardest worker on the team. You have to be at practice to see him. His motor never stops."

West re-joined the Maine Red Claws for the 2010–11 season, later signing with the New Jersey Nets in March 2011. He appeared in six games for the Nets to complete the 2010–11 season, averaging 3.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 19.3 minutes per game.

In June 2011, West joined Cocolos de San Pedro de Macorís of the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto. His stint lasted until early August.

On August 2, 2011, West signed with Tezenis Verona of Italy for the 2011–12 season.

In June 2012, West moved to the Philippines where he joined the Meralco Bolts. In September 2012, he joined Cañeros del Este and helped them win the league championship while garnering Finals MVP honors in early October. Later that month, he joined La Villa for a short stint.

In January 2013, West signed with Fuerza Regia of Mexico for the rest of the 2012–13 season. In June 2013, he re-joined the Meralco Bolts. He then returned to Fuerza Regia for the 2013–14 season. In March 2014, he moved to France and signed with SO Maritime Boulogne. In May 2014, he returned the Meralco Bolts for a third stint.

In October 2014, West signed with La Unión of Argentina for the 2014–15 season. He sustained an injury in February 2015 and was ruled out for the rest of the season. He remained in Argentina for the 2015–16 season, signing with Juventud Sionista.

In May 2016, West returned to Georgia Tech in Atlanta when he was hired as the director of player personnel as part of head coach Josh Pastner's staff.

West is the son of Gerald and Angie West.

He has volunteered to work with patients at Egleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta since his college days in 2004. This includes activities such as hosting pizza parties for the children.

West co-authored a book "Defend the Dream" with his childhood friend Shakyna Bolden. He shares the lessons he learned in dealing with the challenges of life.

George Tinsley


Born in Louisville, Kentucky, George Tinsley played competitively at Male High School and college basketball at Kentucky Wesleyan College, where he was a member of the teams that won the NCAA Men's Division II Basketball

Championship in 1966, 1968 and 1969, being named Most Outstanding Player in 1969. Tinsley was also a two time All American at Kentucky Wesleyan

Tinsley was selected in the sixth round of the 1969 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls and in the 1969 ABA Draft by the Oakland Oaks.

Tinsley ended up playing with the Kentucky Colonels during the 1969–70 ABA season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in 83 regular season games. Tinsley averaged 9.5 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Colonels in 12 games of the 1970 ABA Playoffs, as the Colonels defeated the New York Nets in the Eastern Division Semifinals and lost to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Division Finals. He signed with the Decatur Bullets of the Continental Basketball Association on December 30, 1970.

Tinsley then played for The Floridians during the 1971–72 ABA season, averaging 3.7 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in the regular season and 2.0 points per game in the 1972 ABA Playoffs as the Floridians lost in the Eastern Division Semifinals to the Virginia Squires. Tinsley was selected by the New York Nets in the 1972 dispersal draft of Floridians players upon the franchise's dissolution, but he did not play for the Nets.

After his professional basketball career, Tinsley applied his leadership and organizational skills to building and leading two companies that operate over 60 restaurants in Florida and Kentucky. He has also received numerous honorary doctorates and has been inducted into several halls of fame for his athletic and business achievements.

Tinsley is a sought-after motivational speaker, coach, and consultant, and has been featured in local and national media. He resides in Winter Haven, Florida, with his wife and two adult children. Tinsley was later a successful businessman with Kentucky Fried Chicken and was inducted into the Kentucky Wesleyan College Alumni Hall of Fame.

George Tinsley Sr. values family above all else.

He married his college sweetheart, Seretha, and together they have been married for over 38 years, raising their two adult children, Penni and George II. Tinsley strongly believes that the family that works together stays together and has included his children in his business operations since they were young.

The Tinsley’s started their restaurant business with a KFC franchise in Auburndale, Florida in 1984, which provided an opportunity for Penni and George II to learn the value of hard work and ethics and develop their entrepreneurial skills. Today, Penni and George II are part of the Tinsley Family Business and play significant roles of responsibility.

The Tinsleys have 22 godchildren, three of whom are involved in the family businesses, while the others have gone on to achieve success in their own endeavors. George and Seretha continue to diversify and develop their family businesses, which started with PenGeo, Inc., named after their children.

Bridget Pettis


Bridget Pettis is a former player and coach for the WNBA. She is an American former college and professional basketball player who was a guard in the WNBA for eight seasons during the 1990s and 2000s. Pettis played college basketball for the University of Florida, and professionally for the Phoenix Mercury and the Indiana Fever of the WNBA.

Bridget Pettis was born in East Chicago, Indiana where she became a legend at East Chicago Central High School. She was known for her crafty moves, quickness, and high scoring play as one of the Nation’s most sought after point guard in the country.

Bridget would end up attending a junior college at Central Arizona, before transferring to the University of Florida where she propelled the Gators into the national spotlight with her superior point guard play. Memorably, she completed eight three-point shots against the Georgia Bulldogs on January 20, 1993—still the Gators' single-game record. She graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in 1993.

The Phoenix Mercury selected Pettis in the first round (seventh pick overall) of the 1997 WNBA draft. She played for the Mercury from 1997 to 2001, the Indiana Fever in 2002 and 2003, and the Mercury again in 2006. Her first two seasons with the Mercury were the most productive, when she started fifty-six of sixty games played, and averaged over fourteen point per game.[2] In her eight- season WNBA career, she played in 228 games, started seventy-one of them, and scored 1,408 points.[2]

In 2013, Bridget, Frank and Eddie Johnson started a club team called Team 2j Thunder. Three months later, Pettis was hired as an assistant coach for the WNBA L.A. Sparks.

In 2014, Pettis was named Assistant Coach for the Dallas Wings, where she coached for 4 seasons before retiring from the Dallas organization.

On January 23, 2019 Bridget returned from retirement to accept a position as an Assistant Coach with the WNBA Sky, but in 2020 she decided to follow her heart and focus on her non-profit organization, Project Roots.

Bridget became the founder of Project Roots AZ, where she championed her community and now the nation in a push to have more people grow their own food. Her efforts garnished so much national prominence, that Washington D.C. would ask that she testify before congress.

Bridget Pettis got inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame, and in 2023 she became the recipient of the Golden Standard, and Game Changer Award.

Bridget has created her own platform where she displays her heart for God and her love for giving back to her community.

Ovie Everett Dotson

Harlem Globetrotters

Ovie Everett Dotson has built great relationships worldwide in sports and business. He is an accomplished retired professional basketball player, successful businessman, and an exceptional motivational speaker.

Ovie is a native Texan who attended Sam Houston High School in San Antonio Tx and The University of Texas in Austin. He accepted a four- year scholarship to attend The University of Texas at Austin (UT) and joined the Longhorns men’s basketball team. At UT, Ovie was one of only a handful of Black athletes at the University in the mid-1970s.

Ovie would go on to carry the banner of the University of Texas Longhorns with him as a member of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters professional basketball team, Ovie led the famed traveling “Ambassadors of Goodwill” onto the court for eight seasons, starting each game, playing in more than 100 countries around the world, and entertaining crowds with his spectacular basketball skills and soaring slam dunks. He had the privilege to play with Harlem Globetrotter great Curly Neal and the first female player Lynette Woodard. Ovie, his teammates, and those who preceded him on the world’s stage transformed the image of the skills of Black basketball players of his era. Having an amazing college career and then traveled the globe as a Harlem Globetrotter. Ovie retired from the Globetrotters and is currently a member of the NBA Retired Basketball Association.

With a passion for mentoring and supporting young boys and girls. Ovie established the Ovie Dotson Basketball Camp at the Boys and Girls Club of San Antonio and the Basketball Magic Camp in Australia which he founded. The camp helped Australian players receive college scholarships in the USA. Ovie has also served as the director for basketball camps hosted by Spur’s great and his UT college roommate Johnny Moore. Ovie has received numerous awards and honors for his love of community athletic achievements and community service. In September 2022, Ovie was inducted into the UT Texas Athletics Hall of Honor alongside NBA great Kevin Durant.

Ovie has held management positions at the regional and national level in numerous leading American companies over the last 20 years. He is currently the Senior District Manager of the Residential and Commercial Division with Freudenberg Filtration Technologies. Ovie enjoys spending time with his wife Anita, playing golf, traveling, time with family and giving back to the community.

NBRPA membership is comprised of a diverse group of former professional basketball players of the NBA, ABA, WNBA, and Harlem Globetrotters.

Each month, we'll spotlight one NBRPA member from each league to recognize their career on the court as well as the impact they are now having in their communities.

Mo Evans


Mo Evans has a unique blend of sports and business experience, relationships, and acumen. During his 11-year professional basketball tenure, his teams made the NBA playoffs 7 times, during his FIBA tenure, he won a FIBA Championship, earned MVP, and was a two-time All-Star. In addition, Mo often represented his teams and organizations in the community with outreach to both youth and corporate initiatives. From 2010 to 2013, Mr. Evans served as Executive Vice President for the National Basketball Players Association and was influential in the 2011 NBA collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

Over the past 15 years, Mr. Evans has been active as an investor and an advisor for several companies, sports funds, and charitable organizations. He is Founder and President of The Molo Agency, a global talent agency that provides branding and management services to professional athletes and corporations focused on sports business services. Mr. Evans received a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. His Board Affiliations include NBRPA Houston, IMAC Regeneration, The Players Impact, Basketball Club International, and Talent Concierge Artist Agency.

Willie Davis


Willie has long been a part of the NBRPA, representing the Dallas Chapter as a leadership member and President of that Chapter.  He has always represented in a very positive manner with positive contributions.

Willie is an outstanding community leader in the City of Dallas & the State of Texas through his many activities on local and national boards. He is also an outstanding Black Art Collector & Educator. His entire family is involved in education.

Sylvia Crawley


Sylvia was was born and raised in Steubenville, Ohio.  She attended Steubenville “Big Red” High school, where she played Volleyball, Basketball, Track.  She earned a full scholarship to play basketball at the University of North Carolina where she led the Tar Heels, as a Captain, to a National Championship her senior year.  She graduated with a double major of Communications, and Radio & TV Motion Pictures.

Sylvia signed her first professional contract to play abroad in France and would continue to play professionally in 16 different countries.  She is Silver and multiple Gold Medalist, she played USA Basketball for the Jones Cup, and in 1997 was named USA Basketball Player of the Year. Shortly after she was added to the USA National Team and was named an Alternate for the 1998 Olympic Team.

Sylvia played in the ABL American Basketball League, where she won the First ever women’s Slam Dunk Contest.  She won with a perfect score of 100, doing a Blindfolded Dunk.  In 1998, The ABL suspended operations and she quickly transitioned to the WNBA where she played for Portland Fire and the San Antonio Silver Stars.  In 2004, Sylvia retired from the San Antonio Silver Stars which relocated and is now known as the 2022 WNBA Champions Las Vegas Aces. 

Sylvia transitioned into coaching College Basketball, and quickly rose to a Head Coaching position at Ohio University, and Boston College where she was the 1st ever Black Coach at both institutions.  Sylvia has also played and coached at her Alma Mater UNC- Chapel Hill where her jersey hangs in the raptors.  She has even coached at the highest-level as an Assistant for WNBA Indian Fever. Currently, Coach Syl is a Global Coach where she trains male and female athletes around the world.    

Off the court, Sylvia is CEO of Crawley’s Creation LLC, a fashion and interior design company. She is also the co-founder of Monarch Magazine, sold nationwide at Barnes and Nobles. She has recently launched a Wellness Collection of Magnesium products offering organic relief for chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia. Sylvia married her best friend; Pastor Brian Spann, they reside in Durham, North Carolina where they care for her parents.

Kevin Daley

Harlem Globetrotters

Kevin has accomplished a great deal in various areas of his life, including the following community contributions, career accomplishments, personal achievements, and academic success.

Most Recent:

• Prominent actor and basketball coordinator in "Sweetwater" motion picture, currently in theaters and various streaming platforms.

• Integral participant in propelling a global company to unicorn status with an evaluation exceeding $2B.

• Honoray Humane Letters Doctoral Degree from the University of Arizona Global Campus


Acknowledged by the U.S. House of Representatives and the State of California for significant contributions to community welfare.

• Partnered with the Department of Education on the Anti-Bullying campaign for the Harlem Globetrotters.

• Continued Anti-Bullying campaign with the acronym S.T.O.P Bullying after retiring. Recognized by the Day of Independence Committee of Panamanians in New York.

Career Accomplishments:

• Formerly a decade-long captain, influential player, and leader of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters.

• Featured in over a dozen commercials, including a notable role as a double for Michael Jordan in a Gatorade advertisement, widely regarded as one of the top 10 commercials of all time.

• Distinguished speaker, recognized with accolades for exceptional public speaking.

• Featured in hundreds of news publications and T.V. shows domestically and internationally.

• Bilingual proficiency in Spanish and English, instrumental in facilitating success in corporate America and during tenure with the Harlem Globetrotters, being the only player to have ever conducted a Globetrotter game entirely in a language other than English.

Personal Accomplishments:

• Father of 2 girls and a devoted husband.

• Esteemed recipient of awards for literary contributions, notably for the acclaimed work, "I Never Stopped Smiling," an autobiography.

• Authored and published 1 plus one = 10: The Secret Leadership Formula Only Elite Leaders Know.

• Globetrotter in the truest sense, having journeyed to over 100 countries.

• Featured in hundreds of news features and television appearances, both domestically and internationally.

• He is a proud representative of his birth country, Panama, participating as a member of the Panamanian National team in several international tournaments.

Academic Accomplishments:

• Completed a B.A. in Sociology, achieved with distinction in 2010 from the institution formerly known as Ashford University, presently the University of Arizona Global Campus, while on the road playing in over 500 games in 25 different countries and 150 US cities, traveling over 50,000 miles.

• Delivered several commencement speeches in the U.S. and internationally.

Former NBA player and executive Lance Blanks dead at 56

The former Suns GM played three NBA seasons after a standout collegiate career

DALLAS, Texas – Lance Blanks, former professional basketball player and executive who worked as an ESPN analyst, passed away on Wednesday, May 3 in Dallas, Texas. Lance was 56 years old.

Lance dedicated his life to the sport of basketball. He played in college at the University of Virginia before transferring to the University of Texas, where he was part of the high-scoring Texas guard trio “BMW”, also known as (Lance) Blanks, (Travis) Mays, and (Joey) Wright. Together, they helped lead the Longhorns to the 1990 Elite Eight as one of the nation’s most exciting teams. Lance was inducted into the Texas Longhorns Hall of Honor in 2007.

The State of Texas basketball luminary was drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the 26th pick in the 1990 NBA Draft and went on to play for three years in the NBA, followed by seven years as a professional player across Europe. After his playing career, Lance served as Scout for the San Antonio Spurs, Assistant General Manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers, General Manager for the Phoenix Suns, and most recently as a Scout for the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Lance was a light for all those who knew him.  It’s been a privilege to have called him one of my closest friends.  I’m eternally grateful for all the support he has shown me throughout the years.  His legacy will be carried on, not only by his family, but by all those whose lives he touched for the better.  You will be dearly missed, brother.” – Joe Dumars

Seen as a mentor to many kids, players and executives, Lance devoted time off the court to invest in the success of others. He served as a consultant in nearly all facets of life and blazed countless new trails – always with a deep commitment to creating space and opportunity for future generations to thrive. As part of this work, Lance spent many years with Basketball Without Borders in Africa, South America, and Europe, investing in players from underserved areas with a passion for the sport. He was also involved with the Nigerian National Team in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Lance is pre-deceased by his father, Sidney “Sugar Bear” Blanks Sr., former NFL running back for the Houston Oilers and New England Patriots. Blanks Sr. was the first African American to receive a football scholarship in the State of Texas. In honor of his father’s legacy, Lance was heavily invested in real estate projects, community affairs, and business in his father’s hometown of Del Rio, Texas. As an entrepreneur and writer, Lance founded Sugar Bear Estates in 2020 to serve as a bastion of the Del Rio community and reflect the life and legacy of his family.

Lance is survived by his mother Clarice, brother Sidney Jr., the mother of his two daughters, Renee, his daughters, Riley and Bryn, and granddaughter, Isabel. Lance was a devoted father, son, and loyal friend. Anyone who knew or met him was touched by his warm smile, calm demeanor, and witty jokes. Lance’s genuine and caring heart will be deeply missed by all.

“My dad was my person. He was my teacher, my idol, my best friend. The love I have for him is simply immeasurable. He carried his family and friends on his selfless shoulders and he was the wisest man I’ll ever know. The path ahead is dark without him but he once told me that he trusted my sister and me to carry the torch of our family’s legacy. And we will.” – Riley Blanks Reed

“My heart aches for the tragic loss of my daddy. He was our father, our rock, our superhero – the one who was there when we needed him most. Life will never be the same without him. I rest in knowing that his indomitable legacy and infectious commitment to family and community will live on forever.” – Bryn Blanks Lewis

“My child, mama loves you.” – Clarice Blanks

Please check Riley Blanks Reed’s Facebook in the coming days for the latest details regarding Lance’s celebration of life.

CHICAGO, ILL. (Aug. 3, 2020)– The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) continues to deliver on its mission of providing educational opportunities to former professional basketball players and their families. Through the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund, the NBRPA will award 78 undergraduate and graduate scholarships for the 2020-21 school year. 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.

“Providing financial assistance towards keeping the educational pathway open for our members and their families is important,” said NBRPA Chairman Johnny Davis. “It has the potential to instill a lasting positive impact on the future of our members and their families.”

Ten of the 78 recipients will also receive the Earl Lloyd Scholarship which is pledged by the NBA Players Legacy Fund to recipients in-need of additional support. Collectively, the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund and Earl Lloyd Scholarship will distribute $260,000 amongst eligible students in 2020.

“The NBRPA is thrilled to offer the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund and Earl Lloyd Scholarship to support its members and families in continuing education,” said NBRPA President & CEO Scott Rochelle. “We strongly believe our members and their families should have access to higher education, regardless of their financial status.”

Over the past three years, the NBRPA has distributed 200-plus scholarships and more than $750,000 in total payouts. To date, $1.8 million in scholarships have been awarded to NBRPA members and their families through the cornerstone initiative.

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

See below for a full list of the 2020 Dave DeBusschere Scholarship recipients:

Nurah AbdulazizJason EakinsNancy JonesRace Parks
Shaylynn AdamsJadyn EakinsHouston JonesLucy Parrish
Hailey AyreKeonna EarlAlyssa KeelingSamuel Roberts
Keion BattleKeith EdmonsonMason KiteMayneatha Royal
Ava BirdinKennedi EdneyNatasha KnightCristina Santiago Espinet
Mylaisia BirdsongKolbi-Rae EdneyAlexa ListerSyarra Sellers
Earl A.  Boykins Jr.Michaela FalzoneAlton Lister, Jr.Anna Shaw
Charity BradleyDylan FisherChelsea MayKendall Smith
Mehsai BradleyReilly GambeeStefani McClanahanKarch Smith
Freddy BrownMyles GilbertAlicia McDanielSerena Smith
Isabelle BrownZoey HillMason MeentsEric Snow
Jazmyn CarthenJ'Den HumphriesAmara Money-WilliamsJazmine Thomas
Caley ChapmanBenjamin InnigerCheyenne MontheTrevor Toolson
Stephanie ColterMichael InnigerSydney MontheMelody Walters
Johanna CountsGrant InnigerElijah O'BryantEvan Wilkins
Sari CuretonAlfonso JohnsonEmery O'BryantShyneefa Williams
Jalen Darling-TotTrey JohnsonLiana PachotJordan Wooten
Jajuan Darling-TotShoneia JonesMilton PalacioCraig Matthew Zeiring
Jaelyn DeJesusLogan JonesEmeri Palacio 
Deneal DoolingDominick JonesIseri Palacio 



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 Johnny Davis, Vice Chairman Jerome Williams, Treasurer Sam Perkins, Secretary Grant Hill, Thurl Bailey, Caron Butler, Dave Cowens, Dave Naves, Shawn Marion and Sheryl Swoopes.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Larry Sanders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then the real work started.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Elton Brand


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Drew Gooden

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

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

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

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

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

And plant-based restaurants.

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Shawn Marion


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

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

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

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

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

Stern did not believe in these same strategies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Davis and Scott Rochelle issued the following statement:

Social injustices have long scorned the history of this country and created systematic atrocities plaguing generations of innocent lives. The inexcusable actions that resulted in the death of George Floyd are sickening, and the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is appalled by and intolerant of their root cause: racism.

The NBRPA and its member Legends represent a diverse group of backgrounds, bonded together by an inclusive culture of acceptance, respect, and empathy. It is with these values that we seek to move forward, together, in advancement of a collective American culture that openly and willingly denounces discrimination.

We stand together, today and every day, in unwavering support of respect and unity for all.