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:
Cristina Santiago Espinet
Earl A. Boykins Jr.
Alton Lister, Jr.
Craig Matthew Zeiring
ABOUT THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL RETIRED PLAYERS ASSOCIATION
The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) is comprised of former professional basketball players from the NBA, ABA, WNBA and Harlem Globetrotters. It is a 501(c) 3 organization with a mission to develop, implement and advocate a wide array of programs to benefit its members, supporters and the community. The NBRPA was founded in 1992 by basketball legends Dave DeBusschere, Dave Bing, Archie Clark, Dave Cowens and Oscar Robertson. The NBRPA works in direct partnerships with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. Scott Rochelle is President and CEO and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board 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.
by JIM ROOT
“Ball is life.” A mantra for many hoop heads, that phrase has come to represent the total devotion to basketball, whether it be watching, playing, analyzing, or taking part in any other aspect of the game.
No one better represents the way the sport can consume a person than professional basketball players. For many, the sport becomes interwoven with their identity, and really, how could it not? It takes a staggering amount of work to get to that level, even for the most physically gifted, and the pressure to maintain – and even increase – that level of commitment multiplies as the stage gets grander.
The risk, though, comes in having so much of oneself tied to such a singular focus. What if your body falters? Or, perhaps even worse, what if your mind does?
Larry Sanders knows the burden of being a professional all too well. After vastly outperforming his rookie contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, he signed a four-year, $44 million extension in 2013, and the ferocious rim protector seemed primed to be a principal reason to “Fear the Deer” for the rest of the decade.
After leading the NBA in block percentage in 2012-13, Sanders became something of a cult favorite among fans, spearheaded by his highlight reel blocked shots and sometimes-acrimonious run-ins with officials. ESPN NBA writer Zach Lowe referred to him only as “LARRY SANDERS!” in articles, and Sanders was once ejected from a game for awarding each official with an exaggerated thumbs-up gesture following a call with which he disagreed. But the 6’11 defensive star wasn’t thriving in the same way privately.
As fans, we want to believe we “know” a player based on what we see on the court. Sanders was a confident defender, constantly smiling but also quick to frustration when calls went against him. So, this must be his off-the-court personality as well, right? Happy, but a loose cannon?
“What do you really value in a person? Their honesty, their trust, their loyalty, their commitment…you can’t tell that by looking at someone jump around on TV,”
“YOU CAN SACRIFICE SO MUCH OF Y OURSELF AND BE LEFT WITH NOTHING AT THE END OF THE DA Y,” SANDERS SAID, ENCOURAGING FELLOW PLAYERS TO PUT THEMSELVES FIRST , AS WELL. “THE DA Y AFTER YOU WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP , YOU’RE GONNA FEEL LIKE THE SAME DA Y BEFORE… IT’S GONNA FADE.” -- Larry Sanders
Sanders says. And he’s right – we have no way of knowing what’s actually happening inside the heads of professional athletes, which is why it’s so important that those athletes put themselves first, even if it may not be glamorous to do so.
Sanders ultimately had to make that decision for himself, checking himself into Rogers Memorial Hospital for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders in February 2015, leaving the game he loved because he knew he needed to prioritize his own well-being above the fleeting accomplishments of the sport.
“You can sacrifice so much of yourself and be left with nothing at the end of the day,” Sanders said, encouraging fellow players to put themselves first, as well. “The day after you win a championship, you’re gonna feel like the same day before… it’s gonna fade.”
Iciss Tillis was always a lover of basketball, too, and her preternatural abilities only made it easier to get lost in the game. She was a high school All-American in Oklahoma, earning a scholarship at Duke University and eventually blossoming into a collegiate All-American there, as well.
She always had other interests, though. From an early age watching the O.J. Simpson court proceedings, Tillis knew she had a passion for justice. For a long stretch of her life, she put that interest on the back-burner, throwing herself into her basketball career (and doing so rather successfully). But she always felt the pull off the courtroom, wisely acknowledging to herself that hoops would not last forever.
Eventually, at age 30, Tillis hit the breaking point. She retired from basketball and immediately began to figure out how to kick-start her legal career, quickly enrolling at Texas Southern and distancing herself from the game, even as that distance pained her – and others around her. For instance, her mother had spent Tillis’ entire life closely following her daughter’s basketball career, and suddenly that connection was gone. But Tillis had to follow her heart.
“Walk in your path – or you’ll live someone else’s dream,” she says. Practicing law had been Tillis’ dream from a young age, and there’s a freedom in pursuing that, even if others may have wondered why she was walking away from the game.
Another of Tillis’ favorite axioms laments this transition period: “Athletes die twice.” She was – and still is – determined to make her “second life,” so to speak, just as fulfilling. Tillis is now a successful attorney for Jackson Lewis, and her unique perspective in the legal field has come in handy throughout her career.
Basketball is a beautiful game. It can give opportunities to people who may not otherwise have them, and the correlation between hard work and results is tremendously satisfying, even at levels far below the professional ranks.
Like any relationship, though, the one between a player and the game should always be mutually beneficial. The connection will be better and more rewarding if the player retains an identity and a healthy state of mind outside of the sport. For Sanders and Tillis, basketball – for as much as they truly did love it – became an obstacle to something else, and each one knew that the best approach for individual happiness was to walk away.
Ball can certainly be life, but it should never be at the expense of self, and players (and coaches, scouts, etc.) must never be afraid to realize the freedom and joy that can come from the rest of life, as well.
INSIDE THE METEORIC RISE FROM PL AYER TO EXECUTIVE
by CALEB FRIEDMAN
What do you do if the game no longer wants you back?
A severely underrated and under-reported aspect of athletic retirement is how often it is a “by default” decision. The legends who choose to leave the game get plenty of attention (think Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, etc.), but there are significantly more players for whom the phone simply stops ringing. These players pass on silently into the next phase of life, left to figure out a new direction in which to pivot.
Elton Brand dreaded the idea of falling into the latter group. Once on track for one of those “storybook retirement” situations – Brand was positively dominant for the first eight years of his career – injuries had robbed the former Duke star of his explosiveness before his mind was ready to move in a new direction. Basketball was still his passion, and more specifically, playing basketball was still what he wanted to do.
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.
He threw himself into the new gig, treating it like a corporate job and demonstrating to the rest of the front office that he wanted to be in management. He traded in his sneakers for dress shoes, his sweatsuit for a suit, and left the court behind. During his performance review after the season, head coach Brett Brown and general manager Bryan Colangelo told Brand they envisioned his role as more on-court, though they still offered high praise for his determination to learn the ins and outs of the off-court operation.
Brand knew where he wanted to be, though, intentionally position-ing himself as an off-court presence. “That was by choice,” Brand told the NBRPA. “I didn’t go on the court at all, I didn’t get one rebound. I’d suggest that for any player post-career: pick a lane, pick what you love and attack it.” With that clarity of focus on his side, Brand pursued a job opening with Philadelphia’s G-League team, the Delaware 87ers (now the Del-aware Blue Coats). His experience – and strong performance – in his prior consultant role made him a superb candidate.
“I loved the idea,” Brand said. “If I want to go be a GM one day, it was a no-brainer for me. I jumped at the opportunity.”
He earned the role, and suddenly he found himself running the day-to-day operation for a team barely a year after he was done play-ing. Gone was the luxury of the NBA, but Brand was ready for this new challenge, no longer yearning for the one more shot to be on the court. He embraced his new lifestyle in the grittier G-League, fondly recalling renting cars to scout players in places like Canton, Ohio, and Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or flying to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in a snow storm. Brand really valued the chance to gain valuable reps without the ever-present microscope of the NBA bearing down on him.
“The G League showed me I’d love to be a general manager if I got the opportunity,” Brand said. “Taking buses, it’s not glamorous, it’s not the NBA, but it’s still basketball. It was pure. It was still basket-ball.”
The experience he gained in areas like running his own draft and executing his first trades would quickly prove invaluable. Colangelo resigned his general manager position in June of 2018, and Brand, who had already been promoted to Vice President of Basketball Operations, leapt at the chance to fulfill his dream of being a GM.
Everything Brand had learned through his time as a mentor in Atlanta and Philadelphia, plus his tenure in charge of the Blue Coats and his laser-focused mentality, shined through in the interview process. He sold the ownership group on his vision for the team and its cornerstone pieces in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and his ability to communicate and connect with both the management team and the players made him a tremendous candidate.
“It was bigger than just me, the opportunity to be an ex-player and show we can fulfill and excel in these roles,” Brand said. “Being a lifelong learner and having a growth mindset, it was an opportunity to learn and grow and embrace a new challenge.”
Since taking over as GM, Brand has made several bold moves, including trading for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris and signing Al Horford as a free agent this off-season. But for the burgeoning new front office superstar, it’s about far more than just roster transactions. It’s about finding a new place for himself in the world of basketball, and perhaps just as importantly, finding an area of the sport that wants him, too. He has a tremendous platform to impact people in a positive way, and he does not take that lightly.
“My goal is obviously to win a championship for the city of Philadelphia,” Brand said. “(But) the broader goal is bigger than basketball, having these relationships with the players that they can come into our organization and make their dreams come true, and then when they leave the game have opportunities and have a great feeling about our organization. ‘The Sixers are a great organization; Elton Brand supports me as a mentor and a friend even if I can make a shot or not.’ It’s bigger than basketball.”
“IT WAS BIGGER THAN JUST ME, THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE AN EX-PLAYER AND SHOW WE CAN FULFILL AND EXCEL IN THESE ROLES. BEING A LIFELONG LEARNER AND HAVING A GROWTH MINDSET, IT WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN AND GROW AND EMBRACE A NEW CHALLENGE.” -- Elton Brand
by PAT EVANS
As Drew Gooden reached his 10th year in the NBA, he realized he was invested in nothing outside the sport.
During the four years following that thought, Gooden continued to play in the league, rebuilding his off-the-court career to support his post-career life. Gooden went with an industry he knew well: restaurants. Specifically, chicken wings and the quick-service restaurant, Wingstop.
“From a customer perspective, I fell in love with the restaurant, it was something that pulled me in,” Gooden said, explaining how he decided to go with a chain for his first entrepreneurial endeavor. “You always hear the horror stories of opening a restaurant, the statistics of them being successful. So with the situation I was in, I thought I could beat the odds.”
As Gooden, who played for ten teams during his career, began looking into opening his first shop, he began the due diligence process, including chatting with Junior Bridgeman and Jamaal Mashburn, both of whom have become quick-service restaurant businessmen. They answered many of the questions Gooden had before opening his first Wingstop in Altamonte Springs, Florida, in 2012.
“Those two guys stick out amongst a lot of others because they own hundreds of concepts,” Gooden said. “I knew I loved wings, but I didn’t know the business concept. It was a first-time learning experience.”
After seven years in control of the store, Gooden said it’s one of the most successful Wing Stop locations. He’s now in negotiations to acquire another four Wingstop locations.
Along with his growing Wingstop empire, Gooden said his bread and butter is triple-net commercial real estate properties, including national tenants. He said once he began running a business, the idea of owning an asset and collecting rent on a physical property intrigued him. Now he owns commercial real estate across the southeast, in Napa Valley and the Bahamas and is always actively looking to add to his portfolio, particularly in regions that are growing and appreciating at a fast pace.
For him, Wingstop wasn’t the end all, be all, but a means to learn the ropes. As he learned the fundamentals, he began to wonder why he was paying rent.
“It was a learning tool, how to own, how to operate, create leverage and negotiate,” he said.
With his early business endeavors, Gooden also said it’s important to embrace mentors the same way early career athletes look at veterans in the game.
“You want to get all the guidance in the world,” he said. “I correlate as being a rookie, coming in you look at the veterans, the coaches, medical staff, to get you into a routine in the NBA to succeed. I surrounded myself with the same type of components in my business life.”
Gooden said it’s important to harness opportunities available during a professional athlete’s career.
“There’s a mass network of people that want to know you while you’re playing,” he said. ”When you’re retired, a handful are still interested, but most, you don’t build the relationships over time.”
“WE HAD ENOUGH DATA OF ATHLETES MAKING BAD INVESTMENTS, SO I WAS WEARY ABOUT JUMPING IN TOO SOON. AT THE SAME TIME, I WISH I WOULD HAVE, AS THE PLACES I WAS LOOKING TO INVEST IN HAVE APPRECIATED THREE-FOLD SINCE MY ROOKIE YEAR.” -- Drew Gooden
The stories of professional athletes making bad investments or going broke after their playing days echo through Gooden’s ears prior to starting his post-career endeavors. Some of that knowledge is why it took him until his 10th year to begin building his portfolio.
“It’s the coulda, woulda, shoulda,” he said on if he should have started sooner. “We had enough data of athletes making bad investments, so I was weary about jumping in too soon. At the same time, I wish I would had, as the places I was looking to invest in have appreciated three-fold since my rookie year.”
“It’s all a learning experience. And the blessing of playing in the NBA at a young age is you retire still young and there’s still lots of opportunities out there.”
He said there was a disconnect in financial literacy teachings in generations of the past, but it’s improving rapidly as more athletes talk about their successes and failures.
On the horizon for Gooden? Prior to the season, he signed new broadcast contract with NBCSports. He also recently finished his communications degree at the University of Kansas and is enrolled in an executive education program at Columbia.
And plant-based restaurants.
“Plant-based is here to stay,” he said. “There’s a huge percentage that wants to eat it, not many QSR serve it. That’s something I’m going to look at.”
by BEN LADNER
NBA legacy families have existed almost as long as the league itself has. Scores of former pro players have gone on to see their sons trace their paths to the league, and many NBA family trees stretch unimaginably wide. Rick Barry raised three sharp-shooting sons, Jon, Brent, and Drew) who played in the league, while Bill and Luke Walton each won two NBA titles in their respective eras. Matt Guokas Jr. won a championship with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967 – 20 years after his father won with the Philadelphia Warriors in the league’s inaugural season – making the pair the first father-son championship duo in NBA history. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson followed their fathers’ footsteps to team up and anchor a dynasty. The list goes on.
Perhaps the biggest difference between today’s NBA offspring and yesteryear’s is the scope and intensity of the spotlight. Today’s high school and college players get more national exposure than ever before; grow up with an NBA legend for a father, and the limelight shines doubly bright. Those than manage to survive it, though, often go on to highly successful college and NBA careers given their uncommon luxury of learning the game firsthand from basketball royalty. As a new generation of young players attempt to follow in their fathers’ footsteps, these five names could loom large over the next era of NBA basketball.
Shareef O’Neal stands on the court during the 2018 Brand Jordan NBA All-Star Uniforms & All-Star Rosters Unveiling show on January 25, 2018 at CBS Studios in Studio City, California.
COLE ANTHONY UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
Anthony isn’t the son of a Hall of Famer – his father, Greg, was an 11-year role player in the league – but he might make the best pro of any rising second-generation NBA player. At North Carolina, he filled the lottery pick Coby White’s shoes, Anthony is perhaps the most vaunted player joining the Atlantic Coast Conference next season. He possesses a rare combination of speed and power, using a quick first step, physical drives, and electric vertical explosion to constantly put pressure on the rim. He has outstanding vision in the pick-and-roll, already showing the ability to read and pick apart defenses on the move.
Anthony’s physical tools also make him a stout defender at the point of attack. He’s quick enough to slide with ball-handlers and his strong frame yields no ground to what would normally be punishing drives. The college (and eventually pro) game will pose a different physical challenge, one Anthony must meet in the weight room, but he has the build to remain one of the more physically imposing point guards at whatever level he plays.
BRONNY JAMES SIERRA CANYON HIGH SCHOO L
LeBron James Jr. is already an internet sensation. His highlights have been viewed hundreds of millions of times on YouTube and Instagram, and his basketball exploits have been publicly documented since his early middle school days.
Bronny isn’t and likely won’t be the basketball player his father was as a teenager – placing such expectations upon him would be wildly unfair – but may prove every bit the phenomenon LeBron was in high school. The younger James made news this summer for both his play on the court and his high school enrollment. With LeBron’s move to Los Angeles in the 2018 offseason came Bronny’s accompanying transfer to Sierra Canyon, a high school in Chatsworth (an L.A. neighborhood) that just so happens to be one of the country’s preeminent basketball programs.
There is (perhaps valid) speculation that the elder James might be prolonging his career in part as a means of becoming teammates with his son in four years, when Bronny would be eligible for the 2023 NBA Draft. Regardless of his dad’s influence, Bronny has a chance to pave his own path to the league. With an impressive combination of shooting, passing and athleticism, his game projects as one that will fit the changing NBA well. He is a better shooter than LeBron was as a teenager, though far from the physical force and play-making savant. With so many tools in his arsenal, the biggest determinant of Bronny’s success may simply be his physical growth. He already stands 6-foot-2 in his early adolescence; if he sprouts to the standard size of an NBA wing, he becomes a whole new force with which his opponents will have to reckon.
LeBron ‘Bronny’ James Jr. with his father LeBron James following the Ohio Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic on December 14, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.
LeBron ‘Bronny’ James Jr. #0 of Sierra Canyon High School dribbles the ball up court during the Ohio Scholastic Play-By-Play Classic against St. Vincent-St. Mary High School at Nationwide Arena on December 14, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.
ZAIRE WADE SIERRA CANYON HIGH SCHOOL
Wade, a lanky lefty, plays with much of the same smoothness, creativity, and skill his father did. Zaire is clearly a great way from meeting the Hall-of-Fame bar Dwyane set, but he does possess the craft and feel for the game to get his NBA career off the ground a few years from now. His three-point shot might be more developed than his dad’s was at the same age – if for no other reason than the increased importance of the shot in the modern game – and possesses every bit of scoring acumen and creativity you might expect from Flash’s son.
What pops about Wade’s game, however, is his passing. Not only is he able to thread dimes through tight crevices and pinpoint windows the defense can’t see, he’s a willing facilitator for his teammates. He seems to understand when and where teammates will be open, and how to deliver the ball in the most efficient manner possible. At the high school level, that allows Wade to play and feel the game at a different speed than his peers can.
A full three years older than James, Wade might currently be the better player (though likely not the better prospect) and could play a larger role on this season’s stacked Sierra Canyon squad. Still, Wade has yet to generate much buzz from college programs, as he doesn’t possess the same physicality or creativity as a scorer his father did at the same size. Wade’s upcoming senior season will serve as an important proving ground for his college outlook.
Zaire Wade #2 of Sierra Canyon defends against Prince Aligbe #10 of Minnehaha Academy during the game at Target Center on Jan. 04, 2020 in Minneapolis.
Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat exchanges jerseys with his son, Zaire, after the final regular season home game of his career at American Airlines Arena on April 09, 2019 in Miami, Florida.
SCOTTY PIPPEN JR. VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY
Pippen doesn’t garner nearly the fanfare that James or Wade do, nor is he as dominant on the court as Anthony and O’Neal are. But much like his father, Scottie, he is steady, solid and versatile, and has a viable path to the NBA nonetheless. Pippen, also a Sierra Canyon product, committed to Vanderbilt after a breakout performance at the Les Schwab invitational that earned him tournament MVP honors and figures to play meaningful minutes for the Commodores this season.
Standing at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Pippen plays quick and low to the ground, running his team’s offense with poise and opportunism. He sees the court extremely well, constantly scouting for passing windows, and has outstanding forward burst and vertical explosion. Like most every player on this list, he has excellent feel and a mind for the finer points of the game. While he prefers to distribute and facilitate, Pippen can capably shoot both off the catch and off the dribble – a weapon that has become more prevalent and necessary for lead guards in the Steph Curry era – though he could stand to become a more consistent shooter. Pippen lacks the ball-hawking defensive playmaking skills father had (the vast majority of defenders do) and lacks Scottie’s versatility due simply to his smaller frame. Still, Scotty shares both literal and basketball DNA with one of the greatest defenders of all time, and possesses some of the same instincts and athletic traits.
While Pippen doesn’t currently project as the same sort of prospect Anthony, O’Neal, or James does, it’s easy to see his upside and a viable path to the NBA, provided he plays up to expectations at Vanderbilt.
Shaquille O’Neal’s oldest son red-shirted his first year at UCLA due to a heart surgery that cost him the entire season, but entered the 2019-20 season healthy and prepared to play. While not as powerful or post-oriented as his legendary father, Shareef O’Neal is among the most skilled and athletically gifted big men in college or high school basketball and a potentially ideal combo big in the modern NBA. (O’Neal’s other son, Shaqir, is a lanky 6-foot-5 guard who shares many physical and athletic traits with Shareef.)
At 6-foot-9, 215 pounds, O’Neal is an electric finisher at the rim and an outstanding shooter for his size. As more and more big men are able to these days, he can capably handle the ball and create his own shot from anywhere on the floor, and he has the mobility and explosiveness to guard most positions on defense. Though he projects to play mostly as a power forward or center, O’Neal’s versatility could theoretically allow him to occasionally slot in on the wing – especially early in his NBA career, when he’ll likely spend most possessions with-out the ball in his hands. Still, there is far more to O’Neal’s game than the mere fact of his last name, and the rest of the basketball world could soon find out why.
O’Neal will take his talents to Louisiana State University, his father’s alma mater, next season.
SCOUTING THE NEXT WAVE OF COACHING TALE
by SEAN DEVENEY
Crunching numbers into the morning’s wee hours. Scouring game film until the sun begins to rise. Spending sweaty hours working with the team’s 12th man, trying to smooth out his footwork or his jumper or a new post move.
The bulk of coaching basketball is not about glory. It’s about the sweat and diligence that comes before those few occasional glorious moments, whether it’s on a pro bench or as head coach in a collegiate program. For five rising young coaches, all with the opportunity to move up in the NBA and NCAA, that work has been getting noticed.
JARRON COLLINS “I LEARNED THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PROFESSIONAL”
Jarron Collins considers himself lucky. He was among the final players cho-sen in the 2001 draft, 53rd overall, a draft position that seldom yields a fruitful career. Collins never posted impressive numbers (he averaged 3.9 points and 2.9 rebounds), but he stuck around the league for 10 seasons.
That was, in part, because Collins started his career with the Jazz, a franchise that taught him how best to approach his time in the league.
“I was fortunate in that I started by career with John Stockton and Karl Malone, playing for Jerry Sloan,” said Collins, now an assistant with Golden State. “I learned the importance of being professional and doing things in that manner. Because your reputation will go places you will never go. You handle yourself appropriately, take care of your business, it may pay dividends down the road.”
That’s how it went for Collins, who spent the 2009-10 season with the Suns after eight years in Utah. He didn’t play much for Phoenix, logging 7.7 minutes in 34 games, but he left an impression on the team’s general manager at the time—Steve Kerr.
Five years later, when Kerr was named head coach of the Warriors, Kerr brought him on as the team’s player development coach. In his first season on the bench, Golden State won the NBA championship.
Collins was moved from player development to an assistant, but he says titles like that don’t matter much. All coaches on Kerr’s bench share duties. “On our staff, everybody is responsible for doing scouting and having a voice,” Collins said. “That’s one of the things I appreciate about Steve. He allows all his coaches to have a voice and do presentations and do walk-throughs when it’s your time. It’s like players do reps and get better that way, but coaches get reps, too, and you get better the more repetitions you do.”
That’s important for Collins, who has designs on running his own staff eventually. He interviewed for the Memphis head-coaching job last year and the Atlanta job before that. He did not get either, but he recognizes the value in the experience.
“Interviewing for head-coaching opportunities is always tremendous,” Collins said. “I am definitely very fortunate and appreciative of the opportunities to be in those rooms—it’s only going to benefit me down the road.”
REX KALAMIAN “THERE’S SO MANY INFLUENCES I’VE BEEN LUCKY TO HAVE”
Rex Kalamian was coaching at tiny East Los Angeles College, where he had recently played as a guard, in 1992 when he got a break, a chance to work in the NBA. There was a downside, though: the job was with the lowly Clippers, notorious penny-pinchers at the time. Kalamian’s assignment was on a game-night basis only, helping out coach Larry Brown and his staff.
Two years later, he was hired to be the team’s video coordinator under coach Bill Fitch, who liked his work ethic so much that he soon made Kalamian an assistant coach.
“I didn’t really know it at the time, how big that opportunity was,” Kalamian said. “It changed my life. Then Bill just became such a big influence in me staying in the league and learning how to coach.”
Things were tumultuous for the Clippers of that era, yet Kalamian remained with the team in some capacity through 2003, working for seven head coaches in that span. He finally left L.A., coaching Denver, Minnesota, Sacramento, Oklahoma City and Toronto over the next decade-and-a-half and working under the likes of George Karl, Scott Brooks and Dwane Casey, forging a reputation for player development work.
“There’s so many influences I’ve been lucky to have,” Kalamian said. “The guys I’ve worked for, they’ve all been Coach of the Year, they all are very accomplished coaches. I would say I’ve probably taken a little bit from each guy.”
Now, Kalamian has come full circle. He’s back with the Clippers, joining Doc Rivers’ staff last year as defensive coordinator. Under owner Steve Ballmer, the franchise has changed drastically in terms of culture and approach. But the biggest change is expectations: The Clippers are among the favorites to go to the NBA Finals. That could eventually lead to a head-coaching job, but that’s not where Kalamian is focused.
“The future is about the Clippers and what happens right now,” he said. “Trying to win a championship. To me that is the focus because teams that win, coaches that win, good things happen to them.”
NIELE IVEY “SHE JUST HAS IT"
Jaden Ivey is one of the top prospects in the Class of 2020, a guard for Indiana’s LaLumiere School. He has committed to Purdue but conceded that when it comes to the family hoops tree, he’s not the top branch. That still belongs to his mom, Niele Ivey—a star and national championship winner as a player, rated as one of the best assistant coaches in the NCAA while spending 12 years on Muffett McGraw’s staff at Notre Dame.
“Yeah, my mom is the one who motivates me,” Jaden said recently. “All the success she has had and where she is now, it’s what I want to do.” Niele Ivey made the leap last summer from the Fighting Irish bench to Memphis, to join coach Taylor Jenkins’ staff. The Grizzlies have been the biggest surprise team in the league, entering this season expected to finish in the cellar as the franchise undergoes a rebuilding program.
Ivey earned a reputation as a teacher at Notre Dame, both as a coach and in her time as a point guard who averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists from 1996 to 2001. Ivey played in the WNBA for five seasons after that.
When Ivey was inducted into Notre Dame’s Ring of Honor in 2016, former play-er Skylar Diggins said of her, “She led by example. If you didn’t know how to do this and that, ‘OK, let me see the ball. Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom—that’s how you do it. She’d get out there and play with us, it was something you can’t really teach. She just has it.”
That hands-on teaching approach made her an ideal fit for the young Grizzlies, who had rookie point guard Ja Morant and star big man Jaren Jackson Jr., both just 20 years old—not much older than her son. This would be a group in need of teaching. That was one reason Ivey had interest in the job.
“Taylor, sitting down and talking with him about his vision, he’s really big on fostering a competitive, unselfish, positive environment for his players,” Ivey told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “He’s very development-oriented.”
Turns out the development has happened quicker than expected. Far from the cellar, the Grizzlies are in the mix for a playoff spot in the West and Morant is the favorite for Rookie of the Year. As a fellow point guard, Ivey is playing whatever role she can in that.
“She’s given me some corrections with my game,” Morant said. “Getting to certain spots on the floor. And she’ll tell me I corrected it and she’s proud.”
LINDSAY GOTTLIEB “I AM REPRESENTING MORE THAN JUST MYSELF”
Of all the glittering elements on her resume, the biggest for coach Lindsay Gottlieb may be this: She’s been to the Final Four. Not as a player or as an assistant. No, Gottlieb got there as a head coach, when she led California to the Final Four for the first time in school history in 2013.
Not many NBA assistants have head-coaching experience in the NCAA and none, other than Gottlieb, have been to a Final Four. That was one reason that John Beilein, himself the former coach at Michigan, wanted Gottlieb on his staff when he took the job as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“She’s been a winner, her whole career,” Beilein said. “When you go to a place that hasn’t been winning and you change that, that says a lot about a coach.” Gottlieb became the league’s eighth female assistant coach last spring, leaving her mark as one of the most successful active coaches in the women’s game. She began her head-coaching career at 30 years old, guiding UC-Santa Barbara to a 22-10 record. Three years later, she got the job at California, where the Bears went 32-4 in her second season.
Her Cal teams won 20-plus games and reached the NCAA tournament in seven of eight seasons, and her overall head-coaching record at the end of last year was 179-89.
Gottlieb did not get into basketball to coach. She was recruited by Brown as a guard, but a knee injury limited her ability to contribute on the court. So she began helping her teammates from the bench. Her teammates at Brown nicknamed Gottlieb, ‘Coach,’ and by her senior year, she was a de facto part of Brown’s staff, serving as a player-coach.
Now, Gottlieb is helping to bring along the young Cavaliers. She concedes that there’s pressure attached to her position, but that pressure does not come from Beilein or any of the team’s players. It mostly comes from herself.
“I have seen it as, I am representing more than just myself,” Gottlieb said. “I want there to be more women coaches after me. So the decisions I make and the things I do, I have to look at it that way. It does add pressure. I want to be successful so that more women will get chances to coach at this level.”
BOBBY HURLEY “THE FIRE WAS THERE TO COACH”
It was the fall of 2000 and Bobby Hurley thought he might have one more comeback. The No. 7 pick in the 1993 draft and one of the most accomplished players in NCAA history, Hurley’s career had been limited after he nearly died in a car crash a few months after his league debut.
He’d had surgery to fix his ACL and was expected to try out for Boston. But the knee was still not right and Hurley, reluctantly, retired at age 29. It was difficult on him. Hurley tried to shift is focus. He got into thoroughbred racing, owning two horses he raced in New Jersey and Florida.
“I wasn’t able to retire on my own terms, to leave on my own terms,” Hurley said. “That was frustrating. So I needed to get away. It was not like I never watched—I was watching close, college basketball, the NBA. But I needed to have some other life experiences. Doing that gave me the time I needed to work through getting over the finish of my playing career.”
A decade later, Hurley returned to competitive basketball as a coach. He was from a family of coaches, starting with his father, Bob Hurley Sr., who won 26 state championships in 39 years coaching at St. Anthony’s High School in New Jersey. When his brother, Dan Hurley, got the head coaching job at Wagner in 2010, Bobby joined the staff.
“I just had an open mind,” Hurley said. “I was ready for a fresh challenge. I kind of knew deep down that I wanted to coach, that I always wanted to coach, it was such a big part of my life, watching my dad do it and seeing my brother do it. The fire was there to coach.”
From that modest beginning, Hurley has built a budding career. His first head-coaching gig came at the University of Buffalo, where he guided the Bulls to their first-ever NCAA tournament. He left Buffalo after that showing, taking the reins at Arizona State in 2015.
Hurley’s Sun Devils won 20-plus games the past two seasons, getting the school back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014. That’s been especially rewarding considering the way his playing career ended, considering the time off he needed to heal emotionally.
“I just have so much more appreciation for what the game of basketball has done for my life,” Hurley said. “Not having it for those years when I was not coaching or playing, there was a void there. Getting the chance to work with the kids I work with now, it has really replaced that void.”
NBA PLAYERS ARE INCREASINGLY STARTING THEIR MEDIA CAREERS WHILE THEY’RE STILL PLAYING IN THE LEAGUE
by CALEB FRIEDMAN
The summer of 2019 provided an NBA free-agent frenzy unlike any we’ve seen in a long time. Shortly after winning an NBA Championship and Finals MVP award with the Toronto Raptors, Kawhi Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. The team also signed Paul George, and Twitter be-gan exploding.
Bill Simmons, founder of The Ringer and formerly of ESPN and Grantland, considered the news as potential for furthering his family of podcasts.
In discussing the Clippers’ prospects with Leonard and George, Simmons suggested adding Andre Iguodala to the roster. The move, he claimed, would make basketball sense for Los Angeles, but also includes a self-serving reason for Simmons:he believes Iguadola would make a great podcast host for The Ringer, which is based on Los Angeles.
“I have selfish reasons for this one,” Simmons says on his podcast while speaking to Marc Stein of the New York Times. “I’m announcing it, it’s 11:25 here on the West Coast. If Andre Iguodola comes to the Clippers, I’m giving him a Ringer podcast.”
The Ringer, which is known for its podcasts, has experienced great success with player-driven podcasts, where players—as opposed to journalists or pundits with years of media experience—drive the conversation to give insight into the life of an NBA player. For publications and players alike, the relationship afforded by a podcast is mutually-beneficial; the publications get exclusive and informative details that all reporters covet, and current players get valuable media experience that gives them the reputation to jumpstart careers in media in their post-playing days.
“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.
In response to the changing media landscape, the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) has committed itself to providing programs and services to help Legends navigate the complex digital world. The NBRPA launched Legends Live to provide an outlet for retired players to have an online voice and contribute to the conversation on social media. Great importance is placed on assisting Legends in the digital space and the NBRPA is committed to expanding these opportunities in the future.
“A LOT OF TIMES WHEN YOU’RE A FAN, YOU’D RATHER HEAR IT FROM A PLAYER PERSPECTIVE…LIVING AND GOING THROUGH SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT THAN GOING THROUGH AND WATCHING IT ON TV.” -- Shawn Marion
THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF FORMER NBA COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN
David Joel Stern was born on Sept. 22, 1942. His father, William, ran Stern’s Deli in Manhattan, where David often worked as he grew up. He spent most of his childhood in Teaneck, New Jersey, which was the first Northern suburb to vote in favor of busing in order to support integrated schools. Such a background molded a foundation that fostered both an open mind and an open heart in David Stern.
After graduating from Rutgers University, Stern went on to earn his J.D. from Columbia Law School. His very first involvement with the NBA came during his time at Proskauer, Rose, Goetz & Mendelsohn, the firm that represented the league. After years of working alongside the NBA, Stern joined the in-house team in 1978 as general counsel under Commissioner Larry O’Brien. It was a time that saw the league severely lacking.
Just two years later, Stern was promoted to executive vice president and immediately started making waves. One of his first major decisions in the role was to implement a drug-testing policy, a first for any major sports league in North America. Additionally, salary caps were adopted in order to assist smaller market teams. This decision ultimately stabilized the league, priming it for future growth.
When Stern rose to the role of Commissioner in 1984, the NBA was falling behind the NFL and MLB in both broadcast numbers and revenue. The two other leagues were also in the midst of strategies that ultimately muted their players as individuals, rather than empowered them.
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.
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.
Hall of Fame Recognizes Leaders in Basketball for Humanitarian Efforts
LAS VEGAS, NV (July 11, 2019) – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced this evening from NBA Summer League in Las Vegas the winners of the 2019 Mannie Jackson - Basketball’s Human Spirit Award. They are nine-time NBA All-Star, Baltimore native and community activist Carmelo Anthony; Harlem Globetrotter, motivational speaker and literacy advocate TyRone Brown; and three-time Olympic gold medalist and community leader Dawn Staley. The winners will be recognized on Thursday, September 5that the Reunion Dinner at the Hall of Fame during Enshrinement Weekend.
“The Basketball Hall of Fame is proud to recognize Carmelo Anthony, TyRone Brown and Dawn Staley for the positive impact they have had on a national and global scale,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “The Mannie Jackson Award is an esteemed honor awarded to those with the highest level of dedication to using their platforms and resources to make an impact in the lives of others, and these honorees have exemplified their dedication to a variety of worthy causes.”
Established in 2007, the Mannie Jackson - Basketball’s Human Spirit Award honors individuals who have found the game of basketball to be a contributing aspect of their personal growth and accomplishment, a place to develop an understanding of others and an avenue that has helped shape his or her growth into a recognized visionary leader. Winners must reflect the values of Mannie Jackson’s life-long mission to overcome obstacles and challenge the status quo, while taking responsibility for his or her actions and seeking the highest standard of excellence.
“A Hall of Fame should recognize great athletes, but also the great people who are in athletics and are doing extraordinary things for their communities,” said Mannie Jackson, the Award’s namesake. “I am proud to say the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Leadership continues doing an extraordinary job of identifying the ‘greats’ in the basketball community who do positive things for Humankind.”
Anthony, Brown and Staley were chosen from a large candidate pool that represents every level of basketball and is reviewed annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Mr. Jackson.
Jackson has served as a positive example and role model to his peers, in addition to his tremendous business success. A former star for the Harlem Globetrotters, Jackson served as a senior executive for Honeywell Inc. during the 1980’s and early 1990’s and saved the Globetrotters from near extinction in 1993 when he purchased the team. In doing so, Mannie Jackson became the first African-American owner of a major international sports and entertainment organization. In a short period of time, Jackson revived the organization and led the Globetrotters to record attendance and revenue growth while expanding the influence of the Globetrotters to more than 118 countries. Under Jackson’s watch, the Globetrotters charitable contributions totaled over $15 million and in 2002 the Harlem Globetrotters were elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 2012, Jackson penned his bestselling autobiography, “Boxcar To Boardrooms” and continues to donate generously to numerous causes including the University of Illinois, South African youth funds, Cancer Research and the Basketball Hall of Fame. He is also active in promoting the mission of the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities located in his hometown Edwardsville, Illinois while serving as the Center’s lead investor. He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
The Mannie Jackson - Basketball’s Human Spirit Award Winners 2019
Carmelo Anthony – Carmelo Anthony has demonstrated the importance of taking action to implement change. A nine-time NBA All-Star, three-time Olympic gold medalist, Anthony has committed his time and resources to positively impact his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. In 2006, he helped fund the revitalization of a local community center for local youth and opened The Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center. Additionally, Anthony has contributed $1.5 million to the Living Classrooms Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides innovative hands-on-education, job-training and community service programs for over 35,000 children, youth, and young adults in the East Baltimore community. On a national scale, Anthony has taken an active role in the wake of violence between police and African-Americans by organizing and delivering a powerful speech on the ESPYS stage denouncing all forms of violence. He continued this activism by marching with protestors of police brutality and organizing a townhall forum in Los Angeles that brought together black and Latino teenagers with local police officers. His continued efforts towards unity have inspired friends and teammates to also get involved. Recently, Anthony pledged 3 million dollars to his alma mater, Syracuse University, for the development of a new basketball practice facility.
TyRone Brown – TyRone “Hollywood” Brown’s unique ability to turn life lessons into life’s blessings has given him a unique perspective on helping others. Brown is recognized as a talented member of the Harlem Globetrotters, but his social impact far exceeds what he has accomplished on the court. Brown is currently a literacy and character educational speaker for school districts, corporations and nonprofits across the United States and Canada. As a children’s author himself, the National Education Association commissioned him as their reading and literacy spokesperson for three consecutive years. In 2017, he started the Ambassadors of Responsibility Foundation to enable former teammates to better serve elementary and middle school students across the country. The foundation is a conduit to fight, and ultimately eradicate, illiteracy via books and school-wide enrichment programs. To that end, Brown visits 100 schools per year and delivers books to students at failing or underperforming schools. Brown credits his success to perseverance, as told in his children’s book called “A Piece of Paper.”
Dawn Staley – Dawn Staley has cemented her legacy in basketball as a three-time Olympic Gold medalist, six-time WNBA All-Star and one of the league’s Top 15 Players of All-Time. Off the court, she has found purpose in helping those in need. In 1996, she founded the Dawn Staley Foundation to provide a multi-faceted academic, athletic, and community program to empower middle school girls. In addition to her personal foundation, she also co-founded INNERSOLE to provide new sneakers to homeless and children in low-income households. Staley’s commitment to the community has earned her many accolades including the Red Cross Spectrum Award, Henry P. Iba Citizenship Award and South Carolina’s highest civilian honor for achievement and service to the state. Since 2007, the WNBA has presented a community leadership award bearing her name. Staley is currently the head coach for University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball, where she led her team to a national championship in 2017. Staley’s constant focus on the betterment of herself, her team and her community continues to inspire others.
The Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award Winners 2007-2018
2018: J.J. Barea, Tina Charles and Boris Diaw
2017: Bob Hurley, Nancy Lieberman, Dwyane Wade
2016: Chris Paul, Jalen Rose, Tubby Smith
2015: Paul Fireman, Bill Self, Steve Smith
2014: Bob Delaney, Robert L. Johnson
2013: Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Pat Summitt,
2012: Jim Calhoun, Grant Hill, Dr. Richard Lapchick
2011: Chauncey Billups, Dr. John “Jumpin’ Johnny” Kline, The V Foundation
2010: Jim Boeheim, Samuel Dalembert, Alfreda Harris
2009: Ken Hudson, Bob Lanier, Alonzo Mourning
2008: Sonny Hill, David Robinson
2007: Dikembe Mutombo
About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was born, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting, preserving and celebrating the game of basketball at every level – men and women, amateur and professional players, coaches and contributors, both domestically and internationally. The Hall of Fame museum is home to more than 400 inductees and over 40,000 square feet of basketball history. Nearly 200,000 people visit the Hall of Fame museum each year to learn about the game, experience the interactive exhibits and test their skills on the Jerry Colangelo "Court of Dreams." Best known for its annual marquee Enshrinement Ceremony honoring the game’s elite, the Hall of Fame also operates over 70 high school and collegiate competitions annually throughout the country and abroad. For more information on the Basketball Hall of Fame organization, its museum and events, visit www.hoophall.com, follow @hoophall #MannieJacksonAward or call 1-877-4HOOPLA.
Howard stands at the podium, taking a deep breath as those in the room applaud
and cheer. About to speak, he stops. He bows his head and covers his eyes before
they begin to swell with tears – tears that embody the emotion Howard feels in
this punctuating moment for what has been a crazy few days.
around with his back facing the wall, taking a few final deep breaths to
joy,” he says.
understand the tears if you understand the place. Juwan Howard is back in Ann
Arbor at the University of Michigan, where he once captivated the country as a
player. This time around, Howard is donning a block “M” pin on his lapel – he’s
just been introduced as the head men’s basketball coach.
tell Howard is reflecting back to the journey that led him to this defining
moment in his career. He mentions the last time he had a press conference at
Michigan, where he was declaring for the 1994 NBA Draft. Howard touched on his
late grandmother and best friend and what they meant to him, before speaking to
the tradition and pride he has to coach his new players – his new family.
calls this his “dream job,” and tells the origin story of his path to Ann Arbor
more than two decades ago. Howard is raw and genuine, his words impassioned.
It’s clear just how much this all means to him.
Howard is home.
Howard sits at a table during Big Ten Media Day in Chicago, and he sticks out
like a sore thumb.
the only head coach without previous college coaching experience. The other 13
coaches in the Big Ten Conference average 24.5 years of college coaching
experience, and 12 of them have 15 or more years of college coaching under
there is Howard who took the Michigan head coaching job after he spent his
entire coaching career in the NBA from 2013-2019. After six seasons on the
Miami Heat bench under head coach Erik Spoelstra, Howard jumped at the
opportunity to return to his alma mater, despite frequently being a candidate
for NBA head coaching vacancies.
always been asked the question, ‘Will I ever want to coach college
basketball?’” Howard tells Legends Magazine. “My answer was always ‘One job, if
it became available. The University of Michigan.’”
core, the main part of Howard’s new job is comfortable to him. He has been
around the sport professionally for the past 25 years and around youth
basketball and AAU circuits through his sons. From a coaching and teaching
standpoint, Howard is confident his NBA experience will translate to the
It is all
the other stuff that is new and will take some getting used to, chiefly
recruiting. Howard is getting used to being on the phone a lot more to talk to
recruits, and that relationship-building isn’t something foreign to him. After
all, he was once at the other end of those calls as the recruited player.
rules and regulations will take some time to learn and understand,” Howard
says. In the NBA, for example, there is no limit on how often a coach can work
with players. At the college level, Howard can only work with players for a set
number of hours per day and week.
addition to his basketball duties of coaching and recruiting, Howard serves as
a face and ambassador for the school, which means meetings with alumni and
donors are also a major part of his job.
head coach in college, I’m not only coaching the players, but I’m helping run
an institution,” Howard says. “I have to choose my staff, hire those guys, make
sure I balance a budget. I’m like an Erik Spoelstra, a Pat Riley and Andy
Elisburg all in one.”
Howard makes the leap at a time when former NBA players are coming to college
seemingly in droves, with names like Penny Hardaway and Patrick Ewing also
returning to coach their alma maters. Success has been difficult to come by for
many of the former NBA players coaching in college, but there has been a clear
advantage in recruiting, particularly for Hardaway.
been a changing of the guard with coaches that have been around a long time,”
former NBA player and current Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse tells Legends
Magazine. “There’s a new wave of coaching. I think athletic directors are
thinking outside the box, just trying to find guys that can relate to this
generation of players…a lot of those guys are one-and-dones now coming into the
to that trend, Howard’s college teammate and current ESPN personality Jalen
Rose voiced his support on ESPN for Howard getting the Michigan job early in
the process, in part because of his ability as a recruiter.
be a terrific head coach,” Rose said. “He would be terrific at developing young
talent. He would own the Michigan market.”
Howard’s opening press conference at Michigan signified a symbolic beginning,
his first day of summer workouts was the real start.
then, when Howard walked into a gym with players to coach and a team to
prepare, that Howard finally felt he arrived.
that day, the first day of workouts, when it hit and sunk in. I’m the head
coach at the University of Michigan,” Howard says. “That was my epic moment, an
epic time of sinking in that ‘this is real now.’”
upcoming season will bring a number of firsts and milestones for Howard, who’s
ready to embark on his first season as a head coach. Now, as the season gets
going, and the initial emotions fade, everything turns to actual basketball.
prepares to lead a team for the first time as head coach, he thinks back to the
years he’s spent in and around the game, giving him a lifetime of experience to
fall back on. He knows he can do this.
this game before for many years, I’ve had a lot of success doing it at all
levels, high school, college and pro,” Howard says. “I’ve learned a lot, and I
know the game and I know I can coach the game.”
by Sean Deveney
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – It was a night for the overlooked, the underrated and the trailblazers whose contributions to the game have been too obscured by history.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame held its induction night this weekend and welcomed a field of new members that included center Vlade Divac, a pioneer of international basketball who was drafted from Yugoslavia by the Lakers in 1989 and went on to become the first player born and trained outside the U.S. to appear in 1,000 NBA games.
The group also included one of the WNBA’s first stars, Teresa Weatherspoon, as well as defensive stalwarts Sidney Moncrief and Bobby Jones, unique face-up center Jack Sikma, championship coach Bill Fitch and five-time NBA All-Star Paul Westphal.
Divac opened the night with a speech that set the tone for the entire collection of inductees, speaking about his love for the game and emphasis the game puts on selflessness.
“I believe love gives you the power to share your best self and to inspire others,” Divac said. “Love liberates you the power to make the impossible possible. Just like in life, when you play basketball you have to give in order to receive. On the court you are not just making moves alone, you are also giving your physical and mental strength, your passion, your talent, your trust in your teammates. This way, the power can multiply and the whole team wins. Basketball is the opposite of selfishness.”
That resonated throughout Symphony Hall. Also inducted on Friday were Al Attles, who has been the face of the Warriors franchise for six decades—as a player, a coach and a franchise ambassador. Attles, chosen as a contributor, witnessed Golden State’s most recent dynasty, but was also on the floor as a point guard back when the team was based in Philadelphia in 1962, when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game.
But, asked about the game earlier in the week, Attles was quick to point out that even Chamberlain’s dominating individual achievement had a team feel to it. “Well, I always remind people that we won the game, that’s the first thing,” Attles said. “The other thing is that Wilt tried to come out of the game. He did not want to score 100.”
Also inducted were Chuck Cooper, the first black player to be drafted by an NBA team; Carl Braun, a five-time NBA All-Star who played 13 seasons from 1947-62 and coached the Knicks briefly; the all-black Tennessee A&I teams (now Tennessee State) of 1957-59, which traveled to national tournaments, challenged segregation and were the first team to win three straight championships at any collegiate level; and the women’s teams of Wayland Baptist University (1948-82), who won 10 AAU championships and once won 131 consecutive games.
The honor was probably overdue for both Moncrief, who made five All-Star teams and won the first two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, and Sikma, who made seven All-Star teams and averaged 15.6 points with 9.8 rebounds. Sikma was also instrumental in bringing the 1979 NBA title to Seattle in his second NBA season.
But Sikma was best known for developing a step-back, face-up shot that became known as the “Sikma move.” It has regained popularity in the modern NBA, with fewer back-to-the-basket centers, but Sikma said it started mostly out of necessity—he grew 10 inches in his final two years of high school and arrived at tiny Illinois Wesleyan, as he described it, as a, “6-11, 195-pound specimen.”
Sikma recalled that, in his first Summer League game after being drafted by Lenny Wilkens and the Sonics in 1977, he had the misfortune of going against Moses Malone, who as already established as a star center. Because players can’t foul out in Summer League, Sikma said Malone wound up with 30-something points while Sikma had 10 fouls.
“The owner was there,” Sikma said, “and asked Lenny, ‘Is that our first-round draft pick?’”
The night was highlighted by the speech from Weatherspoon, whose passion for the game remains palpable even 15 years after her retirement. Weatherspoon won a gold medal with Team USA in 1988 and played overseas for 10 years before the advent of the WNBA. She created one of the great moments in league history when, playing for the New York Liberty in the 1999 Finals, she launched a buzzer-beater from beyond halfcourt that went in for a Game 2 win.
Speaking to her two brothers and three sisters seated nearby, Weatherspoon said, “I never had to look outside my family for my heroes. … I was well-protected, well-watched over and I hope that you know that everything about you, I watched. I took it from you, I took your perseverance, I took your consistency, I took your dedication, I took your determination, I took it and I ran with it. And I hope that I made you tremendously proud.
“We’ve gone through a lot together, we’ve done a lot together, we fought together. Tonight, we go in together.”
She went in, indeed, with a well-rounded group that finally got their due. It was a celebration of the hard-working stars, the players and coaches who often gave up the notoriety and big headlines to sacrifice for winning.
As Moncrief put it, “I take great pride being inducted into this Hall. But as I was trying to think of, what do you talk about? It’s not really about me. It’s not about a speech. It’s about the game of basketball. The game of basketball that has changed everyone’s life in this room.”
Have you heard of Chasity Melvin? If not, wake up!
Melvin is the epitome of what it means to dream big.
Her saying, “you can’t dream big enough” has carried her through a career
spanning more than 20 years, 12 as a professional in the WNBA. Originally from
Roseboro, North Carolina, Melvin attended North Carolina State University,
where she led the program to its first Final Four appearance during her senior
season in 1998. Following graduation, she was selected 11th overall in the 1999
WNBA draft and spent time with the Cleveland Rockers, Washington Mystics and
“I was reminded of that growing up in a small town,”
Melvin said of her ‘dream big’ saying. “I know what it’s like to set a goal,
achieve it and realize my dream.”
Melvin retired from professional
basketball in 2010 and was faced with a crossroad. Her desire to return to the
game in a coaching role was initially faced with some resistance. Her lack of
true coaching experience and available positions in the WNBA made it hard for
Melvin to make a seamless transition to the coaching ranks upon graduation.
“When I initially retired, people didn’t want to hire
me because I didn’t have enough coaching experience,” Melvin said. “For me, I
played for eight different coaches in my 12-year WNBA career. I played for a
lot of different systems and NBA coaches. I felt like I had enough experience
that should’ve given me that first opportunity.”
Enter the NBA Assistant Coaches Program (ACP).
Through the NBA ACP, former NBA and WNBA players interested in coaching at the
collegiate and professional levels can gain real experience and mentorship from
the game’s best coaches.
“It was a great avenue for me to get in front of people
who could get me to where I needed to be,” Melvin said. “I needed that
experience to get an opportunity and the NBA ACP gave that to me.”
Through her participation in the NBA ACP, Melvin
realized that there might be more opportunities outside of coaching women. “It
gave me the idea that maybe I could coach on the men’s side,” Melvin said.
“With the limited opportunities on the women’s side, this just made sense.”
Within two months of completing the program, Melvin
landed her first full-time coaching role with the Greensboro Swarm in the NBA G
League. As an assistant coach, Melvin was able to use her personal experiences
during her professional career to relate to the players. “I’ve been part of the
professional game. I was in their spot at one time,” she said.
“It meant everything to get this opportunity,” Melvin
said. “For me, it was both challenging and rewarding at the same time. To be
part of helping these guys realize their dreams was special. I know what it’s
like to set a goal, to play pro and achieve that dream.”
Melvin found immediate success by leveraging her unique
journey and playing experiences. Her insightful perspective and first-hand view
of the game allowed her to gain the most out of her first season with the
“At the end of the day, I learned that basketball is
just basketball. Same plays, special situations, scouting. It’s all the same,”
Melvin said. “I know the level of confidence you need to have to succeed at
this level. I’ve done it. I’ve experienced it. And it gave me great pride that
I could share those experiences and help these guys further their careers.”
The opportunity also gave Melvin a new perspective on
the G League and the opportunities it can create for players. While she
continues to dream big herself, she is now able to share that message with
“It’s not just about moving up to the NBA,” Melvin
said. “It’s also just as much about securing a great opportunity overseas to
support themselves and their families. There are so many opportunities these
guys can get from playing in the G League and so many awesome memories to be
made. Outside of the basketball court, I could relate to these guys more on a
personal level. That is where I’ve succeeded the most.”
CHICAGO, IL – The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) continues to deliver on its mission of providing educational opportunities to former basketball players and their families. Through the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund, the NBRPA awarded 87 undergraduate and graduate scholarships to its membership. The scholarship, initiated in honor of the late Dave DeBusschere, provides financial support to eligible NBRPA members, their spouses, children and grandchildren in pursuit of degrees in higher education.
“There is nothing more motivating than giving our children and families opportunities to do great things,” said Board Chairman Spencer Haywood. “We hope this scholarship is just the beginning of a bright future ahead for them.”
Ten select DeBusschere scholarship recipients also received the Earl Lloyd Scholarship which is awarded to applicants in-need of additional support. The NBA Players Legacy Fund, which provides this additional assistance to members in-need, awarded 10 recipients a scholarship in excess of $50,000. Collectively, the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund and Earl Lloyd Scholarship distributed $260,000 amongst eligible students in 2019.
Over the past two years, the NBRPA has distributed 130-plus scholarships and more than $500,000 in total payouts. To date, the NBRPA has awarded members and their families more than $1.6 million in scholarships through the cornerstone initiative.
In addition to the college scholarships, the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund supports the NBRPA Chapter Program’s annual Reading Initiative, wherein educational programs in the twelve chapter cities receive funding.
See below for a full list of the 2019 Dave DeBusschere Scholarship recipients: