David DeBusschere

An NBA Hall-of-Famer and one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-Time, Dave DeBusschere was known for aggressive defensive play that earned him NBA All-Defensive Team honors six times during his 12-year playing career. For his career, DeBusschere averaged 16.1 points and 11 rebounds per game, won two NBA Championships as a member of the New York Knicks and was named to eight NBA All-Star teams. He is memorialized by the NBRPA through the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund.

DeBusschere, also known as “Big D", shared a love for both basketball and baseball at a young age. A Detroit native, he was a two-sport star at Austin Catholic High School. He led his high school basketball team to a state championship and also won a city and junior national championship as a standout baseball pitcher. When it came time for college, DeBusschere had his pick of schools, but he turned down the big names to stay home and attend the University of Detroit.

During his four years in college, DeBusschere averaged 24.8 points per game, led his team to the NCAA Tournament once and the NIT twice. After a successful college career, DeBusschere was faced with a tough decision to choose between his two passions: Baseball or basketball.

A precursor to two-sport stars like Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders, DeBusschere  tried his hand at both. He played professional baseball with the Chicago White Sox for four seasons, then turned his focus to the hardwood. The Detroit Pistons selected DeBusschere in the 1962 NBA Draft. Earning a spot on the All-Rookie Team his first year, he averaged 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Two years later, he was given the position of player-coach, a first in NBA history.

The coaching job was short-lived, as the 1968-1969 NBA season saw him being traded to the New York Knicks, where DeBusschere would go on to reach legendary status. DeBusschere brought his tenacity and hard-nosed defense to a Knicks team that won the NBA Championship in both 1970 and 1973. To this day, he is regarded as one of the greatest and most talented power forwards the league has ever seen.

After retiring from basketball in 1974, DeBusschere remained very involved in the game. During the 1980s, he was the commissioner of the ABA, as well as the assistant coach and director of basketball operations for the Knicks. He added to his legend when the Knicks won the NBA’s first draft lottery and DeBusschere selected Patrick Ewing No. 1 overall. In addition, he went on to author "The Open Man," which chronicled the New York Knicks 1969-1970 Championship Season.

On May 14, 2003, DeBusschere passed away in New York at the age of 62. He will forever be remembered as one of the greatest NBA players of All-Time. The NBRPA established a scholarship fund in 1992 and renamed the fund to honor DeBusschere after his death. A flagship program for the NBRPA’s Legends Care philanthropic arm, the Dave DeBusschere NBRPA Scholarship Fund is dedicated to providing opportunities for higher learning. This program awards college scholarship dollars to former professional basketball players and their children to help meet the rising costs of higher education. Through the Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund, the NBRPA has donated more than $1 million in scholarship money to former players and their children.

Oscar Robertson, also known as "The Big O", is considered the greatest all-around player in the history of basketball. As a players’ advocate, he has left his mark on professional sports in the courtroom as well as on the court. A consummate leader, he also has distinguished himself as a social activist, a mentor and teacher, a business owner, and a philanthropist.

On the court, the 6-foot-5 Robertson set new standards of excellence at every level. The first big point guard who could score from anywhere, rebound, pass, and play defense; he created a template for later stars. In 1998, the U.S. Basketball Writers renamed their Player of the Year award "The Oscar Robertson Trophy". In 2000, he was named “Player of the Century” by the NABC.

As president of the NBA Players Association from 1965-74, he made an even bigger impact on basketball with a class action anti-trust lawsuit against the NBA. A 1976 settlement, known as the "Oscar Robertson Rule", helped NBA players become the first major professional athletes to achieve free agency. In 1992, Robertson co-founded the NBRPA and served as its first president until 1998.

Robertson was born in Charlotte, Tenn. and raised in Indianapolis, where he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class at Crispus Attucks High School. He led the Attucks to two consecutive state titles – the first for an African-American or an Indianapolis school – and a national championship, the first by an African-American school in any sport. As a senior, he was Indiana’s “Mr. Basketball” and national high school player of the year.

At the University of Cincinnati, "The Big O" earned a business degree in four years and led the Bearcats to the 1959 and 1960 Final Fours. A three-time first team All-American, he was the NCAA’s first three-time scoring leader and the first to win College Player of the Year honors three times. Following graduation, he co-captained the Pete Newell-coached 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal team. He is listed among the NCAA’s all-time leading student athletes, and in 2007, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Cincinnati.

During his 14-year Hall of Fame NBA career – 10 with Cincinnati and four with Milwaukee – he led his teams to 10 playoff appearances. He was Rookie of the Year in 1961, MVP in 1964, a 12-time All-Star, and MVP in three All-Star games. In 1961-62, he averaged the first and only “triple double” for an entire season (30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, 11.4 assists per game).

In 1997, "The Big O" performed the assist of a lifetime when he donated a kidney to his daughter Tia. Since then, he has served as an advocate for health and wellness, organ transplantation and kidney disease prevention on behalf of the National Kidney Foundation.

One of the nation’s leading small business owners, Robertson is the CEO of companies in the areas of specialty chemicals, document management, processed foods and media. He holds a Lifetime Achievement Award for entrepreneurship from the University of Cincinnati, also where the Oscar and Yvonne Robertson Scholarship Fund assists deserving minority students.

Robertson is the author of autobiography, “The Big O: My Life, My Times, My Game,” and “The Art of Basketball”.

Dave Cowens earned a berth in the Basketball Hall of Fame because of his tenacity and work ethic as a mainstay of the Boston Celtics in the 1970s, leading the team to NBA Championships in 1974 and 1976. Playing in the era of Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain, and "Pistol Pete" Maravich, Cowens didn't possess the flash and glitz of those high-profile superstars. Instead, it was Cowens' consistency, work ethic, unselfishness, versatility and energy that established him as one of the most solid and respected centers in recent NBA history.

Of his 11 years in the league, all but one was spent with the Boston Celtics. An unlikely hero in a sport dominated by men of greater size and natural ability, the red-haired lefthander relied on hustle and heart to achieve NBA greatness. His determination helped to resurrect a Celtics dynasty presumed dead after the departure of legend Bill Russell. Cowens ultimately joined his venerated predecessor in the Hall of Fame, a feat he never dreamed of achieving.

Thought a native of Newport, Ky., Cowens left the Bluegrass State and headed south to Florida State after averaging 13 points and 20 rebounds per game as a senior at Newport Catholic High School. Cowens continued to rebound as a Seminole, pulling down 1,340 boards during his three varsity seasons in Tallahassee. He also scored 19.0 points per game and shot .519 from the floor.

Celtics General Manager Red Auerbach realized that he needed someone to at least attempt to fill the shoes of Bill Russell, whose retirement after the 1968-69 championship season left the Celtics a team that could only muster 34 wins the following year, despite the presence of the great John Havlicek. He liked Cowens' hard-working attitude and work ethic, so Boston made Cowens the fourth overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft.

Cowens averaged 17.0 points and 15.4 rebounds as a rookie, the most ever by a first-year Celtics player besides Bill Russell. Cowens' achievements earned him a share of the NBA Rookie of the Year honors, with Geoff Petrie of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Celtics improved to 44-38, and Cowens quickly won accolades for his hustle, mobility, tenacity and unselfish approach to the game.

Cowens improved to 18.8 points per game on .484 field goal shooting in his second NBA season as the Celtics adjusted to life without Russell. In his first of seven All-Star Game appearances, Cowens scored 14 points and pulled down a game-high 20 rebounds.

In the 1972-73 campaign, Boston honed its fast break while Cowens perfected his rebounding skills, averaging 16.2 boards. Playing in every game and logging 41.8 minutes per night, Cowens posted a career-high average of 20.5 points. In just his third season, Cowens joined legends Bob Cousy and Bill Russell as the only Celtics to win the league's Most Valuable Player Award.

"Celtics Pride" returned to full bloom in 1973-74, a year in which Cowens averaged 19.0 points, 15.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists, leading Boston to a 56-26 record and the NBA Championship. The word "dynasty" was once again used to describe the Celtics as the team's winning ways continued through the mid-1970s, including a second league crown for Cowens-led Boston in 1976.

During his NBA career, Cowens averaged 17.6 points and 13.6 rebounds per game, was selected to seven All-Star Games, was named to the All-NBA Second Team three times, and was named to the All-NBA Defensive First Team in 1976 and All-NBA Defensive Second Team in 1973 and 1980.

Cowen had a successful coaching career after his playing days, though he actually began his coaching career as player/coach for the Boston Celtics during the 1978-79 season.  Cowens coached the Bay State Bombardiers of the Continental Basketball Association in 1984-85. From 1994-1996 he served as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs and finally became head coach of the Charlotte Hornets from 1996-1999 and Golden State Warriors from 1999-2001. In 2005 Cowens crossed over to the WNBA and coached the Chicago Sky for the beginning of the 2006 season, before joining the Detroit Pistons as an assistant.

Cowen’s was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991 and is a Founder of the NBRPA.

Discovered on an Air Force base in Maryland, Archie Clark was a standout on the University of Minnesota’s basketball and baseball teams in the 1960s. He ranks among many Golden Gophers in the basketball history books and was part of Dick Seibert’s storied National Championship baseball team. He was also one of the first African-Americans to be named captain at the school in any sport.

Born in Arkansas, Clark was the fourth child in a family of 12. His passion for sports began on the baseball field in 1946 when he was five years old. He even made the junior high school swimming team, but didn’t start playing basketball until he reached the 10th grade. Clark shined on the basketball court and the baseball field. Following high school, he looked for work in the steel mills, but due to the recession, joined the Army where he remained for three years. Lucky for the University of Minnesota, Clark may have missed his major league opportunity when the Detroit Tigers invited him to spring training 10 days after joining the Army.

Attached to an Air Force missile unit in Maryland, he participated on the Andrews Air Force Base intramural basketball team. His coach, Buzz Bennett, a former Minnesota basketball player, was captured by Clark’s talents and gave a Minnesota assistant a call. At 21 years old, Clark accepted a scholarship. He now sits 19th on the school history list with 1,199 total points. He is listed among other Gophers for record-breaking career performances, including a scoring average of 16.7 points to place 10th all-time for career scoring average and ninth for free-throws made with 291. He was named MVP in 1966.

Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1966 NBA Draft, Clark enjoyed a 10-year NBA career, including stops with the Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Baltimore Bullets, Seattle Supersonics and Detroit Pistons. Following his playing days, he got involved with a number of endeavors including Detroit politics, real estate, and became president of a Detroit parking firm and a joint partner with APCOA, one of the nation’s largest private parking operators.

Clark is one of five founders of the NBRPA and an active member of the Detroit-area NAACP. He is also the proud father of eight children and six grandchildren.

It’s not often, if at all, that one can claim success in three distinct areas—professional sports, business and politics. Yet, Dave Bing did just that when he was elected the 62nd Mayor of the City of Detroit in May 2009 as part of a special election. A native of Washington, D.C., Bing is a graduate of Syracuse University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and was later bestowed an honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2006. He was also a standout basketball player and an All American in both high school and college.

Bing came to Detroit in 1966 when he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons as their No. 1 pick, and the second overall pick in the NBA draft that year. Unlike many first-year players, Bing’s transition to the NBA was an easy one. His 1,601 points earned him Rookie of the Year and further propelled him into NBA stardom.

Throughout his 12 seasons in the NBA, Bing averaged 20.3 points and 6 assists per game, appeared in seven All-Star Games and was named to the All-NBA First Team in 1968 and 1969. After spending the majority of his career with the Pistons, Bing did go on to play two years with the Washington Bullets and one year with the Boston Celtics. Bing hung up his sneakers at the conclusion of the 1977-78 season. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1990, as well as the the Michigan Hall of Fame in 1984.

Bing turned his winning strategies from the basketball court to the boardroom as the founder of an automotive supply corporation, The Bing Group in 1980, where he served as President and Chairman until April 2009.  Bing realized yet another level of success in this role, as The Bing Group has been recognized around the country as a premier supplier of quality and uncompromised products and service. Within a decade, The Bing Group was recognized as one of the nation’s top Minority-Owned Companies by Black Enterprise.  In the summer of 1999, he partnered with Ford Motor Co. to build the Detroit Manufacturing Training Center, a nonprofit facility to help prepare unemployed and under-employed workers to obtain jobs in the auto supply industry.

Answering yet another call to serve, Bing decided to run for Mayor of Detroit to help rebuild a city that he has loved and been a part of for more than 40 years. Proving that the basics of good performance, integrity and business can be applied to any area or industry, Bing has brought a renewed sense of trust and hope to the City of Detroit.

Poised to make the tough decisions, he has already begun to lay the groundwork for solid city government by instituting the toughest ethics ordinance in the city’s history. He and his team of professionals are also carefully analyzing ways to restructure operations to improve efficiency, and to tackle the city’s systemic issues.

Bing is married to Yvette Bing, with whom he has shared more than 23 years. He is also the proud father of three, and grandfather of four. He still enjoys tennis and golf, as much as his now demanding schedule will allow.