February 19, 2017

The NBRPA’s All-Star Saturday began at the Westin Hotel Ballroom, along with Athletes in Action, for the Athletes in Action 2017 All-Star Breakfast presented by Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

The event provided an opportunity to honor the individual spirit, highlight in how hard work and good deeds can the game, and change a life. The first award winner Randy Pond said he couldn’t understand how anyone could not have faith when times get tough. “When you look at how God can change your life by trusting in him, it just makes sense to me,” he said.

The event then shifted to a discussion NBPA and NBA representatives discussing their shared success in player pensions and health care in the new CBA. This new agreement provides the best benefits package ever offered and includes significantly improved benefits when retired players turn 50.

The crowd then welcomed to the stage the big man in the room- Shaquille O’Neil. During the conversation, Shaq's personality and humor we're on full display, beginning with his wish that the event could have started at 10:30 a.m. instead of 8:30 a.m. He said he always wanted to be a break-dancer than a rapper, then an actor “until I made Shazaam,” said Shaq. So he decided he made the right choice with basketball. “The true legends - Dr. J, Magic, Michael Jordan - they are the ones who made the game possible for all of us,” said Shaq.

The breakfast then recognized local ordinary people doing extraordinary things, much like the legends themselves. Those honored were New Orleans barber Wilbert “Chill” Wilson and legendary chef and restaurateur Leah Chase, both of whom persevered through the catastrophic impact of the flooding following Hurricane Katrina to help the city and community of New Orleans become stronger than ever.

The culmination of the event was the deserving honors to former NBA Coach/GM Randy Pfund with the 2017 Jerry Colangelo Award and 12-year NBA veteran Mike James with the 2017 Bobby Jones Award.

The Jerry Colangelo Award, named in honor of the Basketball Hall of Famer and former CEO of the Phoenix Suns & current Chairman of USA Basketball, awarded for unparalleled professionalism both on and off the court by showing strong character, integrity, and leadership.

The Bobby Jones Award, named after former All-Star Bobby Jones, is annually given to a current or former NBA player exhibiting exceptional integrity and service both on and off the court.

The event was made possible by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, who recently teamed up with Xarelto in an effort to provide the best healthcare methods to professional basketball players. Janssen Pharmaceuticals strives to provide access to effective and affordable medicines and related healthcare services to the people who need them and is proud to help present such a positive event.

Later in the day, about 25 legends and family showed up at NOLA Motorsports in Avondale to race Lamborghinis, Corvettes, Porches and other high-flying cars. Some of the legends we're just too tall to fit in any of the cars with the proper safety equipment so they were not able to race at full speed but they were still allowed some monitored use of the cars on the track.

After a hard day of networking, work, play and Mardi Gras parades, the Legends of the NBRPA made their way to the Gem Saloon to enjoy a private party among their peers and families.
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. Arnie D. Fielkow is the President & CEO, and the NBRPA Board of Directors includes Chairman of the Board Thurl Bailey, Vice Chairman Dwight Davis, Treasurer Eldridge Recasner, Secretary Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry, James Donaldson, Mike Glenn, Spencer Haywood, LaRue Martin Jr., Dave Naves, Johnny Newman and Casey Shaw.