For a player entering the final stage of their playing career, there is one question that seems to be omnipresent: “What’s next?” Recognizing that this can be a daunting question for anyone to be asked, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) collaboratively put measures in place to help provide answers, and guidance for the next phase of professional basketball player’s lives. 

As part of an extraordinary working relationship between both organizations, an aptly named “Off The Court” program was created that is proving vital for players transitioning to life away from being on the hardwood.

Since inception in 2017, the program has assisted over 400 players by serving as a bridge to collaborate and connect members to their respective areas of interest. While some players may look at coaching options, others may be looking to build their business network or their charitable work in their communities. Others may just be looking to expand on the brotherhood and camaraderie from their playing days. Whatever avenue our members are looking to travel down, the “Off The Court” program serves a unique purpose in creating an extremely adaptable roadmap for the next phase of their professional lives. NBPA Director Mario West recently sat down to speak with Legends Magazine about the benefits of the program, and he explained that the “NBPA’s aim is to celebrate the feat of playing in the NBA, but that celebration doesn’t stop when they stop playing. In fact, ‘Off The Court’ is a continuation of celebrating their success and their specific skill set that continues to create a culture of achievement in transition.” Added West, “We have many players that after going through the program have asked to be part of the future of the program by returning to speak to the next generation of former players about the benefits of the program and showcase how it has helped them.” 

Among the programs readily available to all NBRPA members are the Assistant Coaches program (in which the NBPA, NBRPA and NBA work very closely to guide players interested in pursuing coaching as a potential career on the latest coaching and analytics methods), the NBRPA’s Health Screening program to promote healthy lifestyles, and the various NBRPA gatherings throughout the year including the Legends Summer Getaway, NBA and WNBA All-Star Weekends and the Pre-Draft Combine Player’s Party held annually in Chicago. “These NBRPA events, along with the support mechanisms put in place by ‘Off The Court,’ show our players that the brotherhood and network is still alive and well and more importantly, here to serve them,” said West. 

When asked about expansion and the impact of the program, West told us that the NBPA shares best practices with other player unions and alumni associations including the WNBPA, MLBPA, MLSPA and NFLPA and that sharing of information has been very warmly received. According to West, who borrows terminology from another sport: “Success is not measured by hitting home runs, but by hitting singles. This accumulation of successes shows our members that the special gift that the have as professional athletes, can translate into an infinite number of opportunities in their post-playing endeavors.” 

Whatever pursuits a player may have, this program and the teamwork between the NBPA, NBA and NBRPA, shows our membership the importance of brotherhood and community among players and brings us closer to our ultimate goal of building and growing a supportive environment that creates stability, wellness and growth for all that take part.

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