Scott Rochelle | Rethinking the NBRPA

Scott Rochelle, president of the National Basketball Retired Players Association, discusses efforts to restructure the alumni group and embrace a more digitally-oriented future.

Scott Rochelle, president of the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA)

The fastest growing, most engaged, and usually overlooked demographic in the world are those aged 50 and older. They are living longer, are more socially savvy and diverse in their interests, and have what those younger than them do not have: a wealth of life experience that can be shared, and morphed into what is coming next. And what can come next is both powerful and impactful.

It is what we here at the National Basketball Retired Players Association are so excited about, as “retirement” is not the sad and disappointing word that it used to be, not just for society, but for the more than 1,000 men and women athletes we represent. That’s especially true for the group of players that has just left the court as digital-first natives, and not only have not yet hit that miracle mark of 50 but have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, now with a global audience.

We are well aware of what some people think when they hear “retired players,” or even “legends.” That typically connotes older men who starred in their glorious youth on the court, and now are looking for “what’s next,” which in years past might have meant just broadcasting, or appearances at an event or an autograph show.

But that’s not the definition of who our organization represents today. We represent young tech entrepreneurs, media mavens, savvy business professionals, community activists, and company chief executives in addition to those men and women who have found themselves active in coaching, mentoring, and traditional media.

And today, with our colleagues at Athletes First Partners who have used their decades of leadership and experience helped us formulate and execute this new vibrant business, we are able to wrangle all those stories, and all that vast experience away from the court, into a cohesive and diverse offering for the business world and the consumer that is craving access and expertise like never before.

While we still are Earl Monroe, Magic Johnson, and Junior Bridgeman, we are also Vince Carter, Grant Hill, Rex Chapman, Sheryl Swoopes, Tamika Catchings, Caron Butler, and Shaquille O’Neal, a diverse, forward thinking, digital savvy, and engaged group who is shaping minds, opinions, and brands like never before.

Earlier this year we were able to find the best way to pull all that storytelling and brand power into one central platform with the creation of Legends Media & Entertainment, a one-stop shop for digital storytelling for all our members. There we are able to bring together through all forms of media: video, spoken word, print, and social, harnessing the power of what our members are doing in the business and professional and personal world.

They are able to share their life stories on and off the court, and it has become a hub of information and excitement for partners regionally and locally, one which has continued to grow month after month since its debut earlier this summer.

We have been able to use Legends Media & Entertainment as the first bridge to business access to the consumer who continues to love all things basketball, but may not be able to connect with the current players of the National Basketball Association because of current players’ commitment right now to job one, which is playing and competing at the highest levels.

What we can now offer is that link to the stars of the recent past, such as David Robinson on finance, Jalen Rose on media, Lisa Leslie on life leadership, figures who are not just known, but now known well because of the advent of social media, and figures who consumers and brands would like to know more of. This creates deeper life conversations that can lead to even more value because these athletes now have the benefit of time and experience on their side, and we can deliver those stories in whatever medium is now needed.

While there is no replacing the interest in the current established and rising stars of the NBA and the Women’s National Basketball Association, we know that having the experience of a new, diverse, and slightly mature workforce has growing value, and we are here to help marry all the parties to not just build the second careers of our group, but to help consumers of a global audience listen to and engage with relatable stories.

Those relatable stories can be both global conversations and hyperlocal ones. After all, these athletes and personalities have deep community ties from where they played, went to school, and grew up that can be reimagined as well. When athletes leave the court their fan base doesn’t drop off. It grows, especially with the freedom to opine on differ topics.

While they may have left the fourth quarter of their playing careers, the first quarter of their careers in business, social media engagement, and community social responsibility is really just getting started, and those careers will last way beyond the time they had actually playing the game.

“Retired” may have been a quaint phrase for the gray haired once. Now for us, it means much more, as the door of opportunity not only swings open, it is knocked off the hinges for our members who have more to offer for a longer period than ever before. And we are here to help them shout those stories to an audience hungry to watch and listen.

Scott Rochelle is the president and chief executive of the National Basketball Retired Players Association