Q+A: Jalen Rose

From our friends at NBRPA:

The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA), the only alumni association comprised of former NBA, ABA, Harlem Globetrotters and WNBA players, announced the appointment of former NBA and collegiate basketball standout and current ESPN/ABC analyst Jalen Rose as the organization’s official ambassador. In his new role, Rose will assist the NBRPA in shaping its programming to assist former players in life after basketball and serve communities. Rose will also serve as an official spokesperson for the organization and help introduce the organization and its benefits to other former players.

In the spirit of Jalen’s jersey No. 5 and his emergence onto the national landscape as a member of the University of Michigan’s storied Fab Five, the NBRPA sat down with Jalen for five questions about his new role.

How did this relationship come about and why did you choose to give back to the NBRPA as the organization’s new official Ambassador?

Jalen Rose: I’m a member of the NBRPA and was truly humbled when they reached out to me about being an Ambassador. This organization was founded by NBA greats Oscar Robertson, Dave Cowens, Dave DeBusschere, Archie Clark and my godfather, former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, more than two decades ago and I am excited to help carry out their goal of assisting former players in life after basketball. I look forward to serving as a spokesperson and advocate for an organization I truly believe can have a positive effect on the basketball community. Thank you to NBRPA President & CEO Arnie Fielkow, as well as Chairman Otis Birdsong and the entire NBRPA Board of Directors for this great honor and opportunity.

The NBRPA carries a mission to assist former players in their transition from the playing court into life after the game. What is the toughest challenge players face when they leave basketball?

JR: In my opinion, the toughest challenge is waiting to prepare for retirement when you walk off the court. Basketball needs to be treated like the amazing sprint it is, but you need to prepare for the marathon of life. Build a support system early on and have a plan. Players need to find a way to stay current and relevant to parlay their experience into other opportunities. Finding time to be accomplished off the court is also important so that you can carry on your legacy.

It’s important to note that the NBRPA isn’t just open to former players—current players are also eligible to join and take advantage of all the programs offered to help players in transition. The NBRPA partners directly with the NBA and National Basketball Players Association on many projects that are designed to make transition form the court into the so-called real world as seamless as possible.

What kind of programs and services would you like to see the NBRPA offer former players to assist in transition?

JR: First and foremost, players shouldn’t wait until they retire to join the NBRPA…they should start paying membership dues now so they can take advantage of the various programs and networks. Anything can happen, don’t wait until after your last season, this will make the transition that much smoother.

NBRPA members are offered comprehensive resources to assist with career development, continuing education, business and financial literacy, legal research and health and wellness. Best of all, these programs are all free as part of membership.

The NBRPA already offers tremendous resources such as transitional training seminars and one-on-one, customized support for those who are interested in going back to school to earn their degree. I would like to work with the NBRPA to create additional programming that would provide assistance for players looking to establish fiscally responsible foundations so they can give back and explore group insurance plans for those who need them. It is also crucial to help the players stay current and active so that they can continue to benefit off the NBA brand that they helped build.

The NBRPA’s second mission is to serve communities and youth through basketball. How well do the Association’s community initiatives line up with your own philanthropic projects?

JR: As part of its charitable mission, the NBRPA works to enhance communities and promote basketball through grassroots youth events in the United States and abroad. The organization has worked to fulfill this goodwill mission in the Middle East, Haiti and urban America—rebuilding public courts to provide a safe place to play, visiting schools, hospitals and rec centers and conducting dozens of free youth clinics annually—inspiring kids with stories of wins, losses, sweat and strength.

These initiatives sync perfectly with the Jalen Rose Charitable Fund, which focuses on grants to develop education and sports programs in my hometown of Detroit and other communities in need. In addition, my personal focus on educating young people is well-aligned with the NBRPA. The NBRPA’s Dave DeBusschere Scholarship Fund provides opportunities for former players and their families to access higher education, while my greatest philanthropic undertaking to date—the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy—is an open enrollment, public charter high school on the Northwest side of Detroit that provides a leadership-focused education that engages and inspires youth to achieve at the rigorous level necessary to ultimately graduate with a college degree.

What are your long-term goals as it pertains to serving the NBRPA?

JR: Just as it’s the NBRPA’s long-term goal, in conjunction with the NBA and NBPA, I want to help make transition for former players as seamless as possible. I want to help equip my peers with the tools for success in life after the game.

I hope to be an asset to the NBRPA by helping them build up their membership (targeting current and retired players), increasing brand awareness as well as developing new initiatives that members can benefit from as the organization continues to grow. I’d also like to see more retired players engaged in their community by giving back in a capacity that they are passionate about.