The Legends, NBRPA, the National Basketball Retired Players Association was founded in 1992. I have been a dues paying member on and off during those years, and I'm poised over my checkbook today wondering if I should begin writing or wait to see what will become of this troubled organization that in the past four years has had two major contentious and disruptive leadership changes at a same time that the board of directors have been promising a stronger, more cohesive, and productive future.
Perhaps it's because I live on the west coast, away from NBRPA headquarters, but I sure haven't seen much progress. Aside from raising yearly money to fund a couple of college scholarships (named for the late Dave Debussere) for children of retired players, and a few specific charitable events, such as the one in 2008 that I attended for hearing disabled youngsters in Puerto Rico, I'm not sure what else the organization has accomplished. There is a potential benefit no doubt to networking betwee retirees, but there doesn't seem to be a system in place do that. There are meetings during All-Star breaks and golfing get-to-gethers where a great deal is discussed and proposed with negligible tangible results.
It's really too bad because the Legends could be a vital and vibrant organization providing services for retired players as well as being a potent charitable arm of the NBA family.
I think the present Board of Directors, led by Danny Schayes, have their hearts in the right place, but they might be playing in a game they can't win. As anybody who knows professional basketball can tell you, a team can't succeed with just its horses, it needs its thoroughbreds. With the exception of Earl the Pearl and Rick Barry, and apologises to the founders, all super-stars, no other recently retired star has taken an proactive interest in helping the Legends. The NBRPA is a team without its thoroughbreds. Where are the Legends that fans still remember or remain in the limelight, such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, John Stockton, Sir Charles, Kenny Smith, C Webb, Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippin, Julius Erving, Karl Malone, Mose Malone, Kevin McHale, Hakeem the Dream, Bill Walton, etc? Looks to me that they are sitting out the game. They've got theirs, so why bother helping the bench players that helped them become the icons they still are. Sad, and I say shame on them.
Without its super-stars committed and working hard, the NBRPA will remain a marginalized organization taking financial handouts from the league, with little power to do much more than they already have, which is fine, I suppose, if that is the low bar the Legends want to set for themselves.
Speaking of Super Stars, here's another excerpt from John Edgar Widman's memoir, Hoop Roots:
"Fear and love, love and fear raised the stakes of the game. Engendered the beginnings of a hunger, the hunger driving the serious players I admire most, who never seem satisfied no matter how well they perform, players who consistently push themselves as if more hustle, more speed, more brawling competitiveness is never too much. Players who refuse to settle into a comfort zone, who won't accept limits, who attack the game with the same unstinting voraciousness as the game when it attaches them, consuming the best of their bodies and spirits."
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.