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Volume 20 No. 46
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Plugged In: Arnie Fielkow, NBRPA

Longtime sports executive Arnie Fielkow, since 2011, has been charged with leading the National Basketball Retired Players Association. The group aims to assist former NBA, WNBA, ABA and Harlem Globetrotters players and has a current membership count of 650, up from 400 when Fielkow came aboard. Fielkow previously was an executive vice president for the New Orleans Saints and served as a New Orleans city councilman. Today, he’s responsible for growing the NBRPA membership and its programs.

There are success stories, but equally true is that there are a lot of depressing stories. We see both sides. Our organization exists to do as much as we can to help those in need of a better place in life.

The challenges: Our membership is so diverse. We have guys in their 20s to their 80s. We have rich and we have poor. We have to provide programming and benefits that fulfill the needs for everyone.

The programs: One mission is to help transition the former player to a successful life after sports. We have programs in multiple areas, including financial, career transitions, education, health care, and in almost any area that would involve a former athlete. We have a dozen programs across that platform that are free and are part of the membership. We provide a number of monetary opportunities to our players to continue their brand in the marketplace. Our newest mission is a community mission.

The growth targets: We just added the WNBA. We are having discussions with the NBPA about active players coming into our organization. The thought is that it would be a seamless transition: They would be a member in both organizations, and there would be no gap in time when they stop playing.

On the NBPA executive director search: We are hoping that the new person coming in is supportive of the NBRPA and is someone who wants to work hand-in-hand in creating programs for former players.

On Dennis Rodman and North Korea: There is a time and place for the utilization of sports to bring people together. I personally don’t feel that the North Korea trip was that situation. You have a dictator who is violating basic human rights, and to go over there for his birthday is not something we feel is appropriate.

— John Lombardo