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Volume 23 No. 13
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Davis to lead new NBPA player program

The National Basketball Players Association has hired ESPN broadcaster Antonio Davis, a former union player president, to head up a new unit to help prepare players for life after basketball.

The new department is tentatively called Off the Court, and Davis is its first hire. He started his new job late last month.

Davis’ title and the number of people he may hire to staff the new initiative are yet to be determined. He reports to NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts.

“I’m excited, because we need this,” Roberts said about the program. “It’s preposterous that we’ve not had it.”

The new CBA provides for funding for the program, and Roberts said she wants a full program similar to one that the NFL Players Association has in place.

Davis will work on things such as making sure players file the right paperwork when they finish playing to get health insurance and other benefits. But he also will work with players to plan for a second career when their playing days end.

It’s something that most basketball players don’t want to think about, Roberts said.

“We go to the rookie training program and one of the first things they are told is, ‘You’ve got to be prepared for life after basketball,’” she said. “And these guys are looking at us like, ‘Are you kidding me? We just got here. Now I have to be prepared for leaving?’”

Davis agrees that players’ reluctance to think about the day when basketball is no longer their career is an issue.

“The problem is a lot of guys — and I didn’t know this myself — don’t think, ‘Where does my next passion lie? What is the next thing I am passionate about?’” Davis said. “And, as players, I don’t think we know.”

Davis, a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso, was drafted in the second round of the 1990 draft and played in Greece and Italy before starting in the league. His NBA career stretched from 1993 to 2006 and he was named an All-Star in 2001. He worked at Sirius XM and at ESPN before joining the NBPA.

The NBPA has programs for players to look at second careers in broadcasting, coaching, real estate and technology already, but not enough players are taking advantage of those resources, Davis said.

Another problem is that players are waiting until a few years after their basketball career has ended to start a new career. Davis wants players be as excited about their second careers as their playing careers.

“I want to get players into the program while they’re playing, so once they come out, we are getting them interviews, we are getting them hired,” Davis said.