We read with great interest your Official Release yesterday regarding social justice efforts. We applaud the NBA for helping to bring issues regarding inclusion and inequality to the fore, and we would like to respond to the NBA, WNBA, players, coaches, and owners.
At BIG3, these are issues that we have strived to address from inception. The BIG3 is the first professional sports league with a Black Commissioner Clyde Drexler, a Black owner Ice Cube, a female Chairman Amy Trask, and four board members who are both Black and come from the player community, Corey Maggette, Chauncey Billups, Jermaine O’Neal, and Jerome “JYD” Williams. We were first to hire female head coaches in a men’s sport, Nancy Lieberman and Lisa Leslie (both who won Coach of the Year honors voted by their peers as well as each coached the last two BIG3 Championship teams). Our founding players and coaches benefit financially from the league in perpetuity. BIG3 teams are run by Player Captains and Coaches, who are empowered to control their own destiny. Many of NBA and WNBA players, coaches, owners, and GMs clearly support BIG3 as over 150 have attended games in just our first three seasons.
It is appalling to BIG3 that much of Black youth in America grows up believing their only path to achieve the American Dream is sports and entertainment. Racial inequality and institutional racism have served to deprive most Black citizens of equal opportunity, proper education, fair justice, decent living conditions, proper representation, to name a few from a very long list. We were all shocked by the brutal execution of George Floyd, lifelong friend of BIG3 player and coach Stephen Jackson. Yet, the horrible truth is there have been many victims like George Floyd through the years, and many of our players (and yours) have had to face the horrors of racism since birth.
A sad truth is many athletes are discarded and forgotten after their limited years entertaining and playing for American fans and find themselves without a foundation for their futures. Once revered, these players are returned to the racist institutions of our nation that hamper future opportunities beyond basketball. As you know, a shockingly high percentage of former NBA and WNBA players eventually face financial, psychological, and a host of other struggles. Our players DESERVE a second act!
BIG3 HAS a specific plan to address this: a foundation created to benefit former NBA and WNBA players move forward with their post basketball careers. A significant OWNERSHIP percentage of BIG3 will go to this foundation so BIG3’s success results in many decades of support long after a couple checks are cashed. Some features of the program:
- Funds and support will be granted and/or loaned to ex-players for new business ventures, education, charitable endeavors, and assistance in post career lives.
- Funds and support for ex-players to give back to their communities.
- The foundation will hire and provide ex-players with business consultants and experts in structuring new businesses, “pitch” assistance, tax experts, legal counsel, life counselors, access to medical support, substance abuse counselors, and job and education placement services.
- Funding for youth programs in struggling Black communities.
- Youth outreach/activities to take place in each BIG3 visited city.
- Ex-coaches are also eligible for the program and support.
- The only qualification is having played or coached in the NBA or WNBA; participation in BIG3 is not a requirement nor will it carry an advantage in decision making.
- “Success” in the league will NOT be a factor so that ALL ex-players are benefitted.
- A board will be set up consisting of both BIG3 and NBA/WNBA coaches and players to decide on disbursements of funds based on need and merit for projects and need for services and assistance. All applications are therefore peer reviewed.
- Sponsor support will supplement funds and allow the Foundation to start immediately.
Its time to take care of our heroes after the cheering crowds disappear. The mostly Black ex-player community has created BILLIONS in wealth for the NBA, its mostly White owners, Television networks, sponsors, and numerous others. BIG3 has always used the motto “Players not Property” and believes we all should invest in the futures of players and coaches that without which there would be no league. By doing so, we provide the funding and tools to create Black-owned and operated businesses and support opportunities that will undoubtedly help address persistent inequities plaguing the Black community. Fans will know the NBA and its Owners support its players.
The NBA pays $50m for stock in BIG3, BIG3 also contributes $50m in stock, and this $100m stake in BIG3 will be transferred to the non-Profit foundation securing the futures of our heroes and allowing them to greatly impact their communities. Many corporate sponsors are interested in supporting such activities. It is a tiny investment in the success of a league primarily made up of ex-NBA and WNBA stars to begin with and is not mutually exclusive with additional efforts the NBA commits to.
Enough talk: here is a chance for us to make a difference for ex-players for the next century. Let us plant a tree together; we can start TODAY.