The National Basketball Retired Players Association has announced the launch of Legends Media & Entertainment (LME), a multimedia storytelling platform for NBA and WNBA players that will aim to tell stories about the history of both leagues and the lives of players both on and off the court. One of the organization’s many goals is to change the narrative around retired NBA players, NBRPA President and CEO Scott Rochelle said.
“There’s no shortage of stories about former players having troubles and difficulties, but the reality is that most players have success very quietly,” Rochelle said. “I want to change that. I want the players to look at this as a place to put all of their successes and goodwill.”
Rochelle said most NBA players are already aware of the association, which was founded in 1992 and serves as the official alumni organization of the NBA, WNBA, ABA and Harlem Globetrotters. In 2018 the organization launched Legends Magazine, a quarterly periodical that is delivered to all former players, active players and coaches worldwide. Shortly after the magazine debuted, they also announced Legends Studios, a place where the NBRPA has created live-action videos, animated videos and two podcasts.
In the midst of the ongoing global pandemic, while members of the NBRPA weren’t able to meet in person to share stories, a lot of their conversations were held remotely over Zoom calls. As the former players and organizational members discussed each of their experiences through these troublesome times, inspiration for LME sparked.
“We figured some of the stories we were telling internally to each other were great stories, but someone on the outside can take these stories and be inspired or relate to it,” said Rochelle.
With more than 1,000 members in the NBRPA, the organization has the tools to reach players both young and old. Former Detroit Pistons forward and Hall of Famer Grant Hill serves as a board director.
“We think it’s important to tell these stories, especially in the WNBA. They’ve been leaders with using their platform, speaking truth to power and understanding the power in their voices,” said Hill. “I think I’m looking forward to the stewardship or the responsibility for highlighting incredible human beings.”
Most of the NBRPA funding comes from its partnership with the NBA. The alliance has helped give many retired NBA and WNBA players opportunities in media. Players have been able to speak on shows on ESPN, Bleacher Report and Barstool Sports. Outside of this, the NBRPA has found other ways to monetize the likeness of players. An example is the NBA 2K games that feature throwback teams such as the 72-win 1995-96 Chicago Bulls or the 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers.
The content that the LME will produce will consist of print stories, short and long form video, spoken word, podcasts and more. Videos and podcasts produced through LME can be streamed through Twitter, Facebook, Twitch and Soundcloud, but the NBRPA is also currently looking for ways to amplify its reach.