Emotional warning for NBA rookies
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The day began joyfully enough with NBA rookies taking pictures for their trading cards.
The day ended with former drug addict and alcoholic and NBA player Chris Herren delivering his powerful, gut-wrenching and emotional story of substance abuse, wasted dreams and ultimately his ongoing recovery.
Shortly after NBA Commissioner David Stern gave a brief introduction to players at the NBA and National Basketball Players Association’s Rookie Transition Program on Tuesday, Herren walked into the room.
“This is a living amends,” Herren told the rookies in his compelling and rapid-fire delivery. “I come back here because I remember sitting in your seat. I remember my attitude. I remember my behavior and I remember sitting in your seats saying, ‘None of this pertains to me.’ ”
Approximately 50 rookies and other young players who had not attended the Rookie Transition Program were rapt for an hour as Herren spoke. It was an intense example of how close a player is to having it all or having nothing at all.
“Growing up, you heard about it, but for him to actually come in and tell it from his perspective, it was an amazing experience,” Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo said.
The players assembled in Florham Park for four days for the program which helps players make the transition into the NBA and assist them with fame, fortune and potential dangers of their new lives and lifestyles.
The program, which ends Friday, included financial, sexual education, philanthropic, social, business, media training and responsibility presentations as well as smaller breakout sessions.
“The goal is to provide the education, training and support that first-year players need as they transition into the NBA,” NBA senior vice president of player development Greg Taylor said. “We know that’s a big transition and it requires a lot of information, a lot of support and training. … The league, teams and union, we’re all committed to helping these guys move forward.”
The NBA and NBPA provide contact information for almost every situation, and players are encouraged to take advantage of the support system.
“There’s so many resources they have for us,” Oladipo said. “They don’t … [For more on Emotional warning for NBA rookies, click here.]