Oftentimes when professional basketball players retire, they fade from the public spotlight as they pursue their off-court endeavors. However, as part of its broader goal to support players in their post-professional life, the National Basketball Retired Players Association spotlights former players, allowing them to share their knowledge and stay connected with fans.
Enter Legends Studios, the NBRPA’s content platform, which delivers short videos and the All-Access Legends Podcast, featuring interviews with former basketball players.
“We work with media and social media to develop original content, interviews and storytelling,” said Scott Rochelle, president and CEO of the NBRPA. “We gather interviews and content from players at events like NBA All-Star Weekend and the Naismith Hall of Fame, and we recently partnered with Jack Daniels at the WNBA All-Star game – different areas where we sit players down to talk about their experience once they’re out of the game.”
Legends was launched at the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles and is spearheaded by KemperLesnik, a public relations and sports marketing agency.
“We edit video, produce graphics and have the creative vision to execute under any conditions,” said Brad Shulkin, KemperLesnik’s account executive in charge of Legends Studios. “As we continue to create new content and original programs featuring former players, we want to give brands and companies an avenue to partner with the NBRPA and its members in a very unique and organic way.”
KemperLesnik leans on the expertise of the former players to produce interesting, moving features, according to Shulkin.
“The legends have so many stories to tell,” said Shulkin, who also works with major brands like the PGA of America and KitchenAid. “The amount of knowledge and insight they have on the sport brings perspective to today’s game and inspires younger players and fans. Speaking on behalf of our entire team, it’s been a surreal experience. We’ve been able to interview some of the greatest to play the game, including Nancy Lieberman, Spencer Haywood, Rick Barry, Isiah Thomas, Sheryl Swoopes, Elton Brand, Sam Perkins, Sydney Moncrief, Cynthia Cooper and more.”
Beyond the short videos that appear on social media, Rochelle added that the content is packaged in creative ways. For example, some of the videos have been transformed into animation form, while some are packaged for sponsorship platforms.
Legends content also transcends the alumni’s accomplishments on the court — Shulkin mentioned a specific story that stood out to him.
“Speaking with Spencer Haywood about how he transformed the game with his U.S. Supreme Court ruling was so fascinating,” he said. “There have been so many cool experiences since we started working with the NBRPA.”
Shulkin added that the biggest challenge of his job stems from working around the hectic schedules of the former players.
“With every challenge comes opportunity — that’s how we approach every project,” he said. “We have very specific times to schedule a majority of our interviews and an even smaller window to capture the necessary content. Since these are busy people, the challenge is coordinating these interviews and executing in such a short window of time.”
Despite any difficulties they’ve faced, Rochelle has been highly satisfied with the work of Shulkin and KemperLesnik.
“They’ve put together great concepts for raising awareness for who we are, taking the stories of our players and putting them into package-able sound bites and video clips,” Rochelle said.
Considering the success of Legends Studios so far, Rochelle believes that it can continue to make waves, thanks to the diversity and influence of the NBRPA and its members.
“We aim to be a major player in the former NBA and WNBA content area because we have a membership of over 1,000 former players,” Rochelle said. “Therefore, we do expect to be able to do some special things.”