Scott Rochelle has been the President and CEO of the National Basketball Retired Players Association since March 2018, after serving one year as an Interim. Rochelle is also the host of the popular NBA Alumni- produced podcast.
In his role as President and CEO, Rochelle oversees the Retired Players Association’s day-to-day operations, including securing new cutting-edge partnerships for former players to thrive and prosper.
Rochelle joined SportsJam host Doug Doyle recently to talk about the NBA's "Bubble Experiment", The Last Dance Documentary, social justice statements from the current players, his father Rich's time at Loyola where he won a college basketball championship in 1963 and Scott's role in working with the legends of the hardwood.
Doyle asked Rochelle for his take on the most recent social justice statements being made by the current players in the NBA and WNBA.
"The social justice issues that are very prevalent now are not new. They have taken a new role because of the ability of the active players to put actions to their intentions. Players in my association who I work for have been always been very active in their own communities. They've been very vocal and they've been working for the betterment of communities, the betterment of society. The difference now is just the platform that the NBA players today have is being utilized but it's being respected in a different way. In the past, social activism was met with hostility at times. Black being blackballed, having a real fear that you wouldn't be able to go back on the court, you wouldn't be able to continue your career if you spoke up to much. And so now they're able to see the younger guys go out there, not just have a voice, but put action to it and change things and really impact how the NBA works, the world works. They're looking in admiration, and I'd be lying if I said they weren't a bit jealous of the abilities of these players to move the needle with regard to voting rights, police reform and all those types of things. So there's an admiration from the older players who are almost in awe that this could happen because if the older players could've done this they certainly would have. But the landscape has changed. The level of respect between the Players Association and the League is different than it used to be. They're working together. Is it always perfect? No, but when a situation comes up you see them coming together, having discussion and walking away with an action plan. In the 60's and 70's this was not going to happen. There wasn't going to be that conversation. That kind of activism would have been squashed or the players would not have been comfortable enough to bring it up. So now you see the players, not in control, but with a voice, with a seat at the table and able to put their agenda forward for the betterment of everyone."
Rochelle's father faced discrimination when he was part of the Loyola Ramblers NCAA Tournament Championship team in 1963. Rich Rochelle and his son have had many discussions about those days when he and some of his teammates were threatened, called names and they had to find place to eat that would serve them, especially during a trip to Houston that season.
Scott Rochelle, who is also on the Board of Trustees for the National Basketball Hall of Fame, is the host of the popular Legends: On Deck with Scott Rochelle podcast presented by the NBA Alumni. His most recent guests included Fat Lever, Mugsy Bogues, Nancy Lieberman, Isiah Thomas and Spencer Haywood. The 6'5" former basketball player at Evanston Township High School and for a time at Morehouse College, loves his the show and his role with the Association.
"It really is great. The most humbling part about it is when you get a call from a Hall of Famer and they're asking you for assistance with something and wow I'm being a resource for this person. We build these relationships, We worked closely together."
Rochelle has also been impressed with how the NBA has handled the season through the coronavirus pandemic and creating a "bubble" environment for the players and coaches to return to action.
"It was a tremendous gamble because the NBA came out first and led with this and wanted to show the sportsworld it can be done if it's done properly and if everyone buys into it. I think we've seen success because we've seen buy-in on both the ownership and the players side and execution has been key. So we're really excited this has worked. Obviously there are sports implications but there are also business and longterm implications to this working. As retired players we're excited about that we rely on the success of the NBA to really take us to where we want to go and help us remain in the game, remain active and a lot of our events are NBA-adjacent events. To see the NBA remain successful, to lead well, is really encouraging for us.
Click above to hear the entire SportsJam interview with Scott Rochelle and find out why Scottie Pippen is his favorite player on the Chicago Bulls championship teams.