From their unwavering work ethic, dedication in a team environment, and ultimately inevitable retirement, military service members and athletes share a special bond.
When that day comes, they both ask, ‘What’s next?’ The question remains. To help answer this question for military families, the NBA G League has partnered with Hiring Our Heroes to launch a basketball apparel business.
The Basketball Alliance provides a partnership for transitioning military service members and spouses who want to learn more about different career paths in the sports industry.
Interested and eligible military service members and spouses can apply for fellowships online at HiringOurHeroes.org. The first batch will start in January 2024.
“The mission and focus of this partnership is to serve the people who serve us,” said G League President Sharif Abdurahim. I think it’s great from a G League perspective to find a way to extend that beyond the players and people in our ecosystem and we can spread that out to different communities.
The program involves fellows joining a participating NBA G League team for 12 weeks, combining classroom style and experiential learning based on business needs and interests.
“This creates an opportunity, especially through the G League, to get service members to think about the NBA in a different way,” said Eric Eversole, CEO of Our Heroes.
“They once thought it was unattainable. It gives them a chance to live out their dreams.
To make the program more accessible, the participating teams are all near military bases and cities with large military populations: NBA G League Ignite, South Bay Lakers, Ontario Clippers, Austin Spurs, Osceola Magic, College Park Skyhawks, Capital City Go-Go and Wind City Bulls. . The program will expand to more NBA G League markets in the future.
There are several different career paths for Basketball Alliance Associates including Business Operations, Marketing, Content, Social Responsibility and Ticket Sales.
Fellows are required to participate in weekly virtual professional development sessions. These gatherings give service members a chance to formalize their transition experience while maintaining the same sense of community they would have in the military.
“When you leave the service community and step into a new opportunity, it can be very lonely,” Eversole said. “It gives them a chance to keep that connective tissue with the community they know. It’s important from a mental health standpoint. You still feel like you have a lifeline of people who think and talk like you. We’ve found that a little lifeline once a week is a key ingredient to our success, which keeps them growing and feeling safe.”
Abdurrahim believes that his teammates convey great qualities that are essential to the NBA G League, such as hard work, cooperation, sacrifice, leadership, humility and courage.
“Representation is important,” Abdurahim said. “Seeing people from different backgrounds motivates and inspires us. It gives us hope and understanding of what is possible. Beyond that, I think we learn from each other and have different backgrounds and experiences. It’s a way to really build community.”
Basketball combine business doesn’t just involve unions for military service members. The program serves a nation of military spouses, the unsung heroes, who make incredible sacrifices every day and are often forced to quit their own jobs.
“Being able to support the family is very important,” Abdurahim added. “You don’t just have to support the service member, you have to support the whole family.”
For Eversole, the basketball combo business is just the beginning of a growing partnership, one with incredible potential.
“When you have that mindset, you’re not pushing a rock up, you’re paddling in the same direction,” Eversole said.
“And I really think that’s why this partnership is so special. They understand what the military community needs and we are here to help achieve it.
Fellowship applications can be found at HiringOurHeroes.org, with the first cohort starting in January 2024.