From their unwavering work ethic, dedication in a team environment and, eventually, an unavoidable retirement, military service members and athletes share a special relationship
Once that day comes, both are left with the question of ‘What’s next?’ The NBA G League partnered with Hiring Our Heroes to launch the Business of Basketball Combine to help answer this question for military families.
The Business of Basketball Combine provides fellowships for transitioning military service members and spouses who want to learn more about various career pathways in the sports industry.
Interested and eligible military service members and spouses can apply for a fellowship online at HiringOurHeroes.org. The first cohort begins in January 2024.
“The mission and the focus of this partnership is being of service to those who serve us,” said G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim. “I think it’s awesome from a G League perspective that we have a way to extend that beyond just players and people in our ecosystem and we can spread this to different communities.”
The program consists of fellows joining a participating NBA G League team for 12 weeks in a combination of classroom style and experiential learning based on business needs and interests.
“This creates an opportunity, especially through the G League, which has such a great track record of creating pathways to the NBA, to have service members think differently about the NBA as a career opportunity,” said Hiring Our Heroes CEO Eric Eversole.
“Something they once thought was unattainable. It gives them a chance to live out a dream.”
To make the program even more accessible, the teams involved are all near military bases and cities with a high military population: NBA G League Ignite, South Bay Lakers, Ontario Clippers, Austin Spurs, Osceola Magic, College Park Skyhawks, Capital City Go-Go and Windy City Bulls. The program will expand to more NBA G League markets in the future.
There are several different career pathways available for Business of Basketball Combine Fellows including, but not limited to, Operations, Marketing, Content, Social Responsibility and Ticket Sales.
Fellows will also be required to participate in weekly virtual professional development sessions. These meetings will give service members a chance to normalize their transitioning experience while retaining the same community aspect they would have in the military.
“When you leave the community of service and go into a new opportunity it can be awfully lonely,” Eversole said. “This gives them a chance to retain that connective tissue to the community they know. That’s important from a mental health perspective. You still feel like you have that lifeline of people that think and talk like you. We found that to be a key ingredient to our success that just a little bit of lifeline once a week lets them continue to develop and feel safe.”
Abdur-Rahim believes the fellows will transfer over all the great qualities needed for the NBA G League, such as hard work, collaboration, sacrifice, leadership, humility and courage.
“Representation is important,” Abdur-Rahim said. “Seeing different people from different backgrounds inspires us, it motivates us. It gives us hope and understanding of what’s possible. Beyond that, I think we learn from each other and have an appreciation of different backgrounds and experiences. It’s a way to really build community.”
The Business of Basketball Combine doesn’t just include fellowships for military service members. The program also serves military spouses, a population of unsung heroes who make incredible sacrifices daily and are often forced to put their own careers on hold.
“Being able to support the family is so important,” Abdur-Rahim added. “You can’t just support the service member, you need to support the entire family.”
To Eversole, the Business of Basketball Combine is just the beginning of a budding partnership, one with incredible potential.
“When you have that melding of the minds then you’re not pushing a rock uphill, you’re rowing in the same direction,” Eversole said.
“And I think that’s in fact why this partnership will be so special. They understand what the military community needs and we’re here to help achieve that.”
Fellowship application can be found at HiringOurHeroes.org, with the first cohort beginning in January 2024.