David Stern – Thank You

3 01 2020

I haven’t written here in a while…but it feels healthy to write some of my thoughts upon the passing of David Stern.

He globalized the game.  He understood and created a vision for social responsibility.  He launched the WNBA and D-League (now G League).  He was a tremendous leader, always on-point, and progressive.  His work and legacy speak for itself, but when I think of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, I’ll remember him as an amazing person that was fun, caring, and witty.  I’ll remember how he encouraged me, challenged me, appreciated my thoughts, and generally made me feel like a friend.  The word mentor is too formal…“Work-grandfather” feels a little closer to accurate, but it doesn’t truly capture the relationship either.  Regardless of the term, these are the things I remember.

Upon completing the 2003-2004 basketball season (my junior year), I was accepted into the NBA internship program.  Before my first day on the job, Coach Jones let me know that the Commissioner had helped me get the internship.  I didn’t know how to process the information.  I wanted to earn and deserve everything I ever received in life.  But at the same time, the commissioner knew who I was!  I didn’t overthink it and carried on.

In my first week on the job, I found myself in his office.  He said, “Have a seat.  Would you like something to drink?”  (There was no way I was going to ask him for something to drink).  He spent some time learning about me and what my experience in the office was so far.  It was a simple interaction, yet genuine.

He reminded me that he went to Columbia Law School and then tried to ruffle some feathers, “So are you guys going to win any games next year?”   We had some nice banter as we talked about the upcoming Columbia basketball season.  We probably talked about the team longer than any IVY league basketball analyst did that summer.

We continued to connect and develop a relationship.  Soon thereafter, it was time for the annual NBA family picnic.  The picnic was outdoors and had numerous activities that employees and their families could enjoy.  My mom joined me and as we made our rounds, we started playing ping-pong.  I wasn’t messing around and was letting forehand winners run rampant.

Then I looked up.  There he was.  Commissioner Stern.  He said, “Why don’t you pick on somebody with a little experience?”  And so the battles began.  He was better than I expected, and he made sure to let me know that he had been the Rutgers class champion (or something that provided me with more ammo to tease him with).  Our in-game dialogue was likely similar to Bill Laimbeer and Michael Jordan in 1989 conference finals.  He was really good, but I certainly didn’t share that thought.  The games were close, and felt epic.  In my mind, hundreds of people gathered around to watch.

I didn’t realize it at the time but this ping-pong match-up would become the preface or conclusion to every email exchange or conversation we had from that point forward.

“Take care Jeremiah…P.S. I hope you’ve found a good ping-poing coach somewhere.”

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After graduating in the spring of 2005, I joined NBA’s Associates Program.  We continued our conversations, we exchanged holiday gifts (well he gave me a gift and then I tried to return the favor), and I quit working at the NBA.  What?!?  Yes.  Somehow after 16 months I left potentially the best job in the world.  I decided to leave and pursue playing basketball overseas.

I expected a tough conversation.  But he looked me in the eye and said my decision was absolutely terrific.  And more, knowing that I was likely going to play in Brazil that year, he asked me to continue updating him and share about the league and structure, the arenas, the rules, the community interest, attendance, and anything and everything related to Brazilian basketball.

Every summer I would visit the office and we would continue our basketball chats and the anticipated raillery.  We talked about my experience playing in Switzerland, and his favorite hiking spots outside of Geneva.  I would share how after every game in Switzerland they awarded a player of the game award to a player from each team, and the gifts were completely random – insert hair products, bottles of champagne, or maybe a stuffed basketball.  He gave me a jab that I probably never received one.  We continued and laughed about the McDonald’s McFondue burgers.

We shared stories about China and India. We talked about international salaries and accommodations.  He asked my thoughts on the 2011 Chris Paul trade.  I inserted my jab.  He would tease me because I had yet to learn Mandarin. I would remind him that he hadn’t either.  I would always walk out of the office with a smile.

There wasn’t a conversation that we had that did not include him asking about my mom.  He always made sure I was happy with what I was doing.  He always challenged me to think about where I wanted to be in the future.  I intentionally wouldn’t share all of my thoughts, but on one trip I mentioned that coaching might be a healthy transition out of playing for me.  Within a few days, I was on the phone with a Spurs coach and quickly found myself in San Antonio to work their mini-camp.

He cared.  I’ll never know why I was so fortunate.  He was a just a good person.  Somehow I fell into his presence, and I became better because of it.  I’m indebted.

Thank you for being good enough to make for a semi-competitive ping-pong game.

But really, thank you.

NBA All Star 2014

16 03 2014

New Orleans is typically a pretty fun city.  Then, add Mardi Gras.  Then, throw the NBA All-Star game on top of that!  The 2014 NBA All-Star was a great one for me.  I was able to see some great friends in the NBA world, meet new friends, and support some players involved in the All-Star festivities.  

As always, the NBA put on a phenomenal event.  From Jam Session, to concerts, to the games, everything was wonderful.  A big thank you to Pero Antic, Marty Conlon, Rex Kalamian, Brooks Meek, and Stephanie Ruucco!  You guys made it an amazing experience for me!


Basketball Event at the Venetian Macau!

12 05 2013

I recently had the opportunity to help organize a basketball charity game in Macau, Asia.  The Venetian hosted a 1-game event of former NBA players in partnership with Yao Ming in which all ticket sales were donated to the Red Cross of China.  I consulted with the Venetian to help arrange players.  

Gary Payton, Horace Grant, Byron Russell, Rafer Alston, Mr. Afrika and more were involved. A big thank you to my partnership in Asia and all who helped out!

Byron Russell said, “Jeremiah hooked me up with an amazing trip to China.  I definitely hope to do more work with him.”


New Team

22 11 2011

After starting the season with 2 wins and 6 losses with ABA Strumica, I decided to move on.  The people of Strumica are great and I will miss them, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the right time.  2 Other players left the team as well as our coach, so I took the opportunity to depart peacefully. Now I have moved to the capital of Macedonia (Skopje) and am playing for KK Torus.

Torus is currently in 2nd place in Macedonia at 7-1.  The team also plays in the Balkan League (1-1), so we play games in Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, Serbia, and Israel.

I am excited about the new change and look forward to settling in.  Unfortunately, the change came at the same time as a muscle injury in my leg so I will be resting for possibly 1 more week before getting into the mix.

Thank you for all of the support and I believe this is a positive step for me.  Here are two links if you’re interested in seeing a small amount of information about the team and the Balkan League.

Torus on Eurobasket

Torus and the Balkan League

The Season Begins

24 10 2011

After a lot of preparation, the season has begun.  We have now played our first 3 games and are 1-2.  We haven’t started as well as we would have liked, but we are getting better every game.  We have a few guys who are injured or banged up right now which does not help, but we will just be resting and practicing until our next game on Saturday the 29th.  If you’re in Macedonia, come see us in Skopje against Rabotnichki.   If not, I will try to have the results posted in the games/results section by Sunday.

Thanks for your support!

Almost Game Time

9 10 2011

The 2011-2012 season is upon us.  We have our first regular season game against Torus of Skopje this coming Saturday the 15th.  They are a good team this year and also compete in the Balkan League.  We are excited to get started and open up in front of our home crowd.

I hope to update as often as possible and possibly even get some video up.  If there are links to watching or following the games online, I will try to post them as well.

Preseason in MK

14 09 2011

After a summer that was great but entirely too short, it is time for basketball season again.  I have landed back in Macedonia for the 2011-2012 season.  I will be playing for the same team as last year (ABA Strumica).    We have a new coach and some new players. The league here will be much stronger this year, but I think our team will be better also.  ABA seems to be moving in the right direction.

We played some friendly games last week in Greece near Katerini.  Next Tuesday (20th), Wednesday (21st) and Thursday (22nd) we will again be going to Greece for some games.  We will play in Thessaloniki, Katerini and 1 other city against 2 Greek teams and a Turkish team.  Hopefully this will help us continue to improve.  We haven’t received an official schedule for the season yet, but the rumor is our first game will be October 15th.

All in all, things are good.  I hope to be settled into a new apartment by this weekend and am ready to begin the journey again.

From Hong Kong

18 07 2011

In mid-July, I again find myself in Asia.  For the 2nd year in a row, I am playing for the Hong Kong Champions, Winlings.  Tomorrow we start the SuperLeague Tournament which consists of 4 teams.  Every team has 2 import players.  Games are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.  This is a full schedule of games but it is a lot of fun. There is a great environment at the games and the American players usually put on a show.

I am hoping some photos will get posted on Facebook by the wonderful Winling fans and I can add them here, but until then, here is a photo taken the other day at practice.  Cheer us on over the week! 


27 06 2011

The summer is fully underway and am definitely enjoying it. After some time at home and working some of the Atlanta Hawks basketball camps, I am now playing with an Athletes in Action team.
We played in Ohio, Tennessee and now Chicago. The trip has been great on and off the court. I was even able to drive a couple of laps at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

There is a pretty good chance I will be going to China again in July but will update again soon!

Fun and Succesful Camp!

13 05 2011

One of my favorite things about being home is having the opportunity to work with kids and teach basketball and life lessons.  Coach Matt Rumble and I led a 4-day camp teaching the fundamentals and having fun. The campers also helped people in need by giving.  The campers donated over 20 pairs of athletic shoes to kids in Africa as well as canned goods to those in need.

Thank you to all the campers for working hard in a hot gym.  Special thanks also to Eddie McDonald And Jasper Middle School, Melissa Weeks, Deb’s bakery and supportive parents.

We hope to be able to host another camp soon.

(not all campers were available for the photo)

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