Jonathan Bender – there is always an opportunity
Jonathan Bender – there is always an opportunity
Basketball is a beautiful sport and the life of an NBA player is a very good life to have. In fact, NBA players are the most payed athletes in the world, earning $6.2 million per year during the average 4.8 year career. Simple math reveals that an average NBA player will earn $29.76 million throughout his career. Yes, it’s a really good life to have.
However, the story has its downside because outside of the NBA, life of a basketball player is everything but milk and honey. And considering the popularity that basketball has among youths compared to the limited number of roster spots that the NBA allows, chances of making it to the league are slim for a major number of candidates. Even NBA D-League, which is the NBA’s minor league, grants only $26,000 per year salary for its best players.
To put things into perspective – overall, only one out of 75 NCAA players will make the NBA journey, which is 1.3% of all collegiate players. For high-school prospects, the percentage of NBA breakthroughs is 0.03%, meaning that only three out of 10,000 student-athletes make it.
Basketball is a global game, so fortunately for those who don’t receive that NBA call, there are opportunities overseas for making a career. Even still, these countries are developing their own professional leagues with their ownhomegrown talent and given the massive player base here in the USA themajority of candidates never get a real opportunity to make a living from basketball.
But we’re not here to talk about these hurdles. They are worth mentioning and it’s fair to make future talents aware of them. We’re here to provide a solution, an example of how you can make it outside of the NBA and moving overseas. We want to tell you a story of a man who was one of the 0.03% of high-schoolers that did make it to NBA, but due to life’s circumstances was restricted from ever reaching his full potential in the game of basketball. As one would see an end, he saw an opportunity and as a result of innovative thinking and hard work he has provided the opportunity for aspiring basketball talents a new avenue to success.
This is a story about Jonathan Bender and his vision of a brand new concept for basketball players, a new league created by Bender and his collaborators, the NSBA League.
Promising NBA prospect
To this date, Jonathan Bender is the 15th youngest player that ever stepfoot on the NBA court in uniform. Playing for Picayune Memorial High School in Mississippi, he caught the attention of NBA scouts with his length, great mobility and athleticism. It’s worth mentioning that Bender holds the record for the most points scored in the McDonald’s All-American game with 31 points in 1999, surpassing the previous record of 30 set by no other than Michael Jordan.
Jonathan Bender scores 31 points, breaking Michael Jordan’s record. 1999
Jonathan Bender surpasses Michael Jordan to become the all-time boys points leader with 31.
His performances allowed him to skip collegiate basketball and despite his verbal commitment with Mississippi State University, Bender declared for the 1999 NBA Draft. He was selected 5th overall pick by the Toronto Raptors who immediately traded him to the Indiana Pacers for Antonio Daniels. And so, at only 18 years of age, at 6’11’’ Bender entered the world’s largest basketball arena.
As a player, Bender had the full package to be an NBA star. His quickness, jumpingand shooting ability were unique for a player of his height. As a 6’11’’ player with outside perimeter game, hitting 3’s, running the floor, defending wing players and blocking shots is quite a rarity –in fact, Bender was the Kevin Durant before Kevin Durant arrived.
His first NBA game came with another record. In 13 minutes spent on the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bender scored 10 points becoming the first high school drafted player to score double digits in his NBA debut. He also participated in the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest in 2001, showcasing an impressive left-handed dunk from the free throw line. Quite a dunk for a player of his size.
As his career continued on the rise, Bender signed a four-year contract extension with the Pacers after the 2001-02 season, worth $28.5 million. The expectations were high, and everything was in place for Bender to climb up the NBA star ladder.
After signing the new contract, things took a downturn for Bender’s career and it wasn’t due to his performance. Unfortunately, it was the constant injuries that were holding his career back.
While in high school, Bender grew 6 inches in one summer. This rapid growth spurt demands massive pressure on both the knees and wrists. Instead of resting and adjusting to his body change, Bender continued on his intense training.
And when his NBA career was expected to flourish, it was his knees that let him down. In the season that followed his contract extension, Bender played only 46 games and in the next three seasons he was active in 30 games total.
The ongoing knee problems, surgeries and therapies eventually took its toll, as Bender decided to take a rest from professional basketball after playing only two games in 2005-06 season.
Turning negative into positive
When a person is faced with a problem, it’s the approach and mindset that dictates the outcome. It’s about trying to find new opportunities, overcoming struggles and coming out stronger. Bender’s story can be a great example of how you can always find another way to be successful when things work against you.
Faced with constant treatments and therapies that were keeping him off the court, Bender started to realize by observing people walking and the way they walk, that he could use his knowledge accumulated from the frequent conversationswith doctors and therapists to create a tool that can help people relieve joint pain.
He used this time of absence from basketball and through constant development by probe-mistake principle, Bendereventually went on to develop a pressure-relief tool that would later become to be known as the JB Intensive Trainer.
During the development of his entrepreneurial side and creativity, Bender was offered by Donnie Walsh, president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks at that time, heading into the 2009-10 NBA season a contract to play again. After three years of absence from the floor he was given the opportunity to once again play NBA basketball.
Bender played 25 games for the Knicks that season, after which he called it a career. Although he had struggles and disappointments, a lot of great things came out of his career. Aware that his entrepreneurial skills and discipline would bring him massive opportunities, Bender did not worry about his future. His basketball comeback provides proof that his product is helpful and that all the energy he invested in its creation paid off. Having invested so much time in its development, he saw the opportunity for marketing and branding this innovative device that can help people with the same problems he dealt with throughout his career.
And so, in July2013, after years of planning, finding distribution channels and manufacturers, JB Intensive Trainer made its way to the market. His first goal of $500,000 in product sales in the first year was fulfilled and sales have since constantly grown with each passing month.
This story began with basketball and has turned into an entrepreneurship story. And finally, we are combining them to present the great idea and vision that Bender with his associates developed – the NSBA League.
As Jonathan Bender himself once said, speaking on his decision to leave the basketball court and enter the business arena, “the most satisfying part is not to feel like a product anymore, but like something new and improved — my own brand.“
It was this thinking which led to a new, innovative concept of the game of basketball, a league where every player makes his own path to success, creating a brand for himself along the way, and giving players the opportunity to find a new avenue to a basketball career outside of the NBA.
Led by all the struggles that come with trying to make it as a basketball player and his own NBA and entrepreneurial experiences, Bender came up with the idea of a professional basketball league in which every player represents himself, competing in a 1on1 game at “Prize Fighting” events, with new rules madespecifically for 1on1 basketball.
And the opportunity finally arrived. Bender was a guest speaker in the Top 20 Entrepreneur event in Denver, CO, where he met Imran Khan, an experienced entrepreneur and founder of Major Key Movements, a company that provides a turnkey solution from idea to execution for entrepreneurs, start-ups and established businesses. Imran and his business partner and long-time friend Marko Ciklic, provide a great mixture of experience in the corporate and entrepreneurial world, which was the perfect combination for Bender’s idea of this innovative NSBA League.
Only one meeting between them was enough for them to join together in making Bender’s vision a reality. As a result, the new league was formed, with Jonathan Bender as the Serial Entrepreneur Vision Execution, Imran Khan as the Founding Partner and Collaborator Lead Operations and Business Development, and Marko Ciklic as Founding Partner and Executive Sales Coordinator for the NSBA League.Together, they bring a breath of fresh air in the world of basketball,giving players a chance to combine their basketball and entrepreneurship skills for great career opportunities.
NSBA offers lucrative contracts and prizes for its best players, who have the opportunity to compete on the big stage, watched by large audiences and numerous basketball scouts from all over the world. The goal of the league is by the year 2018 for players to be earning six-figures in one night. It’s a great way to promote yourself, make a unique brand for your name and learn how to create your own path to glory.
During the events, players will also have the chance to learn about entrepreneurship and start-up businesses, as NSBA provides free courses for all of those interested in possessing skills to make their ideas and innovations become a reality.
The new league is coming, so be prepared. Our first NSBA Eliminations Event starts on June 3rd and 4th in Indianapolis, IN, followed by the first NSBA Main Event on June 24th.
If you want to make a brand for yourself and make your ideas become a reality, join us and share our vision of this new approach to basketball with Jonathan Bender and the NSBA Team.
Everything is on you!
Work hard, dream big, and start yourSoloFlight. We’ll be expecting you.