In June 2015, after working for 14 years in the NFL league office, David Krichavsky joined the NBA to lead the NBA Jr., the league’s youth basketball program that began in the early 1970s. 2000s. Krichavsky was drawn to the job because the league became increasingly committed to the NBA Jr. under the leadership of Adam Silver, who had been appointed commissioner the year before. Krichavsky also had experience in youth sports initiatives since joining the NFL.
Over the past six plus years, the Jr. NBA program has grown to reach millions of children around the world, most of whom are between the ages of 6 and 14. And he’s looking to have even more impact as the league partners with two nonprofits to focus on helping coaches and players on and off the pitch.
The NBA works with Laureus Sport for Good, which was founded in 2000 with the aim of using sport to promote youth development and combat violence and discrimination. The association says it was created in response to former South African President Nelson Mandela’s statement that “sport has the power to change the world” and supported more than 341,000 children in more than 40 countries in 2019 .
The NBA and Laureus are launching a free online program for youth coaches with a focus on communicating with players and teaching them social, emotional and leadership skills. The league already offers online training programs and seminars for youth coaches, but these focus on X’s and Bones and drills to improve dribbling, passing, shooting and defense. For example, it offers 48 training plans and over 250 instructional videos featuring NBA and WNBA players that coaches and players can access for free. Still, the league wanted to broaden its offer and believed Laureus to be an ideal match.
The NBA is also partnering with Girls Leadership, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, Calif. That works with girls and women on leadership development. Girls Leadership has created an online emotional and social learning program that will be part of the NBA Jr.’s “Her Time to Play” initiative launched in 2018 to increase participation in women’s basketball.
In addition, the NBA is expanding its Jr. NBA Next Level Mentality program, which consists of online videos focused on mental health and featuring information from mental performance coaches and NBA and WNBA players. The league plans to have the program in over 3,000 elementary and middle schools this year.
“(These programs) are about access and opportunity, increasing equitable participation in the sport of basketball,” Krichavsky said. “It stems from our experience with the pandemic when sport was taken away from so many of us, as well as the lack of equity between communities. We knew we had to do more to increase access and equity in youth basketball. “
During the 2019-20 season, an estimated 14.5 million young players around the world attended Jr. NBA youth camps and events, according to the league. But since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, the league has halted these events in person and moved to online events. The league says these virtual events have attracted more than 210 million views on social media from 118 countries.
The flagship event for the Jr. NBA is the Jr. NBA Global Championship, a tournament that began in 2018 and features many of the best 13 and 14 year old players and girls from around the world. This tournament did not take place in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic, but league officials plan to hold it in 2022 as long as the number of coronavirus cases is low and government officials allow indoor events. .
Now, through partnerships with Laureus Sport and Girls Leadership and the expanded Jr. NBA Next Level Mentality program, the NBA hopes to have an even greater impact on children and coaches and impart lessons that last well beyond their years. playing days.
“We know that a young person’s experience through sport can be developmentally amazing in terms of developing as a person,” said Krichavsky. “Investing in this development off the field and providing leadership training and mentoring through coaches will benefit the players who are part of their programs. “