Dates: Sunday, September 21 - Friday, September 26
Attendees: Incoming first-year players
Q&A with Character, Image & Ethics panelists Rev. Butts, Roberts
Silas talks to rooks about the player-coach relationship
Bavetta introduces rooks to world of officiating
Manu advises international rookies
Silas says LeBron won't play at point
Gallery: Rookie portraits | Quotes: Rookies on the RTP Rookies get lessons in life skills Cram session in off-court stuff LeBron is aware of game's history Relationships can be hard to figure

For nearly 20 years, the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association have worked jointly to develop a series of programs to provide its players with the skills and information necessary for a successful transition to the NBA. The commitment to player development starts at the very beginning of a player’s career through the NBA Rookie Transition Program. Created in 1986, the Rookie Transition Program is the longest-running and most extensive support system in professional sports and features a comprehensive assortment of educational and developmental programs.

Like all incoming first-year players, Carmelo Anthony will take part in the Rookie Transition Program.
Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Gallery: Rookie portraits
Each September, every Rookie takes part in this mandatory six-day seminar and workshop program that provides first-hand knowledge of what to expect as a player in the NBA and how to balance these pressures and demands. Sessions generally run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and are conducted by league and player association personnel, current and former players and experts in each of the fields covered.

The program is designed to teach players techniques to cope with unique stresses inherent in their lives and how to utilize the various resources available to them throughout their careers. Leading professionals facilitate the program using presentations, role-playing, skits and interactive workshops, as well as group breakout sessions. At the end of each day, players participate in an interactive activity designed to highlight the day's lessons. The diverse offering of sessions include:

Professional and Life Skills
Computer Training

Player Development
Coach's Huddle
NBA Legends Panel
Player to Player Panel with current NBA players
Players Association meeting
Rules of the Game
Special Sessions with Bill Russell and Bob Love

Personal Development and Education
Character, Image and Ethics Panel
Driving Safety
Drugs and Alcohol
Sexual Health
Stress and Anger Management

Media and Community Relations
Community Relations
Media Training
NBA Communications
NBA Entertainment

Legal Education
Felony Situations
Gender Violence
Sexual Harassment

Special Sessions
Focus on the unique challenges facing:
- International players (i.e. Cultural Adaptation; Overcoming the Language Barrier; Acclimating to the NBA-style of play)
- Players "20 and under" (i.e. Being on your own for the first time; Interacting with Veterans; How to deal with Peer Pressure situations)

The NBA Rookie Transition Program is administered by the Player Development Departments from the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association. Comprised of former players, social workers, educators and other experts, these professionals meet regularly with all NBA teams and collectively serve as a 24-hour support system for players. This full-time group of professionals is dedicated to helping NBA players manage a variety of life issues and proactively address their needs.

Q&A with Purvis Short
Purvis Short is the Director of the National Basketball Players Association's Player Services Department. During his 12-year NBA career, Short was a player representative for nine years and a NBPA Vice President from 1987-90. Short joined the NBPA's Player Services Department in 1993.

Q: It's obviously an impressive itinerary for a rookie, with so many guest speakers and tips on how to handle NBA life. What do you want a rookie to come away with from this program?

Short: We'd like them to leave the Transition, based on all the information and tools we provide, with a solid foundation on which they can build and make better decisions, better choices in their lives as NBA players. Our goal as well is to make sure they understand the challenges and pressures they are about to confront and how to deal with them. We want them to know that there are support mechanisms and programs in place available to them 24/7. In addition, I think what's most important is that it doesn't end there. We have a lot of follow-up with the rookies during the regular season just to reinforce the information that was given and to make sure that things are going as well can be expected. And if that if they have any problems just to let them know this is not a one-shot deal.

Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing rookies today and how does the program address these issues? How have the pressures changed for the pro athlete since you left the game?

Short: I think in a lot of ways the pressures are the same. But , the biggest difference I see is the expansion of the media. There's more exposure. But as it relates to the pressures, the pressures I think are very similar. It's not just about games, it's dealing with their newfound celebrity, responsibilities and the demands that are placed on a player. All of those pressures are still prevalent. But now they may be magnified because of the media that's available.

Q&A with Mike Bantom
Mike Bantom joined the NBA in 1989 after a 16-year professional playing career in the NBA and Europe. He moved into his current position as Senior Vice President of Player Development in October 1999. Bantom is responsible for overseeing and administering all of the NBA’s programs that orientate, educate and enhance its players to help them realize their full potential on and off the court. The most prominent of which is the Rookie Transition Program.

Q: What do you want a rookie to come away from this program?

Bantom: A rookie is exposed to an abundance of information on the following topics: Finance, Drug and Alcohol Use, Legal Education, Professional and Life Skills, Business of Basketball, Professionalism, Ethics, Character and Personal Responsibility. In addition to attempting to raise their awareness about the many sub-topics that fall under these general categories, the main thing we want players to take away from the program is the availability of resources to assist them. The player programs departments of both the NBA and the NBPA are dedicated to assisting players in handling any challenges they might encounter that could become problems for them. We are available at all times and they have our numbers. The other key message is the importance of being a life-long learner … .hopefully this message sticks with them long after they leave us.

Q: What was the thinking behind starting the program and what has changed over the years?

Bantom: It has to do with former players recognizing that a program such as this was necessary to help players avoid some of the mistakes that those before them had fallen victim to. Also the recognition that there is no background that prepares one for the unique set of circumstances that one encounters when he enters the world of professional athletics especially in today's media driven society.