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The Next Chapter

Former WNBA players Allison Feaster and Stacey Lovelace make the most out of NBA post-career opportunities

Both finished the inaugural class of the NBA Basketball Operations Associate Program and are in with the G League

Allison Feaster and Stacey Lovelace were both dominant college players on the basketball court in the ’90s. They both went on to have lasting professional basketball careers. And after retiring from the game, they both turned to the same NBA league program to lead them into their next chapter in life.

They both were part of the inaugural NBA Basketball Operations Associate Program, which was created to prepare former NBA and WNBA players to pursue career opportunities in team management positions.

Along with former NBA players Brian Cardinal, Drew Gooden, Corey Maggette and Troy Murphy, Lovelace and Feaster were trained in basketball operations core competencies and gained exposure to team-facing league departments.

The experience gives participants one year of full-time employment while offering league office experience that includes joining meetings, lending their input to league initiatives, and attending games and league events (All-Star Weekend, draft combine and summer league).

“There was no employment promise at the end of the program, just having faith that something would materialize,” Feaster said of the yearlong program based at the NBA’s offices in New York.

Feaster led the nation in scoring at Harvard University in 1998 before being drafted fifth overall into the WNBA by the Los Angeles Sparks. Over her 10-year career, she also played with the Charlotte Sting and Indiana Fever, as well as in Europe from 1998 through 2016. While playing in Spain she contemplated switching gears. She’d already earned her MBA and was an NBA Ambassador in Europe and Africa — volunteer work she loved.

“I got a job offer to work at NBA Spain, in Madrid,” she said. “Right as I was about to accept that role, I got a call from Greg Taylor [senior vice president of player development for the NBA] here at the league office, telling me about this program. It was obviously an opportunity that I couldn’t let slip away. It was the opportunity I’ve been waiting for so many years.”

Feaster is now the G League player personnel and coach relations lead and serves as one of the primary liaisons for the NBA G League Basketball Operations group. Her responsibilities include maintaining relationships with players, agents and coaches, engaging with the NBA G League Competition Committee regarding playing rules and roster construction, and serving as the point person for the league’s international strategy.

Feaster calls her experience in the program door-opening and educational. In addition to the program’s work assignments, they were tasked with exploring their areas of weakness. The end result was a Harvard Business School executive education program as a part of the management development program.

She advises other players transitioning out of basketball to “be prepared.”

“A lot of players expect a transition from the court to a front office or to the league office or to the next career to be seamless, and it’s not …,” Feaster said. “There are people that are nonathletes that have worked years and years to have their positions in these organizations. Just the simple fact of being a former player is not enough.

“It’s hard dedicating your life to physically being at your best and competing in one arena day in and day out, and then to have that door close and have to start completely over. I would say invest the free time that you have as a player to strengthen yourself. It’s a grind.”

Feaster and Lovelace both identified the G League as a place where they’d fit.

“It just so happens that toward the end of the program, a position became available,” Feaster said.

Lovelace, a Detroit native, started her WNBA career with the Seattle Storm in 2000 and played professionally for 14 seasons. The Purdue standout and two-time Associated Press All-American retired from the WNBA in 2008 and earned a master’s degree in sports management from the University of Michigan in 2014.

She found the business of sports intriguing. She was an assistant coach at Oakland University in Michigan when she got the call about the operations program. She didn’t want to pass up on the new and exciting opportunity.

“It was something that I had inquired about in passing, but because it was a new program at the time, there weren’t a lot of specifics as to what the program would look like,” Lovelace said. “I jumped at the opportunity. … I felt like it was something I would be interested in.”

Lovelace is now the player development program officer for the NBA G League. She is responsible for the execution of NBA G League Player Development programming, including team awareness meetings and the NBA G League continuing education and life skills program.

“The operations program was an immersing experience into the business side of basketball at the NBA,” Lovelace said. “We got to learn about a lot of the different areas that the league has available. As a player, we’re kind of limited to our exposure to the business. What the program did was expose us on a different level to all of the different areas of the business, from referee operation, from basketball operations, to player development, which is what I do now, to G League, W, just all of the things that’s going on behind the scenes in the league office.”

For other WNBA players interested in the program, Lovelace’s advice is to “just work.”

“The opportunities will present themselves if you just work and continue to utilize relationships that you built,” she said.

Kelley Evans is a digital producer at Andscape. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic Southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.