HOUSTON (FOX 26) — The National Basketball Players Association held one of its heart and health screening events for retired players at Toyota Center on Sunday.
The NBPA, led by its president, Rockets guard Chris Paul, along with help from the Retired Players Association, takes care of all of the expenses.
Since this program began three years ago more than 400 players have taken advantage of the NBPA’s efforts, including 25 in Sunday’s event.
“Unbelievable, if not for those guys we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing today,” said Chris Paul in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “One thing for certain is that every current player will someday be a retired player.”
Paul took time out from his game-day schedule to stop by and spend time with many of the players who were there to go through the testing process.
“It’s a true brotherhood and it’s a family and it’s always great to see those guys,” Paul said. “Sometimes we take so many things for granted on a daily basis. To talk to some of those guys and hear that we’re literally saving guys lives. Guys who are a part of this fraternity, part of this NBA basketball community, that’s better than any dunk, three-pointer, championship that you can ever win. That’s what it’s all about.”
The NBPA’s efforts are run by Joe Rogowski, their director of sports medicine.
Rogowski, who joined the NBPA after spending two years with the Houston Rockets, holds six of these heart and health screening events each year around the country.
“What we basically do is put together a battery of tests, from a preventative stance, to measure our guys’ hearts and orthopedic issues that they’ve had over their careers. It’s a good way to get all of the players together. It’s free of charge for our retired players, that’s completely supported by our current players. They know that these guys have laid the foundation for where they’re at today. So this is a way for our current players to give back to the retired guys.”
Rogowski and the NBPA’s efforts saved the life of Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald.
“He came to this screening in New York City two years ago. After having gone through the screening, we were able to detect a heart abnormality that he was able to get surgery on and a heart transplant. He’s very thankful for the program, because he didn’t know that he had this issue.”
Included among the players who took part Sunday were three former University of Houston stars, Otis Birdsong, Greg “Cadillac” Anderson and Carl Herrera.
“It’s tremendous,” Birdsong said. “We’ve always had a great working relationship with them. This program has really saved lives. I mean, literally, a lot of the players lives have been saved and changed because of it.”
Birdsong played in the NBA for 12 years. Anderson played 10 years in the league, while Herrera played for eight, including winning two NBA championship rings with the Rockets.
All three were thrilled to see Chris Paul.
“It just shows the type guy he is,” Birdsong said. “The class individual that he is. He’s old school. He’s a throw-back player. He knows the guys who paved the way for him to earn the type of living that he’s earning now. Just a tremendous guy, on and off the court.”
Herrera was happy to be able to personally let Paul know how he felt about this process.
“I thanked him for doing that,” Herrera said. I know it was his initiative. It’s great for us, believe me. I said to him ‘thank you for taking care of us.’”