A couple of old friends will go head-to-head for the top post in the New Providence Basketball Association (NPBA) when the election of officers is held this Saturday inside the Ministry of Education’s training room at 10 a.m.
Former league president Ricardo Smith is back in the fold, and he is being challenged by James Price for the NPBA presidency. Incumbent president Eugene Horton was recently elected as the first vice president of the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF), and will likely not be seeking re-election as NPBA chief.
Smith last served as president in 2001, and Price is a longtime coach and executive in the league.
They both have spoken toward bringing a certain level of prominence back to basketball in the capital island of The Bahamas. The NPBA is the governing body of basketball in New Providence and the largest member of the BBF.
“Persons in the basketball community have been approaching me about getting involved, and after careful consideration, I made the decision to do it again,” said Smith. “I’m ready. I carefully selected persons who are fit to run in various positions, and who are ready to serve. Our focus is on incentivizing the players and making sure that the product is well packaged and marketed. The whole idea is to move the league forward.”
Smith’s “One Team, One Dream” slate of officers includes himself for president, former national team player Steven “Stretch” Culmer for first vice president, former player Mario Pickstock for second vice president, Uriel Adderley for third vice president, Michael Demeritte for fourth vice president, Jemique Sands-Taylor for secretary, Requel Sands for assistant secretary, Carla Jackson for treasurer, Dwayne McGregor as commissioner, Attorney Domek Rolle as the assistant commissioner and sports broadcaster Marcellus Hall for public relations.
Price is offering himself for the top spot, and he is bringing with him legendary coach Kevin “K.J.” Johnson for the first vice president spot, Donillo “Donnie” Culmer for the second vice president spot, Kevin “Island” McPhee for the third vice president spot, Ryan “Rat” Turnquest as the fourth vice president, Rochelle Kemp for the secretary spot, Rhodnia Johnson for the assistant secretary spot, Sophia Hunter as the treasurer, Perry “Color” Thompson as the assistant treasurer, Anthony “Cops” Rolle for commissioner, Terrance “Red Eye” McSweeney for the assistant commissioner spot and Moses Johnson for public relations.
Price has stated his commitment to basketball in New Providence and gave assurance that his “Team Next Level” will work assiduously to ensure that the game of basketball in the capital stays vibrant and continues to move forward.
“After Eugene (Horton) decided to move on to the federation, I was approached about running for the presidency. For me, it’s an opportunity to make progress in the game of basketball in New Providence, and get it back to the level where it once was,” said Price. “No one credible really came forward after Eugene moved on, so I decided that since I’m retired from coaching, why not put my name forward and continue to contribute toward the development of basketball. This is an opportunity for me to see what I could get accomplished. My team is prepared to come to work and get the job done. We are not worried – the members will select the best possible candidate for the various positions. We believe that this is the team to get it done.”
A total of 13 clubs, with one representative each, are eligible to vote in Saturday’s elections. Smith, who also served as hotel league president, and briefly introduced a semi-pro Bahamian basketball team in the now defunct American Basketball Association (ABA), was involved in the league a year ago as the coach of the Malcom Park Pros.
“I’ve been involved in basketball for 30-plus years, as a player, referee, coach and administrator. I have assembled a well-rounded group of professionals who all bring talent, knowledge and commitment to the table. They are all very qualified in their respective fields, and are ready to serve to the best of their abilities,” said Smith. “If I didn’t think there was a chance to win, I would not enter. I’m in it to win it. Whatever I do, I do in a way so people could see that it is genuine and that I am putting my best foot forward. Very rare in life people get second chances. I believe this is mine, and I’m ready to make a difference. Let’s change basketball for the better together,” he added.
Smith outlined an aggressive agenda inclusive of awarding the league’s division one champions with a $10,000 cash prize. He said that it is his intention to open the new season with a live televised game and about 2,000 fans in the gym; introduce “Big Game Nights” to feature each team live on television; re-introduce the NPBA All-Star Weekend inclusive of an all-star party; stage a gala awards presentation banquet; introduce a team business manager for each team and have that person sit with league executives so as to discuss business matters and implement strategies; make monthly financial statements for all teams mandatory so as to ensure accountability and responsible management of league resources; introduce plans for two league fundraisers; secure sponsorship for team refreshments during games; roll out a new league marketing plan and a half-time entertainment schedule; open a new NPBA office; introduce a new 40-and-over league; introduce an all-division two team for travel and exposure; and introduce a Project Phoenix (PP) summer program with the intention of bringing back mini, super mini and junior division basketball under the wing of the NPBA. He said that the summer program will impart the fundamentals of the game of basketball and teach discipline and respect.
“This project will rise like the great phoenix from the ashes, giving young people a meaningful program to participate in during the summer,” he said.
Price said that his “Team Next Level” is looking forward to taking the NPBA to higher heights. He said they will create better working relationships between referees, players, coaches and executives; initiate and implement incentives for players; create better development programs for mini and super mini basketball; establish a secured home for the NPBA; establish an over-50 league for play on Sundays, thereby bringing back some of the glory days of basketball; have reduced packages for regular season games; and schedule radio and television broadcast games, among others.
They both have stated their intention to get fans back in the gym. The NPBA season usually opens in November, but it is up to the new executive team to finalize the teams and draft a schedule.
Smith said that if victorious, he has every intention of getting Price involved in the process of promoting and developing the basketball brand in New Providence.
“At the end of the day, you cannot deny that he has good intentions and means well. He has a purpose in basketball,” said Smith. “We are going to see how best we could utilize him in the framework of what we are doing. We will need all hands on deck to make this a great league again.”
Whoever is successful in Saturday’s elections is expected to serve for the next four years when the ensuing election of officers is scheduled to be held. No other candidate has offered for the top position at this particular time.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting