Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D.
Mentor/Chaplain for NBA Washington Bullets/Wizards for 20 seasons (1978/79 to 1997/98)

FINDING  THE  OPEN  MAN
"Business Wisdom & Life Lessons from an NBA Chaplain"

   I served as mentor/chaplain for the Washington Bullets/Wizards for 20 seasons -- available to be a sounding board for the players of the team, some in upper management, members of the coaching staff, and also players from other teams. I started as chaplain for the team the season directly after they won the NBA World Championship (1977-78)

/////<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<  T W E N T Y   N B A   S E A S O N S  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>\\\\\
1978 / '79   to   1997 / '98
 

1978/79


 
 

1997 / '98

 1st.  1978-79  PB, DC, CC
   2nd.  1979-80  PB
     3rd.  1980-81 
       4th.  1981-82  PB
 5th.  1982-83
   6th.  1983-84  PB
     7th.  1984-85  PB
       8th.  1985-86  PB
 9th.  1986-87  PB
   10th.  1987-88  PB
     11th.  1988-89
       12th.  1989-90
 13th.  1990-91
   14th.  1991-92
     15th.  1992-93
       16th. 
1993-94
 17th.  1994-95
   18th.  1995-96
     19th.  1996-97  PB
       20th.  1997-98

PB = Playoff Berth.      DC = Division Champions.      CC = Conference Champions.      LC = League Champions.

   To my knowledge, I was one of the first few team chaplains in the history of the NBA. How I became chaplain during the heyday of Kevin Porter, Elvin Hayes, Kevin Grevey, Bernard King, Wes Unseld, Jeff Ruland, Rick Mahorn, John Lucas, Chris Webber, Mitch Kupchak, and Manute Bol is another story -- soon to be the subject of a book.

   I quickly learned how to do the basics. Duties involved team meetings before every home game, counseling, studying with the players, golfing, hanging out, spending time together discussing top-of-mind issues, helping new players and their wives feel welcome and a part of a new team culture, keeping in touch with their parents, and so much more.

   Kind of a combined player development assistant, empathic listener, kick-butt coach, mentor, counselor, spiritual adviser, and confidant.

   Players at the NBA level do not have an easy time. Their position in life attracts a lot of insincere people with hidden agendas (with some not-so-hidden agendas), get-rich-quick schemes and negative influences.

   My job was to be a safe harbor for the players and their families. They knew that there would be absolute confidentiality, integrity and the truth...in their relationship with me.

   Absolute confidentiality and trustworthiness are about 90% of the job!!!

   Still keep in touch with a lot of the guys. I really miss the NBA players who have passed away: Wayman Tisdale, Manute Bol, Kevin Duckworth, Mel Turpin, Dan Roundfield, Armon Gilliam, and others...life is short.


with the Shaq shoe (size 22)

   Not long ago I was asked to speak about my experiences at the AOL headquarters, with about 150+ executives and other business leaders in attendance. The response was excellent.

Here are just a few of the life lessons I shared at the event, with illustrations:

    - Listen. And then listen some more.
      - Approach every day with curiosity.
        - Take your job seriously but not yourself too seriously.
          - Address problems with practical solutions.
            - Start projects worth finishing and then finish them with excellence.
              - Paint all the way to the edge of the canvas.
                - Life is short.
                  - Gratitude for everything. Everything.

   Over the years I have shared vignettes about my life with players at the pro level to illustrate a point. But this was the first time -- some 35 years after I had started -- that I made an entire presentation titled: "Business Wisdom & Life Lessons from an NBA Chaplain." Here's the first segment from that presentation.

PART ONE: What Does an NBA Chaplain Do? (10 min)

   The feedback from that event was so compelling that I am now working on a book, tentatively titled: "FINDING THE OPEN MAN: The Surprising Benefits of Unselfishness" -- due to be published mid-2015.

   I have already interviewed well over 20 people for this book (e.g. Del Harris, Pat Williams, Mark Eaton, Kevin Porter, Claude Terry, Kevin Grevey, Phil Chenier, Brent Price, Bob Ferry, Helen Carpenter, Mayce Webber, Jerry Colangelo, Al Egg, John Tolson, and many more...)

  The book will be addressing the various topics ranging from how the chaplaincy program started in the NBA and the 77/78 NBA Championship to stress at the pro level, emotional intelligence, James Naismith...the inventor of God's game, dealing with anger, head games, race relations, living for God on and off the court, diversity, lessons learned off the court that weren’t learned on the court, remembering players who have already left us (Wayman Tisdale, Dan Roundfield, Manute Bol, etc.), addressing the concept of Selfaholics Anonymous, and so much more.

 
   The book will also provide a message from retired players to the current crop of players -- "Poise in the Noise" -- as well as practical lessons from sports that can be applied to anyone in business, relationships, and everyday life.
 

   I want this to be a thoughtful, engaging book that will educate and inspire...as well as pull the curtain back for NBA fans to get a glimpse into the unique experiences at the pro level.

   I am available to speak at your organization (corporate, student event, men's breakfast, banquet, etc.)...

        Warmest Regards,
                   Joel
        Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D.

        CONTACT INFO:
        private line: 410-729-4011
        email: greatworkshops@gmail.com
        bio: www.JoelAFreeman.com


1978 NBA World Champions


Brief mention about NBA experience at Quantico, VA (Defense Security Service) -- 1:41

  NOTE: During my tenure as team chaplain I would occasionally bring friends and acquaintances with me to the arena. I never allowed cameras, asking for autographs, or "How's the weather up there?" comments in the back area of the arena because any of that kind of stuff would have harmed my relationship with the players.

  However,  there were some DC/Baltimore newspapers and other media outlets throughout the USA and Canada that wanted to do articles or human-interest stories for TV.

   I asked the players only a few times in two decades if they would grant permission for a reporter and photographer to be a part of the pre-game chapel experience. Below are a few pictures from some of those articles.

   In several of the pictures below I am about 35 years of age -- already having served a decade as team chaplain. I shake my head at how young I looked. You will too...


Officiating Kevin Grevey's wedding, June 23rd, 1984


At the AOL headquarters, asked to speak about my experiences as an NBA chaplain for 20 seasons. Here I am providing the background story, prior to becoming chaplain. I had left my Canadian home at the age of 17, becoming a long-haired hippie (see image to left)...hitchhiking around various parts of North America. The "scary" thing is that just 7 years after that photo was taken I became an NBA chaplain at 25 years of age!!

"Business Wisdom & Life Lessons from an NBA Chaplain"


Here I am sharing some opening remarks.


Here I am telling the amazing story -- how the Washington Bullets won the 1978 NBA Championship.
NOTICE: in the upper right-hand corner of the screen is the cover of the Media Guide for the 1978-79 season,
with the "fat lady singing" -- the season I started as chaplain. The season after the 1978 championship.


With George Muresan (7'7"), re-connecting at an event a few years ago.
 

 
1978 NBA WORLD CHAMPIONS
A cherished memento of two decades of service for the Washington Bullets/Wizards, even though I began my time
with the team the very next season (78/79).  Believe me, I earned it. Very grateful for the opportunity to have served...


1977-78 Media Guide.
Season the Bullets won the NBA World Championship!


The old Capital "Cap" Centre (closed 1997 demolished 2002)
A lot of fond memories from my time in this building.


A young version of me (1989) speaking in a pre-game meeting with Tom Hammonds (12-yr veteran) and 5 other players in the room. In these next few pictures (at 35) I had already served a decade as team chaplain
-- Baltimore Sun photo


With Olden Polynice (a 15-yr veteran).


Praying before the game...not to win...just to play -- injury free -- for God's glory.


At center court (1998) with the NBA Washington Wizards in DC (1979-1998).
After 20 seasons as team chaplain...retired a few months later    
-- Loyola Magazine photo


Here I am closing out the presentation -- "Game Over" -- with an illustration from Monopoly.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BULLETS/WIZARDS TEAM ROSTER during my TENURE as CHAPLAIN
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

78/79 (logo used from 1974-1987) ------------------------------------------- COACH: Dick Motta

42...Greg Ballard, 45...Phil Chenier, 40...Dave Corzine, 10...Bob Dandridge, 35...Kevin Grevey, 11...Elvin Hayes, 14...Tom Henderson, 15...Charles Johnson, 25...Mitch Kupchak, 22...Roger Phegley, 1...Kevin Porter, 41...Wes Unseld, 32...Larry Wright.
 

79/80  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Dick Motta

20...Gus Bailey, 42...Greg Ballard, 12...Ron Behagen, 4...Lawrence Boston, 45...Phil Chenier, 33...Jim Cleamons, 40...Dave Corzine, 10...Bob Dandridge, 35...Kevin Grevey, 11...Elvin Hayes, 25...Mitch Kupchak, 4...Steve Malovic,  22...Roger Phegley, 1...Kevin Porter, 41...Wes Unseld, 23...John Williamson, 32...Larry Wright.

80/81   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Gene Shue

42...Greg Ballard, 33...Dave Britton, 4...Lewis brown, 34...Austin Carr, 22...Don Collins, 10...Bob Dandridge, 35...Kevin Grevey, 11...Elvin Hayes, 25...Mitch Kupchak, 44...Rick Mahorn, 14...Wes Matthews, 33...Andre McCarter, 22...Keith McCord, 1...Kevin Porter, 20...Anthony Roberts, 12...Carlos Terry, 41...Wes Unseld, 23...John Williamson.
 

81/82   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Gene Shue

42...Greg Ballard, 9...Jim Chones, 22...Don Collins, 23...Charles Davis, 35...Kevin Grevey, 24...Spencer Haywood, 14...Brad Holland, 15...Frank Johnson, 5...John Lucas, 44...Rick Mahorn, 43...Jeff Ruland, 12...Carlos Terry, 20...Gary Witts.

 
82/83   -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Gene Shue

42...Greg Ballard, 34...Billy Ray Bates, 40...Dave Batton, 22...Don Collins, 4...Joe Cooper, 32...Chubby Cox, 23...Charles Davis, 35...Kevin Grevey, 24...Spencer Haywood, 15...Frank Johnson, 31...Joe Kopicki, 50...Steve Lingenfelter, 5...John Lucas, 44...Rick Mahorn, 1...Kevin Porter, 43...Jeff Ruland, 14...Ricky Sobers, 12...Carlos Terry, 13...Bryan Warrick.
 

83/84  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Gene Shue

42...Greg Ballard, 23...Charles Davis, 25...Darren Daye, 30...Mike Gibson, 15...Frank Johnson, 31...Joe Kopicki, 44...Rick Mahorn, 24...Jeff Malone, 54...Tom McMillen, 43...Jeff Ruland, 32...DeWayne Scales, 14...Ricky Sobers, 13...Bryan Warrick, 7...Michael Wilson.
 

84/85  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Gene Shue

42...Greg Ballard, 22...Dudley Bradley, 22...Don Collins, 23...Charles Davis, 25...Darren Daye, 15...Frank Johnson, 23...Charles Jones, 44...Rick Mahorn, 24...Jeff Malone, 54...Tom McMillen, 11...Cliff Robinson, 43...Jeff Ruland, 32...Tom Sewell, 1...Gus Williams, 3...Guy Willams.
 

85/86  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Kevin Loughery

10...Manute Bol, 22...Dudley Bradley, 25...Darren Daye, 21...Kenny Green, 7...Claude Gregory, 15...Frank Johnson, 31...George Johnson, 23...Charles Jones, 24...Jeff Malone, 3...Kevin McKenna, 54...Tom McMillen, 2...Perry Ross, 4...Cliff Robinson, 5...Dan Roundfield, 43...Jeff Ruland, 2...Ennis Whatley, 20...Freeman Williams, 1...Gus Williams, 32...Leon Wood.

86/87 (logo used from 1987-1997) ------------------------------------------- COACH: Kevin Loughery

14...Michael Adams, 10...Manute Bol, 33...Terry Catledge, 12...Darwin Cook, 15...Frank Johnson, 44...Anthony Jones, 23...Charles Jones, 24...Jeff Malone, 4...Moses Malone, 42...Jay Murphy, 25...Mike O'Koren, 5...Dan Roundfield, 31...Jay Vincent, 2...Ennis Whatley, 34...John Williams.
 

87/88   ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Kevin Loughery

31...Mark Alarie, 1...Muggsy Bogues, 10...Manute Bol, 33...Terry Catledge, 20...Steve Colter, 15...Frank Johnson, 23...Charles Jones, 30...Bernard King, 24...Jeff Malone, 4...Moses Malone, 42...Jay Murphy, 5...Darrell Walker, 34...John Williams.
 

88/89  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Wes Unseld

31...Mark Alarie, 33...Terry Catledge, 20...Steve Colter, 21...Ledell Eackles, 22...Dave Feitl, 44...Harvey Grant, 23...Charles Jones, 51...Charles Jones, 30...Bernard King, 24...Jeff Malone, 3...Dominic Pressley, 5...Darrell Walker, 34...John Williams.
 

89/90  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Wes Unseld

31...Mark Alarie, 20...Steve Colter, 21...Ledell Eackles, 44...Harvey Grant, 12...Tom Hammonds, 23...Charles Jones, 30...Bernard King, 24...Jeff Malone, 13...Doug Roth, 50...Melvin Turpin, 5...Darrell Walker, 34...John Williams.
 

90/91  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Wes Unseld

31...Mark Alarie, 21...Ledell Eackles, 43...Pervis Ellison, 14...A.J. English, 42...Greg Foster, 44...Harvey Grant, 12...Tom Hammonds, 32...Byron Irvin, 23...Charles Jones, 30...Bernard King, 2...Larry Robinson, 22...Clinton Smith, 5...Darrell Walker, 34...John Williams, 3...Haywoode Workman.
 

91/92  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Wes Unseld

10...Michael Adams, 3...Rex Chapman, 21...Ledell Eackles, 43...Pervis Ellison, 14...A.J. English, 42...Greg Foster, 44...Harvey Grant, 12...Tom Hammonds, 23...Charles Jones, 15...Albert King, 50...Ralph Sampson, 22...LaBradford Smith, 33...Larry Stewart, 35...Derek Strong, 1...Andre Turner, 55...David Wingate.

 
92/93  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Wes Unseld

42...Mark Acres, 10...Michael Adams, 15...Steve Burtt, 3...Rex Chapman, 13...Chris Corchiani, 43...Pervis Ellison, 42...Greg Foster, 44...Harvey Grant, 24...Tom Gugliotta, 32...Byron Irvin, 2...Buck Johnson, 23...Charles Jones, 34...Don MacLean, 50...Alan Ogg, 14...Doug Overton, 20...Brent Price, 5...Larry Robinson, 22...LaBradford Smith, 33...Larry Stewart.

 
93/94  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Wes Unseld

10...Michael Adams, 35...Ron Anderson, 4...Manute Bol, 32...Mitchell Butler, 3...Rex Chapman, 40...Calbert Cheaney, 50...Marty Conton, 00...Kevin Duckworth, 43...Pervis Ellison, 4...Andrew Gazet, 24...Tom Gugliotta, 42...Tito Horford, 34...Don MacLean, 77...Gheorghe Muresan, 14...Doug Overton, 4. Gerald Paddio, 20...Brent Price, 22...LaBradford Smith, 33...Larry Stewart, 15...Kenny Walker.
 

94/95  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Jim Lynam

32...Mitchell Butler, 3...Rex Chapman, 40...Calbert Cheaney, 00...Kevin Duckworth, 24...Tom Gugliotta, 5...Juwan Howard, 34...Don MacLean, 22...Jim McIlvaine, 77...Gheorghe Muresan, 31...Brian Oliver, 20...Brent Price, 14...Doug Overton, 4...Scott Skiles, 33...Larry Stewart, 21...Anthony Tucker, 15...Kenny Walker, 2...Chris Webber.
 

95/96  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Jim Lynam

32...Mitchell Butler, 40...Calbert Cheaney, 34...Michael Curry, 21...Ledell Eackles, 1...Greg Grant, 5...Juwan Howard, 23...Tim Legler, 42...Cedric Lewis, 55...Bob McCann, 22...Jim McIlvaine, 77...Gheorghe Muresan, 14...Robert Pack, 54...Mike Peplowski, 20...Brent Price, 15...Mark Price, 12...Kevin Pritchard, 34...Bob Thornton, 30...Rasheed Wallace, 2...Chris Webber, 42...Jeff Webster, 12...Chris Whitney.
 

96/97  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COACH: Jim Lynam

50...Ashraf Amaya, 40...Calbert Cheaney, 22...Matt Fish, 44...Harvey Grant, 5...Juwan Howard, 32...Jaren Jackson, 23...Tim Legler, 77...Gheorghe Muresan, 35...Tracy Murray, 15...Gaylon Nickerson, 1...Rod Strickland, 30...Ben Wallace, 2...Chris Webber, 12...Chris Whitney, 43...Lorenzo Williams.

97/98 (logo used from 1997-now) --------------------------------------------- COACH: Bernie Bickerstaff

40...Calbert Cheaney, 52...Terry Davis, 21...Ledell Eackles, 44...Harvey Grant, 31...Darvin Ham, 5...Juwan Howard, 23...Tim Legler, 3...Lawrence Moten, 35...Tracy Murray, 33...Jimmy Oliver, 2...God Shammgod, 1...Rod Strickland, 30...Ben Wallace, 2...Chris Webber, 12...Chris Whitney, 43...Lorenzo Williams.


 


The Washington Bullets/Wizards

H  I  S  T  O  R  Y      I  N      L  O  G  O  S
 


Chicago Zephyrs 1962-1963

__________________________________________________________


Baltimore Bullets 1963-1969

__________________________________________________________


Baltimore Bullets 1969-1973

__________________________________________________________


Capital Bullets 1973-1974

__________________________________________________________


Washington Bullets 1974-1987

__________________________________________________________


Washington Bullets 1987-1997

__________________________________________________________


Washington Wizards Primary Logo 1997-Present

__________________________________________________________


Washington Wizards Secondary Logo 1997-Present

 

__________________________________________________________

Dr. Joel Freeman served as mentor/chaplain for the NBA
Washington Bullets/Wizards for 19 years (1979-'98)
__________________________________________________________
 

"Business Wisdom & Life Lessons from an NBA Chaplain"

AVAILABLE TO SPEAK AT YOUR ORGANIZATION

private line: 410-729-4011
        email: greatworkshops@gmail.com
        bio: www.JoelAFreeman.com

 

 

The Bullets / Wizards Logo Museum
Courtesy of
The Freeman Institute
Box 305, Gambrills, MD 21054
410-729-4011
EMAIL

NBAchaplain.com
NBAmentor.com

 

Hit Counter

 

"washington bullets -- washington wizards -- nba -- national basketball association -- Chicago Zephyrs -- Baltimore Bullets -- Wes Unseld"

 

"washington bullets -- washington wizards -- NBA -- Joel Freeman -- motivational speaker -- 1978 championship -- abe pollin -- wes unseld -- fat lady sing -- chaplain -- mentor"