The fight continues even at 80

Looks can surely be deceiving, and for part-time Kaua‘i resident Bill “Tosh” Tosheff, a former NBA co-rookie of the year, the NBA and David Stern haven’t seen nothing yet.

The 79-year-old is one of 42 pre-1965 NBA players who played less than five years in the league, making them ineligible for the league pension plan.

Tosh’s fight goes way back to when he started the Pre-1965 NBA Players Association 18 years ago.

Today his main method of running down the NBA for some money for his boys is on an Internet radio show.

The San Diego-based show, called “Vintage NBA,” runs from noon to 1 p.m. (HST) every Monday at www.worldtalkradio.com.

In Tosh’s two shows so far, it’s been a wild ride. Seeing Tosh talk in person to media members at a Las Vegas convention, it’s clear he commands a lot of respect, even nearing the age of 80.

He’s is a no-nonsense type of guy, and his sometimes abrasive efforts garnered a lump sum of $100,000 for his 41 players a few months ago.

For Tosh, the amount is a drop in the bucket and just a way to get him to shut up. But he’s not about to close his pie hole just yet.

“It’s almost like a slap in the face,” Tosh said of the six-figure lump sum.

The NBA, a multi-billion dollar organization, is dropping the ball.

Those who laid down the ground work and paved the way for players like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Steve Nash are the ones who are getting a raw deal.

The pre-1965 gang’s dying off like near-extinct animals, and to Tosh, it seems that’s exactly what David Stern and the NBA wants.

“They’re waiting for all of us to creep into our graves and go to our happy places,” Tosh said.

Tosh, an Indiana Basketball Hall of Famer and former World War II fighter pilot, likes Kaua‘i because it’s an escape from the zoo he calls San Diego.

Not to mention, he likes to see his daughter Michelle, an Aqua Engineers employee, and granddaughter Lea, who he said will probably outgrow him someday.

But before that day comes, Tosh likes to believe he’ll finally get the NBA to grow up and help his group of pioneers with pensions.

His Internet radio show has garnered a big following so far, in part because its format accomodates callers. The toll-free number is 866-613-1612.

Tosh is man of his word and when he started fighting for pensions for the pre-1965 guys almost two decades ago, he said he’d fight ‘til there was no fight left in him.

Since then, he’s been on almost every major network, newspaper and radio station, but this worldwide Internet radio gig might be his greatest ammunition against the NBA.

No matter how his crusade ends, Tosh said at least he will know he kept his word, his 18-year-old promise.

And that’s the type of cat he is. One that sticks it out ‘til the cows or sheep come home — just ask his adopted son-in-law Daryl Kaneshiro.

As he parted ways with the young media members in Las Vegas last year, Tosh said, “You guys will help me with this issue and you’ll be my voices, which will carry on, and someday the NBA will listen.”

Though it’s not certain if the NBA will ever help out Tosh’s men, at least he knows he’s fighting a good fight.

And for Tosh, a true man of his word, that’s what’s important.

Just don’t get him started on the NBA and its unwillingness to help.

• Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or kauaisports@kauaipubco.com.

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