Want to be an NBA General Manager? Here are 10 Potential Career Paths

nba general managers

Being an NBA general manager puts you in charge of what goes on the court – but how do you get there?

While in college and working at the campus television station my future started to become clear. I had finally figured out my path, I was destined to work in front of the camera at a sports network.

Not exactly a bombshell discovery, many have had the same vision, but for me it was groundbreaking since so much of my college life was spent adrift.

My older brother was the first person I told, and being supportive of this journey he began researching how all of the sportscasters on ESPN got their start. He provided me pages of printouts detailing where Larry Beil went to school, what Craig Kilborn studied as an undergrad and the first TV market Suzy Kolber ever set foot in.

Turns out I didn’t have the on-air skill set, at least not then, but this background information provided me a clear path to success if I chose it and an answer to the question – how?

Many people ask us how to become an NBA general manager, the answer: start with research much like the kind my brother conducted for me.

We’ve already profiled the sports career path of ten MLB general managers – now we take on the NBA general managers:

Sam Presti – Oklahoma City Thunder

Hometown: Presti was born and raised in Concord, Massachusetts

how to become a NBA General Manager

Sam Presti, General Manager Oklahoma City Thunder

College: Presti graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Communication, Politics and Law – becoming the first Rhodes scholar nominee in the history of the school. He was also a four-year basketball letterman, serving as team captain his junior and senior seasons

First “Job”: After graduation Presti had his sights set on the NBA and was fortunate enough to find himself at a Basketball camp in Aspen, Colorado that Spurs GM R.C. Buford was scheduled to attend.

The camp lasted four days, but Buford didn’t show up until the final day and Presti knew if he was going to make an impression he had to act fast. The then 23-year old saw Buford refereeing a game and decided to run up and down the court with him, peppering questions about landing an internship with the team.

Both Buford and Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich were impressed, but only impressed enough to offer him a video internship that paid just a minuscule amount. Presti was allowed to break down video within the cozy confines of a converted custodial closet.

Sports Career Path:

  • Video Intern – San Antonio Spurs
  • Basketball Special Assistant – Spurs
  • Assistant Director of Scouting – Spurs
  • Director of Player Personnel – Spurs
  • Vice President/Assistant General Manager – Spurs
  • NBA General Manager – Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Executive Vice President/General Manager – Thunder

Getting the Band Back Together: Presti is an accomplished drummer and has produced three music CDs with all proceeds benefiting the Extra Ordinary Needs Fund at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Coach Popovich on Presti: ““He’s one smart dude, No. 1, that’s the first thing you figure out very quickly with Sam. The second thing you figure out, he’s a total team player, just a great human being who is comfortable in his own skin, loyal, hard-working. He couldn’t have been better for us, and he’s even better now.”

[bctt tweet=”Sam Presti’s first @NBA job was w the @Spurs breaking down video in a former custodial closet”]

Bob Myers – Golden State Warriors

Hometown: Danville, California

College: Myers graduated from UCLA with a degree in business and economics. Steve Lavin, then an assistant coach at UCLA, convinced Myers to try out for the basketball team. Myers made the squad as a walk-on in 1993 before earning an athletic scholarship the following year.

First Job after Graduation: Myers collegiate coach, Jim Harrick, introduced him to sports agent Arn Tellem who hired him as an intern at Tellem and Associates in 1997 while he completed his law degree at Loyola Law School. This is where Myers flourished, spending the next 14 years as a sports agent.

Sports Career Path:

  • Intern – Tellem and Associates (Sports Agency)
  • Associate Sports Agent– Tellem and Associates
  • Vice President/Sports Agent – SFX Sports
  • Sports Agent – Wasserman Media Group
  • Assistant General Manager – Golden State Warriors
  • NBA General Manager – Warriors

Personal Mantra: “You can’t ensure success, but you can deserve it. I like that [saying] because you can’t guarantee results, but you can put in the effort to achieve them. If you put in hard work, something positive usually comes with that.” – Bob Myers

[bctt tweet=”You can’t ensure success, but you can deserve it – @Warriors GM Bob Myers #sportsbiz”]

R.C. Buford – San Antonio Spurs

Hometown: Robert Canterbury “R.C.” Buford was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas.

College: Buford played college basketball at Texas A&M University and Oklahoma State before receiving his degree from Friends University. Never heard of Friends University? It’s a small (~ 2,500 students) private university in Wichita, Kansas. Their mascot, since I bet you are dying to know, is Freddie the Falcon.

First Job after Graduation: Began his coaching career at the University of Kansas in 1983 under the legendary Larry Brown. Buford spent five years as an assistant coach at Kansas, leaving the program after the 1988 National Championship to follow Brown to the NBA.how to prepare for your sports job search ebook

Sports Career Path:

  • Graduate Assistant – University of Kansas
  • Assistant Coach – Kansas
  • Assistant Coach – San Antonio Spurs
  • First Assistant Coach – Los Angeles Clippers
  • Assistant Coach – University of Florida
  • Head Scout – San Antonio Spurs
  • Director of Scouting – Spurs
  • Vice President/Assistant General Manager – Spurs
  • NBA General Manager – Spurs
  • President of Sports Franchises – Spurs Sports and Entertainment

All-Star Team: When Buford made the jump to the NBA as an assistant on Larry Brown’s staff, the other assistants were a who’s who of the current industry – Gregg Popovich, Alvin Gentry and Ed Manning. His powerful friendships don’t stop there, while playing at Oklahoma State his best friend on the team was current Kansas Head Coach Bill Self.

Masai Ujiri – Toronto Raptors

Hometown: Zaria, Nigeria

how to become an NBA General Manager

Masai Ujiri, the first African born general manager in any of the four major US pro sports leagues (Photo Courtesy: TorontoSun.com)

College: Ujiri immigrated to the US and attended Bismarck State College where he played basketball for two years. He transferred to Montana State University – Billings, but left after one semester without playing.

First Job after Graduation: Ujiri played professional Basketball in Europe from 1996-2002. After ending his playing career, he began working as a youth coach in his native Nigeria. His big break came after impressing an Orlando Magic scout…just enough to get an unpaid international scouting gig with the team.

Sports Career Path:

  • Youth Coach in Nigeria
  • Unpaid Scout – Orlando Magic
  • International Scout – Denver Nuggets
  • Director of Global Scouting – Toronto Raptors
  • Assistant General Manager – Raptors
  • Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations – Denver Nuggets
  • NBA General Manager – Toronto Raptors

On playing professionally in Europe: “I made some money, learned a lot about basketball and introduced myself to everyone. When my playing career ended, I got out my black book and starting making calls.” – Ujiri

1st Times Two: Ujiri is the first African-born general manager for a North American major league sports team … he is also the first general manager to yell “F— Brooklyn” during a fan rally prior to a playoff game between his Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets.

[bctt tweet=”Masai Ujiri is the 1st African born GM of any team in the 4 major US pro sports @Raptors”]

Daryl Morey – Houston Rockets

Hometown: Morey was born in Baraboo, Wisconsin but primarily raised in a small town outside of Medina, Ohio

College: Morey graduated from Northwestern with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and an emphasis on statistics. He later received his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he would later return as chairperson for the highly acclaimed MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference – the largest student run conference in the world.

First Job after Graduation: Morey’s introduction to the sports industry post-graduation wasn’t with a professional team, rather he worked as a Principal consultant for a strategy consulting firm, The Parthenon Group, and later as a statistical consultant with STATS, Inc.

Sports Career Path

  • Principal Consultant – The Parthenon Group
  • Statistical Consultant – STATS, Inc
  • Senior Vice President Operations and Information – Boston Celtics
  • Assistant General Manager – Houston Rockets
  • NBA General Manager – Rockets

Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley on Morey and the entire Sports Analytics Community: “All these guys who run these organizations who talk about analytics, they have one thing in common: They’re a bunch of guys who ain’t never played the game, they never got the girls in high school, and they just want to get in the game. I’ve always believed analytics is crap. I’ve never mentioned the Rockets as a legitimate contender, because they’re not. Listen, I wouldn’t know Daryl Morey if he walked in this room right now.”

In fairness, Morey did respond saying via Twitter that Barkley was, “spewing misinformed, biased vitriol disguised as entertainment.”

[bctt tweet=”Barkley on @HoustonRockets GM – I wouldn’t know @DMorey if he walked in this room right now #sportsbiz “]

Chris Wallace – Memphis Grizzlies

Hometown: Buckhannon, West Virginia

How to become an NBA general manager

Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace alongside one of his best signings, Zach Randolph

College: Wallace attended the University of Kansas but actually dropped out prior to graduating…twice. Recalls Wallace, “One day in class, I had an epiphany. Everyone was diligently taking notes and I said to myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ I was taking journalism classes but I knew I didn’t want to work in journalism. I said, ‘This is a farce.'”

First Job after Graduation Leaving: Wallace started up the basketball publication Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook from his parents’ house, where he lived for over a decade after leaving ‘Rock Chalk Jayhawk’ behind. You read that right, he lived with his parents from 22 years old until he was 32.

Niche magazine publishing doesn’t exactly make you rich, but it can get you noticed as many of his subscribers were NBA executives, including Jon Spoelstra of the Trailblazers who offered him his first job as a scout.

Sports Career Path:

  • Scout – Portland Trailblazers
  • Scout – Denver Nuggets
  • Scout – Miami Heat
  • Director of Player Personnel – Heat
  • NBA General Manager – Boston Celtics
  • General Manager, Vice President of Basketball Operations – Memphis Grizzlies

Read between the lines NBA: “Despite the fact that you may not see us frequently on National television, we like to think we have a pretty good team here and a team that will be a challenger in the Western Conference.” – Chris Wallace

It’s not all glamour: In 1992 the Miami Heat offered Wallace a job as a scout…for $25,000/year.

[bctt tweet=”Griz GM Chris Wallace lived at home publishing a college bball mag until he was 32 @memgrizz”]

Sam Hinkie – Philadelphia 76ers

Hometown: Hinkie was born in the Netherlands, but later moved to Easley, South Carolina when he was three.

College: Majored in Business Administration while attending the University of Oklahoma, where he was named one of the top 60 undergraduates in the county by USA Today. After that feat, he went on the Stanford Business School where he received his MBA.

First Job after Graduation: Between undergrad and his pursuit of a Masters, Hinkie jumped into the business world accepting a position with Bain & Company and later Bain Capital in Australia.

But, when he attended Stanford, he began to shift his focus towards the sports industry, advising the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans on draft strategies and statistical analysis, and working part-time for the Houston Rockets.

Sports Career Path:

  • Special Assistant to the General Manager – Houston Rockets
  • Vice President – Rockets
  • Executive Vice President – Rockets
  • NBA General Manager – Philadelphia 76ers

On Building a Champion: “We’re focused on how to put the building blocks in place that have a chance to compete in May. Those teams win in the high-50s. They don’t win in the teens and they don’t add two or three wins a year and they don’t add a win a month for a little while to try and get to where they’re going. They get all the way to the 50s. And they get there usually on the backs of great players.” – Sam Hinkie

[bctt tweet=”#Sixers GM Sam Hinkie was named one of the top 60 undergrads by @USAtoday while at @UofOklahoma”]

Ryan McDonough – Phoenix Suns

Hometown: Hingham, Massachusetts

how to become an NBA general manager

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough (right) alongside head coach Jeff Hornacek

College: McDonough graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. While at UNC, McDonough worked with several of the teams in the sports information office and even spent a summer calling games for the Double A Carolina Mudcats.

First Job after Graduation: McDonough interned with the Boston Red Sox while in college, but desired an NBA career path. He sent in his resume to the Boston Celtics, just as a new ownership group was taking over, and landed a job in the video room.

It was a humble beginning for the young man that would become one of the brightest young minds in the NBA, “”It wasn’t so much a room as just a collection of loose VHS tapes,” he says. “My job was, one, to get more tapes because there weren’t that many. Also organize and edit what we had in a more efficient manner.”

Sports Career Path:

  • Intern – Boston Red Sox
  • Special Assistant to Basketball Operations – Boston Celtics
  • Special Assistant, Video – Celtics
  • Director of Amateur Scouting – Celtics
  • Director of International Scouting – Celtics
  • Director of Player Personnel – Celtics
  • Assistant General Manager – Celtics
  • NBA General Manager – Phoenix Suns

All in the Family: McDonough’s father Will was a renowned sportswriter, best known for his work with the Boston Globe, his brother Sean is a highly-regarded play by play announcer for ESPN, and his other brother Terry is the Vice President of player personnel for the Arizona Cardinals.

[bctt tweet=”#Suns GM Ryan McDonough’s first job in sports was in baseball w/ the @RedSox #sportsbiz @suns”]

Neil Olshey – Portland Trailblazers

Hometown: New York

how to become an NBA general manager

Blazers GM Neil Olshey (left) has deftly maneuvered his roster and relationship with billionaire owner Paul Allen (right) (Photo courtesy: OregonLive.com)

College: Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York

First Job after Graduation: Olshey had stars in his eyes after graduating from Le Moyne, originally determined to become a professional actor, not an NBA executive. He appeared in television commercials, print advertisements and had roles on various soap operas.

Sports Career Path:

  • Director of Player Development – SFX Sports
  • Director of Player Development – Los Angeles Clippers
  • Assistant Coach – Clippers
  • Director of Player Personnel – Clippers
  • Assistant General Manager – Clippers
  • General Manager/Vice President of Basketball Operations – Clippers
  • NBA General Manager – Portland Trailblazers

Philosophical Approach: “It’s really important to create the best environment possible, so we can transition to a players-first culture. When these guys go out and they talk to guys or they tweet guys or they text guys or whatever, they can say, ‘Nobody takes better care of players than the Portland Trail Blazers. This is the best place I’ve been. They have the best resources, best environment, best building, best home crowd and everybody’s got our back up here.’

“That’s what players want to hear. And your players become your best recruiters. We’re creating the best basketball environment we can create, so this will become a top-tier basketball destination.” – Neil Olshey

John Hammond – Milwaukee Bucks

Hometown: Zion, Illinois

College: Hammond played Basketball while obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from Greenville College in Illinois

Sports Career Path:

  • High School Coach in Nebraska
  • Assistant Coach – University of Nebraska
  • Assistant Coach – Houston Baptist
  • Assistant Coach – Southwest Missouri State
  • Scout – Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Assistant Coach – Timberwolves
  • Assistant Coach – Los Angeles Clippers
  • Scouting Director – Detroit Pistons
  • Lead Assistant Coach – Pistons
  • Lead Assistant Coach – Clippers
  • Vice President, Basketball Operations – Detroit Pistons
  • NBA General Manager – Milwaukee Bucks

A Sense of Confidence:  “I am in a position in my life and professionally where I am secure in myself. I feel very fortunate about that, I have been around the league for so long. I know who I am and I know my abilities, so it is not about being concerned. You’re not looking over your shoulder, you’re just glad you have the opportunity. Obviously, you’d like to keep the opportunity, but I feel good about the chances I have.” – Hammond on his position as General Manager of the Bucks


If you are convinced that you need to go to the top school in the nation or else never stand a chance as an NBA general manager – you are mistaken. Le Moyne College, Friends University, Emerson College, Greenville University – these aren’t exactly the cream of the ivy league crop.

Although, much like baseball, there is a trend of new NBA general managers’s having a background in analytics more than coaching. Guys like Daryl Morey, Sam Presti, Sam Hinkie and Ryan McDonough didn’t make their marks on the sidelines, but rather in the spreadsheets.

The choice is yours how you will pursue your dreams – this is just a blueprint of actual success stories, not a singular mandate.

photo credit: center court via photopin (license)

Want to be an NBA General Manager? Here are 10 Potential Career Paths
Article Name
Want to be an NBA General Manager? Here are 10 Potential Career Paths
How can I become an NBA general manager? It's a question we hear often - so we decided to profile 10 potential career paths to get there
Publisher Name
Publisher Logo
About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

And if you want to know where our privacy policy is before you submit your comments below, it's right here.


  1. All well and good, but you know how they got to where they are? They got hired and worked their way up. If the point of this blog is to provide career advice, perhaps you should consider providing advice to the many grads who CAN’T get hired.

  2. I get the goal of this website is to get people to pay to have access to sports jobs, but let’s be honest: it’s all about who you know. This article and the one about the MLB GMs illustrates that perfectly.

    • Phil – thanks for reading, but I’m not sure I see your conclusion. Many of these people started as interns and worked their way up, much like the internships we have with pro teams on our site – while knowing people helps, how do you think you get to know people? By obtaining entry level jobs and internships… which we provide access to. See it all works together! – Brian

  3. Brian, Thanks for writing such great articles. I do agree with some of the comments above. Many of the people displayed above are in there late 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. How you get a job these days (Including Entry level where most of these GM’s started is much different these days). Here is a point of interest that might give us something to think about. If I walk into a professional NBA organization today. I’m going to be asked to hand my professional resume to the receptionist or I’m pointed in the direction of a professional on-line job board, where my resume goes from there is anyone’s best guess. However if I have a professional contact within the organization who can in-turn pass my resume along to the right people it will help validate my professional credentials within the company walls. Most if not all professional positions these days are never posted on professional websites, but more of a word-of-mouth / internal job posting within the professional organization. The biggest feedback that I get right now is that I’m overqualified for the position that I’m applying for. My conclusion wraps up to pretty much Phil and Dave’s point’s respectfully. It pays to Know People who are in professional roles and that ultimately is how you get your foot in the door. As a reader of your stuff, I would like to see more questions asked regarding “what is the hardest part of this profession, what advice would you give to people who are trying to break into this profession, what do you look for in employees who work in this profession along side of you.” I would love for your to do an article that piggybacks on this topic regarding possibly picking one-or-two readers who are trying to get into the NBA and what kind of success’s, setbacks they face when pursuing a professional job in this field. It would really bring more substance instead of just following some top level guy. With respect to your professional writing style, it really doesn’t give the current reader any defined resources to rate progress as it pertains to us the reader. I have personally been trying to get into the NFL or NBA for 5 years, I would be more than happy to volunteer my experiences with you in any way possible that it may help the reader. Please reach out to me if interested. Thank You and keep writing great articles.

    • Shane – thanks for reading and for the feedback. We have over 200 articles on the blog and I try to speak to different audiences with different needs with each piece I craft – I fully acknowledge not every article will hit the mark. The premise for this article was to provide insight and guidance for those who have lofty goals. For example, before I started this and other articles like it, I had no idea the collegiate choices many GM’s have made – in baseball, many have studied economics and statistics, that to me is incredibly valuable information for someone in your position. I’m not telling you what to do, I have no idea your situation, but if you were considering an advanced degree, maybe this info would sway you towards an MBA with an emphasis in econ? As for ‘it pays to know people’ I think if I wrote that article most people would say ‘well, duh’ – I believe strongly networking comes as a side benefit of hard work, internships and proving yourself wherever you can. In every one of my interviews I finish with ‘if someone came up to you and said I really want to work in [your field] what advice would you give them?” Thanks again for the feedback Shane – I’ll keep trying to improve our content! – Brian

  4. Eric Bryant says

    Brian, I hope this finds you well. Thank you for this article. I am currently a 3rd year law student with ambitions of working in sports. My goal is to become a NFL executive and make the transition to ownership, after I gain enough equity. It is great to see the career paths of executives in leadership positions today. I always get the question of “why did you choose to attend law school if you want to work in sports.” My answer to that question is, law school has given me several opportunities. First, I have a in depth understanding of how the law works and how to apply the law to specific circumstances. Secondly, I choose to attend a law school with connections to the sports world. For example, this upcoming semester, I have the opportunity to intern at a Sports Marketing Firm, where the leading associate has experience with both general manger roles and president roles in the NFL. In closing, I plan to soak up every experience at my upcoming internship and I am positive other doors will open along the way. Thanks again for your work.

    • Eric, I really like the idea of law school – there are many owners and executives who have a background in law. I would also argue, with contracts and negotiations – both with athletes and with local public offices for funding, permits etc. – the ability to understand the law and negotiate is a powerful asset. A law degree will help you think big picture in sports and visualize a few steps ahead of most others, which is an ability so many executives lack. Good plan – stick with it…and grant me an interview when you make it big… Brian

  5. Brian,
    I read your article multiple times and find it very interesting. I myself plan on being a Team Manager for a local D1 university, and basically have a spot waiting for me. I want to pursue a career in the NBA, starting from the bottom and hopefully someday working my way up to the coaching staff or even the management staff. If I were to pursue this career, what major would you believe would put me in the best position? I was thinking along the lines of Communications or Psychology, but your thoughts would mean a lot, thanks!

    – Jay

    • Jay – there are multiple paths, but to be a coach I would study statistics/analytics which would help you break down film and situations and then do as much as you can with your Team Manager gig. As for management – I would lean towards fstudying business/economics/marketing or a top Sports Management program — sports is a business to run a team takes that mentality. – Hope this helps, Brian

  6. This article was straight forward, easy to read, and informative. I enjoyed reading about the different paths these general managers took to get where they are today.

    • Thanks Grant!

    • what do you feel is the best way to become a gm without playing basketball in college?

    • Hey Carter – I’d say it’s 50-50 on GM’s having played basketball at an advanced level – guys like Daryl Morey, Sam Presti, Chris Wallace just to name a few, didn’t play college basketball. Many of them studied economics, statistics, computer science etc to know the business analytics side inside and out. I’d also recommend looking into one of our friends in the industry, Sports Management Worldwide – they have courses on becoming a basketball executive – good luck – Brian

    • Tayson Jenkins says

      Hi, I’m currently working as a team attendant for the Phoenix Suns, and I wish to pursue a career that will allow me to work in the business office of a NBA team. I’m about to head off to college (University of Kansas) and I was wondering what kind of degree would best help me pursue my career goals. I was thinking of getting a MBA or a degree in Sports Management, I am still not sure yet. I am going to apply/ try out to become a Men’s Basketball Student Manager under Bill Self. I believe this will allow me to learn the fundamental skills I will need to enhance my chances of making it in the Management/Business side of the NBA.

    • Tayson – you have a good plan! Definitely pursue volunteer and internship opportunities on campus – even outside of basketball – KU is a major school they have a lot of athletic programs and they are all run like a business! As for major, if you want to be on the business side and MBA or sports management degree makes the most sense, but consider taking some extra economics, statistics and accounting classes – all very important to running a team operation. Good luck! – Brian

  7. Hi, great article. I’m from Venezuela before i ask you a couple of questions, i want to apologize for My grammar mistakes. I’m currently in law school a year away from getting My degree. Muy dream is to be a NBA GM. I know is not going to be easy because I’m not an “american” but i will do work hard to get there. my question is this. What post gradúate degree should i go for? I’m want to get a post gradúate degree in the US but i don’t know which one would help me to reach My goal. I’m really struggling to find a realistic approach on this like. Which school should i go? What post gradúate degree to take? How much can My career as a lawyer help? (keeping in mind venezuelan laws Are not the same as the US) thanks for your time.

  8. Hi Bryan,
    My name I Tom, I’m 14, I’m from Australia. I’m excellent academically and sport wise. I play basketball a little competitively and a lot for fun and recreation. I found your article and it was exactly what I was looking for as my goal is to work in an NBA front office. What do you think would be the best path for me to take to reach this goal? What schools and courses do you think I should try to attend and take in the US.
    Cheers, Tom

    • The idea of the article was to show people how others have done it…. so, when you read the article, what did you glean from it? What do you think is the best method to achieve your goal of working in the NBA? These current GM’s laid a blueprint for you! Brian

  9. Thx 4 writing this up bro

  10. Hey Brian,

    A little late to your article but I still really enjoyed it. I’m going to be graduating the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in International Business and a minor in German May of 2018. I’ll have a 3.3 GPA, solid work experience and a large resume of campus involvement.

    I have a passion for the NBA (I’ve been watching since I was 5) and it’s a field that interests me but at the same time I recognize I’m not the most qualified in a direct sports sense even if my business resume is strong. What are some good entry level positions worth applying for, or internships to get my foot in the door where I can learn and develop. Ive seen a lot of entry level ticket sales positions, but I don’t necessarily want to be pigeon holed in a role like sales even if it’s something I’m not completely against. I want to be in the best position possible to move up.

    An off shoot though as well, I thought there might be a good fit for me somewhere with the NBA as well because of their continued presence overseas which I will have reputable qualifications in being a fluent German speaker etc.

    I’d genuinely appreciate some feedback! Let me know your thoughts.

  11. Hello Brian,

    I enjoyed reading this article. I would like to pose a question or two: What’s your advice for women who want to work in the Basketball Operations of the NBA (Player Development, Personnel, GM’s… etc)… specifically with NBA teams? Will there be any articles concerning the growth of women’s presence/involvement in NBA B-Ball Ops in the near future?

    • I’ve written a great deal on women in the sports industry, in fact I consider myself a bit of a pioneer on the subject as I have been pushing for more women in the sports industry for well over a decade. As for the specifics of women in basketball operations… not yet, maybe I’ll add that to my list of topics to tackle.

      Great suggestion. My first tip to you – take a scouting class, it all starts with player evaluation and skill identification. Sports Management Worldwide offers an online class on being a GM and Scout taught by some big names in the industry. Check them out. -Brian

  12. John Gabriel says

    I love to share my story if you care, which included, talk Art at Trinity high school, assistant coach at Kutztown University where I’ve played. JV coach at Trinity high school Harrisburg, part-time landscaper in Lancaster, worked graveyard shift at the front desk of the Mark Stevens Hotel in Hanover Pennsylvania on the weekends. followed my basketball career by moving to New Jersey while pursuing a job for the 76ers. Started a landscaping business of My own cutting lawns in south jersey. Work for my brother at night Atlantic City racetrack as a New Jersey racing official. The night ended about 11 PM when I went into video studio at the race track and wrote commercials free at the race track that they would run in-house on the monitors for giveaway items. This would end up being my demo tape for the Sixers. Finally got an interview with the Sixers, set up by administrative assistant who was 26 years old . went into the box office at $4 an hour in group sales. Became the video scout for the world championship 1983 76ers. Wrote and produced all the commercials and radio drop in for the 76ers for three years. Became the director of Scouting in 1984. Still doing all the above. In 1985 – 86 Hall of Famer Bill Cunningham retires Matt Goukes head coach names me assistant coach to the 76ers. In 1987 pat Williams moves to Orlando where I’ve become his first hire. We start the team together for two years before we opened in 1989. I stay till 2004 . That I worked three years for the Portland Trail Blazers, eight years for the New York Knicks, develop Parkinson’s, then hired in 2017 as an adviser for the Orlando Magic. Enjoyed your story John Gabriel/ by the way, Mark Heisler is my brother-in-law. And I ended up marrying that administrative assistant from the Sixers.

    • Jaxon Holmes says

      Hi Brian,

      I’m a 16 year old male from Western Australia currently in my second last year of High School, and it is my dream to persue a career in the NBA. I have played National level basketball myself and believe I have a high IQ and understanding of the game. I am planning to go to a school next year that has a basketball program and offers pathways to the areas of sports management. Australia doesn’t have the best opportunities for people like me (NBA fiends) and I am aware that a College in the US would be better suited. As graduation draws nearer, my anxiety about my future increases because I have NO IDEA what I need to study or what I need to do in order to reach my goal. I also know that the NBA is a long shot but even something like the NCAA or even a High School would do. All I know is Basketball is my passion and I want to do something with it. I just don’t know how. I would appreciate any help or advice Thank you.


    • I hope this is the real John Gabriel, if so, best of luck with your health. Hill and McGrady (…and almost duncan) should have brought you even more success in Orlando. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • john gabriel says

      This is JG. raising money for PD in central Florida.The PACF just gifted $250,000 to Fl. Hospital for new Parkinson initiatives.
      now we need to nail this years draft!
      stay well Brian


  1. […] found a website, http://www.workinsports.com/blog/want-to-be-an-nba-general-manager-here-are-10-potential-career-path… , that explains how each General manager for the nba started out. My goal to become a GM will […]

  2. Mens Franchise Club Kansas Jayhawks Coach

    […] working my way up to the coaching staff or even the management staff. If I were […]