Great players and franchises in the NBA only get that way because of one person: the general manager.
In order to become a general manager for your favorite NBA team, you’re going to need some experience. Having a degree in Sports Management is helpful in landing your job, but experience on the court is very crucial. Many of the greatest head coaches of all time got their start playing basketball in the NBA or in college.
Being a GM, however, is very difficult. With only 30 teams in the NBA, it’ll take years before a job opens up; the average GM lasts around five or nine years.
So what exactly does the general manager do? The job is pretty complicated and the day-to-day is a grind like no other. Let’s take a closer look.
General managers have to deal with all of the financial operations of the team. When it comes to hiring new talent on and off the court, they’re the ones in charge of making moves. This means days of nonstop phone calls and emails.
One of the biggest duties comes during the NBA Draft. Depending on where their team lands, choosing a player is very crucial. Their pick can be a major franchise player or they can be a monumental dud.
“You know that player has that ability to turn your team into basically a championship-caliber team in a matter of a few years,” Orlando Magic GM John Hammond stated in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
Gotta Get Out And Promote
Po1 Chad J. Mcneeley, Usn
While they normally allow the big stars go out to do press, most general managers tend to step out in public every now and then. Whether it’s with a franchise player or by themselves, promotion is very important for the franchise. Luckily, many GMs have no issue with showing their faces at dinners or special basketball events. Well, the ones that don’t seem to have a harder time gaining trust from the fans and press.
One of the hardest things to do as a general manager is firing someone on your team. The guilt you feel when they walk into the office is intense, and watching them as you break the news can be a bit heartbreaking.
On The Court
Some general managers expand their reach beyond the office with an additional role as head coach. In 1996, San Antonio Spurs GM Gregg Popovich took over the role of head coach after firing Bob Hill after a rough 3–15 start. In his reign as head coach, he lead the Spurs to 20 consecutive winning seasons and five NBA Championship victories. Before him, Boston Celtics icon Red Auerbach and Miami Heat legend Pat Riley also pulled double duty with tremendous results.
This kind of hybrid is very rare in the league, though. Many GMs don’t want to add any more duties to their massive workload. Currently, Doc Rivers (Los Angeles Clippers) and Stan Van Gundy (Detroit Pistons) are the only ones aside from Popovich that are juggling between these two positions. As time goes on, you can expect more GMs to add “head coach” to their name.