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National Basketball Association General Managers: An Analysis of the Responsibilities, Qualifications and Characteristics


Glenn M Wong


University of Massachusetts at Amherst - Isenberg School of Management

Chris Deubert


Harvard Law School - Football Players Health Study

December 4, 2010

Villanova Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 18, 2011

Abstract:     
Being General Manager (GM) of a professional sports team remains one of the most desirable jobs in all of sports. The ability to control an organization and the possibility of leading it to a championship often makes the endless hours, duties, difficulties and lack of job security worth it. Not surprisingly then, there are people from all walks of life who work to obtain a GM position. In our article Major League Baseball General Managers: An Analysis of Their Responsibilities, Qualifications and Characteristics, we discussed the role of a Major League Baseball (MLB) GM in running an organization while examining the evolving paths people have taken to obtain the GM position.

In MLB there has been a clear trend emphasizing younger, highly educated people with a statistical analysis approach and putting less emphasis on playing or coaching experience. Presently, the standard bearer for statistical analysis in the NBA is Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey. Morey, who did not play basketball in college, graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in computer science and went on to earn his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Many people believe that GMs who emphasize statistical analysis will become increasingly prevalent in the NBA: it remains to be seen whether they proliferate as much as they have in MLB. As a result of that proliferation, the characteristics and qualifications of MLB GMs changed fairly substantially from 1989 to 2009. In contrast, the characteristics and qualifications of NBA GMs have not seen any major changes over the same period of time.

The first part of this article will discuss the many duties of an NBA GM and how they may have changed over time. Next, the article will examine the characteristics of NBA GMs and how they may have changed, including their playing experience, coaching experience, age, education, race and career paths. Finally, the article will conclude by discussing the most common paths to the NBA GM position, with an eye towards how these paths might change in the future.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 44

Keywords: NBA, NBPA, CBA, Collective Bargaining Agreement, GM, General Manager, Morey, Salary Cap

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Date posted: December 5, 2010 ; Last revised: November 12, 2011

Suggested Citation

Wong, Glenn M and Deubert, Chris, National Basketball Association General Managers: An Analysis of the Responsibilities, Qualifications and Characteristics (December 4, 2010). Villanova Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 18, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1720070

Contact Information

Glenn M Wong
University of Massachusetts at Amherst - Isenberg School of Management ( email )
Amherst, MA 01003-4910
United States
Chris Deubert (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School - Football Players Health Study
23 Everett St.
3rd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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