If not THE most often asked question I get when people connect with me its one of the top two questions no doubt if its not something else. As a former analyst and currently as a special adviser I have learned hard lessons having worked in the ranks of the NBA here is my take on what it takes to get that elusive job.
As a side note for those followers from Europe, its even much more of a struggle to get noticed due to the immense work that you would have to put in solely for the fact that the pace of the NBA and understanding is that much more fast and changing. Again as long as that does not deter you from your dream, go for it!
My first days in Sacramento way back when the team was in a literal slump was still so amazing and exciting to me it was beyond belief. Having been a remote full time analyst and working with an NBA team and communicating with the video guys as well as the first generation analytics guys back than was by far thrilling. I had just completed rounds and rounds of interviewing and had been through the ringer to get this amazing position and just a few months in was invited to visit the Kings practice facilities as the team. The draft had come and gone already and it took me only a few weeks to get familiar with how things were running and what I needed to do on a daily basis. I was still getting introduction emails by the end of my first three months and every now and than a question that would pop up would baffle me for the fact that it came from a name that I only had dreamt of communicating with.
One instance I never will forget I had with coach Dunn happened as follows, during my trip while being introduced to the coaching staff coach Dunn approached me and said “there is the Euro-star that’s’ gonna get us the next big ticket to build on”… I was so gobsmacked that I could not respond back for about a minute than composed myself and said “Coach, thanks for the vote of confidence. I’ll sure do my best for the team.” All of a sudden right behind me towering over me appeared David Blu (whom I later re-connected with during his Maccabi Tel Aviv days). He said, “if this guy is all that they say he is… than the club is lucky to have him…”
All in all I was left with such an impression by not just the coaching staff but by the players too that they took their time to get to know you even before they’d meet you and they were good in doing their homework.
I knew that most of the personnel usually would get a job based on the impression they’d leave on a GM or assistant GM or some executive they’d meet and that is one major key to sticking around the league.
So bareing the above in mind, consider this harsh reality. There are only 30 NBA teams. All teams have a video staff and assistant coaching staff. There also are almost one or a few analysts or at best a 4 man analytics team. Do the numbers become clearer to those of you that are intending on finding a way in?
The last few years more and more teams have been utilizing working with remote staff not on the payroll really or with interns that can gain experience on the job as remote staffers.
We all know of the stories of (Eric) Spoelstra and (Kaleb) Canales and how relentless they had been in pursuing their dream steming form the video room. Well that is one end of the spectrum but relentless communication and sending in analysis and reports to staff is definitely one impression that leaves those that can infulance and recommend you to jobs that are paid.
A final point is; how well you’d be naturally known for work that you’d post online (I know it sounds nuts but its factual), create your own (blog) site or take part in or guest post on sites, we have had some good responses from NBA executives as well as people around the league that have pull and that can get you to where you would like to be.
From the days, where I interned working for those that are still a major part of APBR to the days where I have been consulting now in Europe, my journey has been a roller coaster of a ride so far and I will be open about one thing. Working in the NBA is not for everyone. It might sound like a dream job to some and to most it might even seem prestigious however it’s a day in day out struggle to keep a normal pace. The order is that much more of chaos on a daily basis and reshuffling things around.
To ramp things up bare the following in mind always:
- Each path is unique and there is no one way to make it
- If you distinguish yourself they will see
- Do your best to jam your foot in the door
- Do the job even before you get it and it will be that much more for you