Today is the 2018 NBA Draft. I love draft day, and have ever since I experienced it a couple times first hand. All of the hard work and anticipation builds up and the athletes’ lives are changed forever.
I had the privilege of participating in the 2006 NBA Draft as an intern with the Chicago Bulls, followed by the 2007 NBA Draft as an intern with Priority Sports. Both are experiences I will never forget.
A lot goes on behind the scenes in the days, weeks and months leading up to the draft. I learned a lot more than I expected to learn about the inner-workings of the sports industry and have so much respect for the professionals that continue to pull off this process each and every year.
The NBA Draft through the lens of a Chicago Bulls Strength and Conditioning Intern
The Summer of 2006 was a busy time for the Chicago Bulls organization. Going into the 2006 draft, the Bulls had the 2nd and 16th picks. This meant all of the top collegiate and international talent would be coming through the doors of the Berto Center for draft testing and interviews.
As a strength and conditioning intern, I was highly involved with the physical testing of each prospective player. It was all hands on deck, as the head strength coach and athletic trainer led us through the motions.
- We tested each player’s strength, agility, speed and flexibility, as well as measured their height, weight, standing reach, wingspan and hand size.
- We watched each player perform various drills on the court and scrimmage other talent also in town for their draft tryouts.
- We performed and recorded character interviews with the players’ collegiate coaching staff.
- And we aggregated, analyzed, ranked and organized player data into a comprehensive binder that was shared with the front office staff.
All of this occurred in the few weeks leading up to the draft. It was like a rotating door of top collegiate and international basketball talent. Never a moment of down time and always something to roll up your sleeves and learn.
I spent 13 hours at the Berto Center (the Bulls training facility) on Draft Day. It was a long day, but full of excitement.
The day started with media set up on the practice courts, and ended with interviews. The hours in between consisted of a whole lot of phone calls, negotiations and trades as the Bulls made their 2006 NBA Draft selections.
For those of you that are NBA fans, here’s how the draft played out for Chicago that summer:
- Bulls selected LaMarcus Aldridge (University of Texas) as the 2nd overall pick.
- To keep things interesting, they then turned around and traded Aldridge and a future second round draft choice to Portland in exchange for Tyrus Thomas (4th overall pick out of LSU) and contract rights of Viktor Khryapa.
- Bulls selected Rodney Carney (Memphis) with the 16th pick.
- Then again the Bulls made a trade. This time with Philadelphia for their 13th pick, Thabo Sefolosha (Italian club player out of Switzerland), in exchange for Carney, a 2007 second round pick and cash.
The NBA Draft through the lens of a sports agency intern with Priority Sports
A year later, in the summer of 2007, I found myself on the other side of the negotiation table. Instead of watching the Chicago Bulls GM, John Paxson, make phone calls across the NBA, I witnessed the sports agents of Priority Sports working the best deals for their clients.
Priority Sports represented a handful of athletes in the 2007 NBA Draft. In the weeks leading up to the draft, the Basketball Operations team was in full swing managing both collegiate and international talent and prepping them for what was to come.
As an intern with Priority Sports, I was involved with a variety of NBA Draft tasks. Basketball Operations, Client Services, Marketing, Legal, Finance and of course the agents themselves, all teamed together.
- We compiled stat analysis and game highlights and put together client folders.
- We coordinated logistics for client tryouts amongst the NBA teams.
- We connected with media outlets to prep draft coverage for our clients.
- We started gearing up for sponsorship deals with apparel companies.
- And we took care of the clients and their families to ensure everyone had an exceptional draft experience.
It was fascinating to be on the other side, after experiencing the draft action from the team’s perspective just one year prior. And to take it full circle, I even got to coordinate some Priority Sports client tryouts with the Chicago Bulls.
Then Draft Day came and the agents hit the phones hard. Negotiating multiple deals in one day is no small feat.
And while the agents were hard at work, the rest of us watched the draft from the main conference room — Keeping score on our mock draft results and celebrating our clients’ success.
Those two summers working behind the scenes of the NBA Draft taught me many lessons and opened my eyes to the various opportunities out there in the world of sports. The experiences shaped me and were a big part of My Intern Hustle journey.
So here’s to the 2018 NBA Draft class, and to all of those working tirelessly behind the scenes to pull it all off! As with any industry, there are a lot of details you aren’t aware of that work to ensure the final product is a success.
If you’re looking to break into the sports industry, I encourage you to broaden the list of roles you may be interested in. So many people, working together, keep things running for us sports fans to enjoy. Get your foot in the door first, gain some experience, observe what is going on around you, and then decide what path you want to take from there. Good luck and have fun!