The Benefits of SMWW's Basketball Career Conference

The Benefits of SMWW's Basketball Career Conference
July 17, 2023 by Dave Sauriol


The Sports Management Worldwide 2023 Basketball Career Conference began with a reception meet and greet at the Hilton Embassy Suites, just a 10-minute walk from the Thomas and Mack Center Summer League games. The energy was palpable as students talked with former long-standing NBA GM Rick Sund and basket analytics pioneer Dean Oliver, amongst others... 

The buzz around the reception was about the French phenom Victor Wembanyaya. Many attendees had just seen him just before the reception battling for a rebound, tipping it to himself with arms so long Mister Fantastic would be jealous. The third tip was the charm. Boom!... he made it into an alley-oop to himself!

All attendees had an experience that mirrored life in the NBA with the conference held at the luxurious Four Seasons Las Vegas Conference Room, where six NBA teams were staying. Whatever your interest in professional basketball, there was something for everyone. Panel topics have been curated over the years to appeal to all the various aptitudes of conference attendees, beginning with Brett Kanis, Joel Corry, and Yann Balikouzou discussing being professional sports agents both stateside and around the globe. 

The crown jewel of the conference was next, CEO of the San Antonio Spurs RC Buford. RC demanded everyone's attention as he discussed what gives the Spurs their advantage. As if speaking of a parable for the next generation of sports executives, RC talked about coach Popovich's only motivational message in the Spurs locker room:  

"Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow, it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before."

This message embodies the SMWW student and the experiences you can have at an SMWW basketball career conference or in a basketball-related course. Will you start hitting the stone and make your dream a reality? 

Next were two NBA general managers, the previously mentioned Rick Sund and Larry Reily (the general manager that selected two of the greatest shooters of all time, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) of the Golden State Warriors. The following panel had former NBA coach and player development guru Irv Roland and Anthony McClish, the G League Ignite general manager, discussing finding diamonds in the rough and maximizing their potential. Next, the Money Ball man of the NBA analytics pioneer Dean Oliver spoke about the evolving usage of numbers to evaluate basketball. 

Sports media became the theme during lunch and in the next panel. Attendees learned from NBA veteran reporters Dei Lynam and Amin Elhassan and, on the other side of the spectrum, veteran NBA communications and PR man Michael Preston of the Indiana Pacers. 

Lastly, a group of diverse young basketball professionals, Zoe Vernon of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Khalia Collier of the Dallas Mavericks, and Isaiah Covington of the Boston Celtics, spoke. These three under-thirty-year-olds were a fitting end to a great conference, portraying how it is possible to break into the NBA with creativity, hard work, and good timing. 

During each panel, attendees were invited to ask questions. Afterward, panelists took the time to speak to the next generation of basketball professionals individually. If your dream is the NBA, seeing the routes you can take to get in, hearing how others have done it, and talking to them is invaluable!  

Have you got next? See you in Vegas next year!