Pacers meet with successful execs in “Business of Basketball” seminar
In the midst of their season, Pacers players spent a few hours Monday afternoon learning about the business of basketball. At Finish Line’s headquarters, Indiana’s 15 players listened to six different executives on two panel discussions.
“I thought it went well,” said Pacers Vice President of Player Relations Clark Kellogg. “The panelists were a diverse group of sponsors and partners with the Pacers. It was good for the guys to hear from them some of the things that are important in their partnerships with athletes and with teams.”
The NBA requires its players to participate in one business of basketball, anti-gambling training and media training session each year, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Last year, the players went behind the scenes at WTHR, the local NBC affiliate. There wasn’t a session during the lockout season, but the year before that they were tasked with an in-house discovery, where they learned about what various departments at Pacers Sports & Entertainment do.
The panelists in Monday’s annual session:
Jennifer Newby – Director of Marketing at IMCU,
John Schnatter – CEO of Papa John’s,
Mike Klipsch – President of Global Operations at Klipsch Group, Inc.,
Glenn Lyon – CEO of Finish Line,
Brandon Gayle – Facebook and Instagram Vice President,
Michael Yost – IU Health VP of Corp. Partnerships & Events
The first discussion centered on what attributes sponsors seek in players, what the relationship is like between players and sponsors, and how a player goes about building and enhancing his own brand.
“It was good to hear some of the things that we’ve talked to our players about — character, passion, community involvement, reputation — and how all that plays a part,” said Kellogg.
One interactive exercise they went through was looking at slides of prominent shoes going back to the 1970s. It was their task of deciding whose it was.
“We tried to give a few clues about the shoes’ endorsers and they guessed a lot of them within two shot clocks,” Kellogg said.
In the second discussion, Gayle of Facebook and Instagram led a social media panel on opportunities it brings, connecting with fans and image versus reality. More to that, those two companies had representatives then work with the players on Tuesday to setup and streamline their fan pages.
“I learned a lot,” said veteran Rasual Butler. “It was cool to sit down with some of those executives and get their opinion on how we should present ourselves. It was really informative, and I made some good connections.”
The last thing Butler said, “made some good connections,” is important, too. They had face-to-face interaction with some key business leaders not just in the state but nationally. Schnatter, Mr. Papa John’s himself, cleared his schedule and flew to Indy to help out. Like it or not, NBA players are celebrities and can work to leverage their visibility to make good for themselves and the local community.