As the Golden State Warriors get ready to battle the Cleveland Cavaliers for what promises to be an epic encounter for the NBA Championship, preparations are already in motion for NBA Summer League 2015, which will be held for the 11th year in Las Vegas, from July 10-20, at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus.
And while some of the most promising young stars in the NBA will be competing in Las Vegas -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Draymond Green have all seen recent Summer League action -- a coinciding, comprehensive program designed to prepare those interested in front office NBA careers will debut this summer in Las Vegas as well.
The "Front Office Combine" -- founded by Warren LeGarie (the Summer League's Executive Director) and Albert Hall (the Summer League's Vice President of Business Operations) -- will provide educational and immersive programs July 10-14, in the context (and at the same location) as the ever-growing Summer League season. The Combine will provide a rare and unparalleled opportunity for anyone seeking a career in professional sports, but in the particular the NBA.
There are essentially four areas of entry-level positions with any front office in a professional sport franchise: Two revolve around ticket sales and sponsor sales; the third focuses on public relations and the expanding field of social media; and the fourth on scouting and analytics. The Combine will feature curriculum in all four areas, with a practicum directly related to the Summer League activities.
There will also be training provided for all participants on designing an "elevator pitch," networking and resume writing.
"We had seen several programs spring up around the Summer League over the years, but most of them were the typical two-day, learn-how-to-be-something programs that had little lasting value for the participants," said co-founder LeGarie. "It dawned on us that there was a need for this type of program within the confines of the Summer League -- but only if done comprehensively and in a manner that really provided value to young persons with their sports employment possibilities."
In addition to LeGarie and Hall, the program boasts an all-star lineup of sports business executives as teachers and presenters, including several leading coaches and General Managers. ESPN's Sage Steele, Kirk Goldsberry and Kevin Arnovitz, the Pac-12's Rob Sine, broadcaster Mike Breen, along with executives from Turner Sports and DreamWorks will add to an already robust lineup.
LeGarie and Hall are hoping that the Combine will ride the wave of the NBA's growth and expansion. "The Summer League has become a combination laboratory/festival for the NBA," said LeGarie. "In a real sense, we are providing R&D testing for the NBA across all kinds of platforms including technology and game operations. But it is also a celebratory atmosphere -- and opportunity for fans to watch the stars of the future in a fun, vibrant, up-close environment." The Combine will now provide an exciting new dimension to the mix.
"The Vegas Summer League provides one of the most target-rich environments for networking and a truly authentic behind the scenes experience," said the Combine's PR and Social Media Division Head Gina Antoniello, who will also be developing the PR curriculum at the five-day event.
The Combine promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience. "We want to provide learning and training in the areas most important to securing a career in sports," said LeGarie.
Geoffrey Dunn is the author of Sports of Santa Cruz County (Arcadia Press) and has won awards for sports writing from the National Newspaper Association and the California Newspaper Publishers Association.