Behind the Scenes: The 10 Most Important People in the NBA You've Never Heard Of
The NBA has many important people who run it. If it wasn't for them, the league certainly wouldn't be as stable or as popular as it is today. Fortunately, they've done a great job marketing it and making it competitive.
While most basketball fans know about Adam Silver, Pat Riley, Danny Ainge, and other prominent figures, there are also many important people in the NBA fans have never heard of.
From general managers to the league's office, many of these people have played major roles in the league's development.
#1 - Jeff Schwartz
Jeff Schwartz is one of the biggest basketball agents in the world. However, he keeps a relatively low profile and isn't as popular as many other agents, such as Rich Paul.
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Schwartz, founder and president of Excel Sports Management, has negotiated more than $2.1 billion in NBA contracts. He currently represents 35 players, including 11 All-Stars and three players on maximum contracts.
#2 - Andy Elisburg
The Miami Heat have been one of the most competitive teams over the last decade. They have a strong culture and are all about winning, which is something most NBA fans contribute to Pat Riley's presence.
While Riley is incredible, Andy Elisburg, the Heat's general manager, deserves a lot of credit. He's been with the team since they were founded in 1988 and was promoted to his current position in 2013.
#3 - Warren LeGarie
Warren LeGarie is another veteran agent who's been affiliated with the NBA for the last two decades. While he's a savvy businessman, LeGarie gets a lot of credit for starting the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
The businessman pitched the idea to David Stern, the late NBA commissioner, in 2004, and he was approved. Ever since then, the basketball league has been an important part of the development and showcase of young prospects.
#4 - Joel Litvin
Joel Litvin was the league's president for 27 years. He served in this position from 1988 to 2015 and was involved in many important decisions that happened during this period.
Litvin deserves a lot of credit for the current revenue-share system in the league. He was also involved in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations and in training and evaluating game officials.
#5 - Joe Dumars
Many Detroit Pistons fans have heard of Joe Dumars. Not only was he a player who won two championships with the team, but he was also their president for 15 years.
Since 2022, Dumars has been the vice president and head of basketball operations for the NBA. His main duties include the enforcement of playing rules and discipline of players, including suspensions and bans.
#6 - Mark Tatum
While many fans have heard of Adam Silver, a lot of them have no idea who Mark Tatum is. However, this man is arguably the second most important person in the entire league.
Tatum is the deputy commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the league. He is responsible for the NBA's business operations, including leading the league’s expansion and marketing to international markets.
#7 - Tex Winter
Tex Winter is an innovator of the triangle offense, an offensive strategy frequently used by Phil Jackson. Winter was an assistant coach under Jackson for both the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers.
Winter's system was so good that it earned him nine championships. Not only that, but both the Bulls and Lakers achieved a three-peat during their championship runs. Jackson won two more rings with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
#8 - William Wesley
William Wesley, nicknamed "World Wide Wes," is considered one of the most influential people in basketball. Wesley has a lot of friends in high places, from Ron Artest to LeBron James.
Some fans believe that he was partially responsible for LeBron's "The Decision" back in 2010 and that he's pulling many strings. Wesley has served as an executive vice president for the New York Knicks since 2020.
#9 - Trent Tucker
Trent Tucker isn't the name many basketball fans are familiar with. He spent 11 years in the NBA, playing for three different teams and averaging 8.2 points per game. However, Tucker's tenure with the Knicks was a reason for a major rule change in the league.
With 0.1 seconds left in the game against the Chicago Bulls, Tucker hit a game-winning three-pointer. Due to this, the league came up with the so-called Trent Tucker rule, which disallows a regular shot to be taken with under 0.3 seconds left in the game. Instead, players have to go for a tip shot.
#10 - Kevin Harlan
Many hardcore NBA fans are familiar with Kevin Harlan, a TNT announcer. Presentation of basketball games is very important, and that's where Harlan shines. A lot of fans have heard his voice and his iconic calls, but are not familiar with his name.
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Harlan's calls are emphatic and enthusiastic. Not only does he get very excited while watching games, but he also finds perfect words to describe amazing plays.