Sports Management Worldwide Basketball Conference Review

Sports Management WorldwideThis review was updated on June 4, 2014.

I discovered Sports Management Worldwide back in 2010.

I came across their web site while exploring ways I could work in basketball.

Like millions of other people out there, I wanted to work in sports, but I didn't know how to get started.

Sports Management Worldwide seemed like they could help me, so I booked a ticket to their career conference at the 2010 NBA Summer League.

Sports Management Worldwide Basketball Conference

That conference was a wonderful experience. I heard from speakers who included NBA general managers Neil Olshey and David Kahn.

I made some great friends at the conference,particularly my dear friend Josh Url, who now works as an Operations Manager for Synergy Sports Technology.

That conference and the two classes I took at Sports Management Worldwide have been invaluable to me in breaking into the industry.

Because the NBA lockout resulted in the cancellation of the 2011 conference, I circled the date for the 2012 conference on my calendar long ago.

Friday night at the 2012 Sports Management Worldwide basketball conference tipped off with a meet-and-greet session.

With over 100 people in attendance at the Thomas & Mack Center room, there were plenty of wonderful people to connect with.

This year's Sports Management Worldwide conference attendees included high school and college basketball coaches, college students, and people working in other fields.

Saturday morning began with some prominent media speakers. Brian Wheeler, the now-svelte play-by-play announcer for the Portland Trail Blazers, and ESPN Truehoop's Kevin Arnovitz got things started by telling their stories.

As a fellow writer and entrepreneur, Arnovitz's story resonated with me.

He started for fun a few years ago, and has since gone on to write for ESPN Truehoop and Slate, among others.

I used to believe you need to have everything planned out if you wanted to do something bold like working in sports.

But now, I'm pretty sure thoughts like that only exist to try to stop us from taking action.

Plans are helpful, but feeling like you need to plan everything is paralyzing.

It's refreshing to hear a story like Kevin's because it shows us that doing what feels fun can often catapult you to unexpected heights.

The Basketball Operations panel, boasting the Portland Trail Blazers' Chad Buchanan and Michael Born, featured some good insights.

Both of them worked in college basketball and the ABA prior to landing with the Blazers. Their journey too illustrates the difficulty of predicting your career trajectory from where you start.

The morning's last speaker, Mark Warkentien, stole the show for me.

Warkentien, who won the NBA Executive of the Year Award in 2009 as GM of the Nuggets, works as Director of Player Personnel for the Knicks now.

I've been to many business, marketing, and personal development workshops and seminars over the last few years.

Armed with an easel and an array of notes, Warkentien gave a presentation to rival any seminar out there.

He also gave the attendees some reading assignments: Jim Collins' legendary Good to Great and the underrated The 1% Solution by Tom Connellan.

Warkentien encouraged the audience to always work hard to improve themselves, even if it's just a little bit at a time. He stressed the importance of differentiating yourself from the rest of the millions of job seekers in the sports industry.

I loved hearing these lessons, which I internalized from my entrepreneurial ventures, carry over to the basketball world. And a little bit more validation never hurts.

After lunch, we heard from Los Angeles Clippers video coordinator Raman Sposato and XOS Digital's Blaine Patterson.

Sports Management Worldwide Digital Video Editing Course

If you ask someone who works in basketball how to break into the industry, there's a good chance they'll tell you that the video room is the way to go. Hey, it was good enough for Erik Spoelstra!

It can appear to be a catch-22 position. After all, how are you supposed to get video experience before getting the job?

There are ways.

Sports Management Worldwide offers a Digital Video Editing course. That class teaches you how to use Synergy Sports Technology, which the vast majority of NBA teams and Division I universities use.

If you have a college in your area, see if you can shadow their video person for a couple days.

Mirroring some of the morning's speakers, Sposato and Patterson had circuitous paths to get to where they are in the field. The humble Sposato pointed out how working in the video room has deepened his understanding of the game.

The Sports Management Worldwide Scouting panel featured some of the best minds in basketball, including Frank Burlison, former Warriors GM Ed Gregory, and Sacramento Kings Director of Scouting Scotty Stirling. International scouts Carl Berman and Chris Denker from NetScouts were also on the panel.

The chorus was this advice: just get started.

Scout some games in your area and write up reports.

Share them with people who know the game and get feedback.


Keep doing it.

I echo that suggestion.

Countless people have asked me this summer how to get started as a scout.

The best way is to just start doing it.

(On a side note, I am developing some material to expand on that last point and help people get started in scouting. Stay tuned for that.)

The conference wrapped up with Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman, who spoke about his journey.

Like the other Sports Management Worldwide speakers I mentioned, Forman didn't set out to become the NBA general manager he eventually became.

Hearing from several speakers that they didn't start their journey with a master plan was my biggest takeaway from the conference.

So that's the message.

You don't need to have everything figured out to get started.

Don't wait.

Just get going.

Do something.

If you'd like to hear more from me on this topic, sign up for the free email list at, where I share techniques and strategies I've used successfully in my basketball career.