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Aldridge: Silver to name Tatum as deputy commissioner

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Jan 28, 2014 2:19 PM

Making clear his intention to emphasize business development as he ascends to the NBA's top job this weekend, deputy commissioner Adam Silver will recommend that Mark Tatum, the league's Executive Vice President of Global Marketing Partnership, succeed him as NBA deputy commissioner, according to several sources.

Tatum has been with the NBA since 1999, and is responsible for overseeing the marketing deals for the NBA, WNBA, NBA Development League and USA Basketball. He is the league's chief point person with some of its longest-standing sponsors, including Coke, Nike and Gatorade, and has forged new relationship with companies like Diageo, which became the NBA's official spirits sponsor this season.

Tatum also brought in corporations like Cisco and SAP that now have working relationships with the league, such as Cisco's TelePresence being used throughout NBA arenas.

Tatum is also responsible for the NBA's sales of its media-affiliated groups, including NBA TV and NBA.com, as well as with its sales with media partners ESPN/ABC and TNT.

African-American and Vietnamese, Tatum will become the highest ranking executive of color in a professional sports league. He played baseball at Cornell, where he received his undergraduate degree, and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He worked for Major League Baseball, Clorox, Pepsi and Proctor and Gamble before coming to the NBA.

The NBA's Board of Governors will have to approve Tatum, but that is expected to be a mere formality. Even though a formal meeting isn't scheduled until April, Silver can have a vote taken electronically to approve Tatum at any time after he takes office.

Silver will succeed David Stern as Commissioner on Feb. 1, and his choice for deputy commissioner was viewed as an indication of his priorities as he takes the job. With many, though hardly all, of the league's major issues resolved or in the process of being resolved, the major challenge moving forward is growing the economic pie. Hiring Tatum, with his extensive background in sales and marketing, is a clue as to what Silver is looking for.

Tatum's background with promoting the league's international growth and expanding brands makes him a natural to take an even bigger role as the NBA seeks to find new revenue streams to its $5.5 billion annual business.

"It's smart of Adam not picking from the usual suspects," a league source said. "He already has great relationship with all of the sponsors."

Yahoo! Sports first reported Tatum's likely ascension to the position.

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