Reed Interview, Part III: What to Expect When You're Developing
When the 2011-12 NBA Development season tipped off last November, it did so under a cloud of questions.
The NBA, mired in a lockout since July, still hadn't signed its new CBA and the season looked just days away from cancellation, after meetings between owners and players ran far into the night before crumbling time and time again. Even without the NBA season, the NBA D-League would still run, but without its main source of value -- cultivating prospects and developing players already in the NBA -- it would do so in a vacuum.
Then came the CBA. And a Christmas start, followed by a four-month, 66-game schedule that moved faster than college. And as a condensed season wore down rosters, the NBA D-League answered its call, turning out a record number of NBA Call-Ups and Assignments over the course of the year and proving itself to be, more than ever, the premier league for Prospects looking to break into the game's highest stage.
With Summer League just a few weeks away -- and with it, a chance to see Top Prospects compete against NBA players -- NBADLeague.com's Kevin Scheitrum sat down with league president Dan Reed in a three-part interview to talk about where the league's been in his five years at the helm and, more importantly, where it's headed. See below for Part III, and click here for Wednesday's Part I or Thursday's Part II!
NBADLeague.com: Jeremy Lin’s gonna be spending part of the summer running camps in China. You just had had a contingent go over to China, too. How encouraging was that, to see L.D., T.J. and Moses go over to Guangzhou?
Reed: We take a lot of pride in finding opportunities for our players, no matter what they may be. Of course we want players to go up to the NBA, we work the phones very hard to do that, and if that doesn’t happen for some reason then we still try to find them opportunities to continue to grow their profile and continue to beat down that NBA door. In some cases it may be the Elite Mini Camp, where we have over 40 of our Top Prospects who didn’t get called up have an exclusive workout in front of NBA decision-makers, or it may be helping to find an international opportunities for players like L.D., T.J. and Moses to make a little money, have a little fun and connect with NBA decision-makers.
We’ll be fielding a Summer League team for the third consecutive year, our NBA D-League Select team. Another opportunity exclusively for players who played in our league to showcase themselves on the biggest stage in the NBA and get a lot more minutes than they might on another team.
We’re always looking to do things like that, to give our players – players who chose to play with us – the exposure and the opportunities that they deserve.
NBADLeague.com: How especially big is Summer League this year, given that there was no Summer League last year, so a lot of the guys who found their way to the NBA D-League didn’t have a chance to play against NBA talent for a while, and now they’ve spent a season playing against other NBA D-Leaguers but finally get a chance to show what they can do against NBA teams?
Reed: Summer League’s always important. I think this year, yeah, it’ll be just as important as it’s ever been, and because we had such a successful year on the court nad so many players distinguished themselves in our league, maybe this will be the extra oomph to get that Training Camp invite. Competition’s tough, but if you put your best foot forward, you never know what’s gonna happen.
NBADLeague.com: Any big initiatives going into the 2012-13 season?
Reed: We’re looking to continue the momentum we’ve been building. We’re in conversations with a number of people about continuing to make it easier for fans to fllow our league, whether it’s on national TV, regional TV, digital platforms or mobile. We should have some exciting announcements coming out later in the summer, maybe in the fall, about additional ways fans can check us out.
We’re always working on new rules, new innovations we can try. There are several we’re in discussions about now that we’re not quite ready to talk about, but going forward, we’ll certainly have some unique initiatives planned for next year.
Otherwise, the business is about going out and engaging with fans. Our teams are out selling tickets, selling sponsorships, and we’re doing the same here at the league level. And it’s about continuing to integrate with the basketball community and making sure players and agents know that the fastest way to get to the NBA is through the D-League, and we’re just continuing to march along.
We announced the Portland Trail Blazers and Idaho Stampede are entering into a hybrid agreement. I do expect that we’ll see more of those, whether this summer or the coming years, so we’re actively in conversations with many NBA teams and D-League teams that are seeking to enter into similar relationships, and that’s very positive.
NBADLeague.com: There was certainly a big business deal that went in before the Playoffs this year, with signage on uniforms. That was a big deal. A lot of people didn’t realize that was going on, but all of a sudden players are out there with signage on their jerseys. Is that something you’d like to pursue going forward, given that it is a hot topic among NBA pundits?
Reed: It is something we’re looking at. If we find the right partner, it is something we would consider on a much broader scale. It certainly is unique and interesting and a valuable piece of inventory for potential partners, so we think it’s a good opportunity. Obviously, it’s something the NBA’s looking at, as well, and one of the functions we serve is as the R&D department for the NBA, so that is on the list of items we’re looking at.
NBADLeague.com: It wasn’t very intrusive. It wasn’t a giant McDonald’s sign on the front of somebody – it was a little more subtle. Were you happy with the way it was executed?
We were. We think BBVA was, as well. It’s interesting – that placement on the back of the jersey where the name typically is, is a pretty intriguing place for a partner. The typical basketball fan, their eyes are drawn to that space to look for the name. BBVA really liked it, and we think it’s really great inventory if a partner wanted to come on board.
NBADLeague.com: What are you looking forward to most this summer?
Reed: A little bit of rest [laugh].
But look, we’re so thrilled with the progress the league has made, the momentum we have right now. I bound into work every single day knowing the opportunities that are in front of us. So, we really thrive on continuing to grow, continuing to change for the better, continuing to work with our teams to make a more perfect league, every single day.
That’s really what gets me going every morning and why I enjoy what we do here.
NBADLeague.com: What are you most proud of about the 2011-12 season?
Reed: Ultimately, that 120 players in the NBA have experience in the NBA D-League.
When I first came in to this league five years ago, I think that number was in the 50’s, maybe 60’s, so to have created so many opportunities for so many players through all the great work that our teams and our staff here at the league have been able to do is really, really gratifying.
We’re making people’s dreams come true, and that’s really a lot of fun. We’ve built a business structure and the operational structure and the buy-in to allow that to happen is something that, on behalf of all my colleagues and our team, I’m really proud of.