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International Evaluation: On The Road With HEAT Scout Adam Simon

Jun 25 2003 10:26AM

Lucky for Miami HEAT international scout Adam Simon, “you can find a pizza anywhere.”

It may not sound like a big deal to Americans, but while Simon spends a great deal of his time evaluating basketball talent all throughout the world, a little taste of home can go a long way.

Responsible for the first line of HEAT scouting and evaluating talent throughout the globe, Simon spends about 35 percent of his career overseas observing basketball games, checking out practices, meeting with coaches and gathering information to bring home to Miami.

Traveling back and forth between countries like Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Slovenia, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania, Serbia and Israel, Simon spent the past eight months familiarizing himself with more than 100 NBA Draft prospects. Simon knows about each of their style of play, talent level, and, often after putting a name to a face, their height, weight and position.

The international talent search is far more complicated than identifying players in domestic college programs or various amateur clubs because the chance to see them in action and conducting background research is more difficult to come by. Therefore, Simon utilizes various scouting services, studies the players on film and develops successful working relationships with overseas coaches, general managers, agents and team representatives to learn more about up-and-coming potential prospects.

After doing his homework, it is time for Simon to pay a visit to these far-away destinations. While he says one of the best parts of his job is making friends and building relationships with people all over the world, the schedule is tough and the routine is demanding. Simon joked about how his itinerary is so hectic, he even found himself saying “bon jour” in Spain.

Although the language barrier makes things a bit trickier, he heads to each country and quickly picks up key words, especially thank you. Simon tries to avoid language barrier predicaments by preparing a detailed itinerary, complete with exact directions to the basketball facility and his hotel. While he may look back and laugh now, Simon recalls a stressful experience in Latvia, when after taking a taxi to the basketball game, realized it was the wrong place and ran three blocks to catch another taxi to take him to the correct location. After all of that, he was not allowed into the facility, until he splurged for a $1 ticket. However, he did make it inside just in time for tip-off.

Simon says that for the most part, all of the places he has visited are very modern, complete with McDonald’s, televisions and natives who are on top of the latest trends in fashion, music and more.

In fact, Serbia was the only country, recently war-torn, where the remains of bombed buildings and terrain was evident – not to mention the only place where his cell phone couldn’t get a signal. Serbia may not be as contemporary as his other stops, but the phenomenal basketball program the country runs blew Simon away. Taken from game to game, he was impressed by the dedication and hardworking attitude of these young players, many who dream all their lives to be in the NBA and play on several teams to get the most experience they can.

Working on very little sleep and endless jetlag, Simon goes from one country to the next, scouring the courts in search of something special. And it may mean no air-conditioning and standing room only, but when he’s made the 14-hour trip to see what could be the next player in a HEAT jersey, those factors become unimportant.

As the wave of international flavor is filtering rapidly through to NBA arenas, Simon’s responsibilities are growing all the more crucial.

For some, a trip to Paris may be a dream vacation, but to Simon, he’ll have to skip the Eiffel Tower tour – because you never know, it may mean missing out on the chance of discovering the next Yao Ming or Dirk Nowitzki.