President of Basketball Operations
With almost 35 years as a practicing attorney with Washington, DC-based Williams & Connolly, LLP, Lon Babby brings a wealth of experience as an industry leader in sports and contract negotiations to his role as the Suns’ president of basketball operations. Identified as one of “Washington’s Top Lawyers” for media and sports law by Washingtonian magazine, one of the “20 Most Influential Agents” in the nation by Sports Business Journal and one of the 100 most powerful in sports by The Sporting News, Babby joined one of the NBA’s most storied franchises as only the fourth basketball president in the team’s 44-year history in 2010.
Charged with guiding the team through a time of transition and building for the future, Babby and his basketball operations staff spent two seasons readying the team for the 2012 offseason and beyond with a series of bold transactions and marquee trades designed to give the franchise flexibility and salary cap room. Phoenix infused both youth and athleticism with the free agent signings of Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley, and made the winning bid on the established Luis Scola. This came two seasons after Babby’s midseason acquisition of Marcin Gortat, who has developed from a perennial backup in Orlando into one of the Western Conference’s best centers with Phoenix. Babby’s department has placed a premium on building through the draft, demonstrated with the selections of Markieff Morris (2011) and Kendall Marshall (2012), and the acquisition of additional picks that will give Phoenix six first-round and four second-round selections in the next three drafts.
One of the industry’s most successful and well-regarded player agents, Babby brings his unique perspective of having represented players for 16 years to the management side. Babby entered player representation in 1994 when he was retained by then Duke forward Grant Hill. Together the pair devised a new model of player representation based on charging players on an hourly basis, rather than the traditional contract percentage. His principled approach became an alternative that appealed to the elite “good guy” athletes and his stable of clients grew to include some of the NBA’s most respected sportsmen, including Miami’s Ray Allen, San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, Miami’s Shane Battier and Hill, a three-time winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award. Babby also represented marquee Major League Baseball players and the WNBA’s Tamika Catchings.
Babby began his career in sports representing first the NFL’s Washington Redskins (1977-84) and then MLB’s Baltimore Orioles (1979-94). For the Orioles, he was intimately involved in the senior management of the club. He first served as club counsel and then general counsel, overseeing player contract negotiations, advertising and marketing contracts, labor issues and general business matters, including the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. During his tenure, the Redskins appeared in two Super Bowls, winning in 1983, and the Orioles appeared in two World Series, also winning in 1983.
A graduate of Lehigh University and Yale Law School and former editor of Yale Law Journal, Babby has served as an adjunct professor of law at George Washington University Law School. He began his career as a litigator and handled several high-profile cases including the defense of John Hinckley, Jr., who shot President Reagan. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and in 2007 was elected to the Greater Washington, DC Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
The 61-year-old Babby was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and grew up in Valley Stream, N.Y. He and wife, Ellen, met at summer camp at age 16 and have been married for 39 years. The couple has a son, Ken (32), and a daughter, Heather (28). Ken has a 4-year-old son, Josh. Heather is married to Eric Rimsky.