Names Behind the Games: Reese Hicks

Names Behind the Games: Reese Hicks
By: Jim Eichenhofer,, @Jim_Eichenhofer
August 12, 2011

At an intimidating 6-foot-7, when Reese Hicks walks through the New Orleans Arena concourse during Hornets home games, fans sometimes stop him to ask if he’s a former NBA player. The truth is, Hicks never played in the league – but he’s not far removed from a career as a professional athlete.

Hicks, an account executive who began working for the Hornets in 2007, spent parts of three seasons as an offensive lineman in the NFL, suiting up for six different teams from 2003-06. After a standout college career at NAIA school Georgetown (Ky.), the Ohio native went undrafted by the NFL in 2003, but was signed by the Cleveland Browns, the franchise he rooted for as a child.

In his role with the Hornets, Hicks is one of seven account executives who interact extensively with the team’s 8,000-plus season ticket holders. Hicks and his colleagues provide service for all season ticket holders and help coordinate the renewal of their accounts every spring.

It’s likely that the majority of Hicks’ clients have no idea that the Hornets employee was once NFL teammates with Hall of Famer-caliber players Jerry Rice, LaDainian Tomlinson and Donovan McNabb. Or that in Cincinnati during the 2005 season, Hicks played briefly with a flamboyant wideout who in those days was known simply as “Chad Johnson.” In 2004 while with the San Diego Chargers, Hicks witnessed first-hand the breakout season of Drew Brees. Brees eventually parlayed that 27-touchdown, seven-interception campaign into a free-agent contract with the Saints in ‘06.
Speaking of the Saints, one of the highlights from Hicks’ NFL career was a 2003 preseason game in the Louisiana Superdome in which Hicks played for the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. The game was attended by 67,000 fans and televised nationally by ESPN.

Four years later, he landed a full-time job with the Crescent City’s NBA franchise. Prior to being hired by the Hornets, Hicks spent a year working for a Ohio logistics company, the first time in many years he wasn’t a serious participant in a sport.

“When your playing career finally comes to an end, you don’t realize how much you will miss it until it’s actually gone,” he said. “I knew that if there was a way for me to stay involved in sports, I wanted to try to do it as a career.”

While it may not be as intense as playing, Hicks views his current Hornets position as the next-best thing to being on the field or court.

“I’ve followed basketball my whole life,” Hicks said. “Basketball was actually my favorite sport as a fan, but I just wasn’t as good at playing it as I was at playing football. It’s been great to still be able to be around sports.”

More from Hicks on his background and time with the Hornets:

Two Hornets memories come to mind more than anything else. The entire playoff run during the 2007-08 season and winning Game 4 against the Lakers this season on Easter Sunday to tie the series at 2-2. It’s hard to pick one over the other.

For the past four seasons, I’ve gotten to know and become friends with a lot of great people, both co-workers and customers. The relationships and friendships that I’ve built have been what I have enjoyed most about my job.

A lot of my customers and fans of the Hornets expect me to be an ex-basketball player because of my size, but the last time I played on an organized basketball team was in eighth grade. I was the shortest post player on the team and never really played much. After that, I just focused on football instead.

After finishing up playing football, I was working in sales for a logistics company in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. I was there for a year, but missed being involved in sports, so I started e-mailing my resume out to every sports marketing company I could find online. Finally the right person got my resume and forwarded it on to the Hornets’ Bryan Ross, whom she had worked with for the Tampa Bay Rays. From there, the interview process started, and I’ve been here with the Hornets ever since.

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