An aspiring coach goes abroad

Matt Babcock, Senior NBA Draft Analyst of, presents a series that will open the curtain on his time as a sports agent, providing insight into some of his personal experiences in the sports agency industry for more than a year. decade.

In the third entry in the series, Babcock talks about his search for coaching jobs before entering the sports agency business, which eventually led him to go overseas.

Within months, I left the University of Arizona and completed a summer internship at the Wasserman Media Group in Los Angeles, California, which was an exciting summer and a great learning experience. However, the real world was knocking on my door and I needed to find a full-time job – a typical situation for a 22-year-old fresh out of college.

I had ambitions to be a basketball coach, not a sports agent, which I had planned all my life. After my internship was over at Wasserman, I tapped into my family’s network (with the help of my dad) in hopes of landing an entry-level coaching position – ideally with an NBA or D-League team. Although I had some interest from teams, I couldn’t get any legitimate offers. I realized then how difficult it is to break into professional sports, even if you are well connected.

For better or for worse, I’m not one to sit and wait for something to unfold organically. I felt I had to think outside the box and be assertive – so that’s what I did. I had the idea of ​​working with professional teams abroad. I ran it through my dad, and he thought it was a good idea.

We started calling people in our network who could facilitate this type of transaction. We spoke with Max Ergul, a Turkish agent who worked with Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova. We had gotten to know Max because he had moved to Milwaukee when Ersan joined the Bucks, the team my dad had worked for (and still does). Max liked the idea and started looking for opportunities for me. Before I knew it, he found a team in Istanbul, Turkey that wanted me to be an assistant coach with a focus on player development.

The terms of the agreement were unique: I would not receive a salary, but they would cover all my expenses (flights, food, accommodation, transport, etc.). The team wanted me to fly to Istanbul in August and be there all season. I only had a few months of work experience under my belt, but in my head, I was ready to take on the world; all I needed was an opportunity like this. I had decided to accept the case. I was ready to start my coaching career in Istanbul.

However, before officially accepting the deal in Turkey, I called Sam Goldfeder, an agent from Excel Sports Management. Sam had been kind enough to let me spend the summer at his mother-in-law’s guest house in Beverly Hills while I was interning at Wasserman. My intention of calling Sam was to thank him and inform him of my professional status, but the conversation didn’t go as I had expected.

Me: Sam, I wanted to thank you again for everything you’ve done for me this summer. I also wanted to let you know that I intend to accept a coaching position with a professional team in Istanbul, Turkey.

Sam Goldfeder: ” What ? ! Have you ever signed anything? »

Me: No I do not have.

Sat : “Okay, don’t! I’ll call you back.

He abruptly hung up the phone and I thought, “What was that?” However, I trusted Sam, so I looked forward to his call.

After a day or two, my phone rang. It was Sam.

Sat : “I have good news. I spoke with our collaboration partner in Italy, Matteo Comellini. I told him about your offer in Turkey, and he spoke to the team in his hometown of Bologna, Italy. They would like to match the offer.”

Me: No way, it’s amazing!

Sat : “Yes, it’s a great location. The team is called Virtus Bologna. It’s one of the best teams in Italy. It’s a great place – I think you’ll love it!”

Me: Thank you very much Sam! But first, let me talk to my dad, and I’ll get back to you.

After some thought, I decided to accept the deal in Italy, and just like that, my plans were revised. I packed up all my stuff, bought some Italian phrasebooks and hugged and kissed my mom, and left. I boarded the plane for Italy without speaking to anyone on the team, as all communication had been through Sam and Matteo.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I had signed up for, but one thing was certain: I was a future Italian resident and assistant coach of a professional basketball team.

Read the latest entry in this series: “My Past Life as a Sports Agent: ‘The 2006 NBA Draft.’

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on

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