Matt Babcock, Senior NBA Draft Analyst of BasketballNews.com, 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 first entry in the series, Babcock describes moving to Los Angeles to begin his lifelong dream of working in basketball.
In the spring of 2006, I parked my car, left my apartment in Tucson, Arizona, and hit the road. In my rearview mirror was the University of Arizona and my futile playing career; however, I was not looking back. In my mind, I was destined to follow in the footsteps of my father and uncles – working in basketball. It was time for me to turn the page and start my next chapter.
At the other end of this road trip, there was a summer internship in Los Angeles where I worked at one of the biggest agencies in all of sports: Wasserman Media Group. At the head of the agency’s basketball division was famed sports agent Arn Tellem, who is now vice president of the Detroit Pistons.
(Before becoming a sports agent, Tellem worked as general counsel for owner Donald Sterling and the San Diego Clippers. Tellem was also instrumental in the team’s move to Los Angeles in 1984. Also, my uncle , Pete Babcock, had been the vice president of basketball operations for the Clippers while they were in San Diego, so my family had a long-standing relationship with Tellem dating back to the early 1980s before I was even born. Probably because of my family’s relationship with him, I was offered a summer internship at Wasserman — and of course, I accepted).
Having already worked in the agency industry for over a decade, many people ask me how I got started. Many assume that I went to law school and had a sophisticated and well thought out plan to pursue a career as a sports agent. Well, that was not the case at all. On the contrary, I had always wanted to work directly for an NBA team, even as a child. I thought I would start my career as a coach and eventually move into scouting, just like my dad did. I will detail all this later.
While working for Wasserman, I had typical intern-type responsibilities, such as sending faxes to teams or running errands at the airport for players and staff members. However, Bob Myers and Greg Lawrence (both agents) explained that my main responsibility would be to assist with on-court player training and help prepare their new clients for the NBA pre-draft process. It was the perfect starting point for a budding young coach.
I was ready to start my career working in basketball – a dream come true. But there was a big problem: where was I going to live? It was a paid internship, but like most internships, it was only entry-level salary, and LA is an expensive place to live. My father worked in the NBA for years and my family did well, but I assure you that I was not in a “butter sauce”. I needed help!
To some people’s surprise, even though I grew up in an NBA family, I never had access to a lot of money to spend on my own. Still, I benefited greatly from my family’s connections within basketball, especially early in my career. My first stop in Los Angeles was perhaps the best example.
After tapping into my family’s network and trying to find a place to spend the summer, our family friend, Sam Goldfeder – an agent for Excel Sports Management and, ironically, a Wasserman competitor – graciously offered to stay with her mother-in-law. -law’s guest house for the summer — free!
So I drove my car west on I-10 through Arizona and California. Cell phones didn’t have GPS yet, so I grabbed my printed MapQuest directions and headed out to the Los Angeles area. Before I knew it, I was in Beverly Hills, one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the world. I walked past the Beverly Hills Hotel and realized I was on the final stages of the directions:
- Head east on N Crescent Dr to Sunset Blvd.
- Turn right on Sunset Blvd.
- Slight right onto Benedict Canyon Dr.
- The destination will be on the left.
Sam hadn’t given me any details about the house or the layout other than that I would just be staying in the guesthouse. I was relieved and grateful to have a place to stay, but I was still curious to see where I would live for the summer.
When I finally arrived home, I couldn’t believe it – the place was amazing! It was like a house I imagined where a movie star would have lived. Eyes wide open, I pressed the security gate button, and an unfamiliar voice answered, “Hello? I replied telling the person who I was and that I was supposed to stay in the guesthouse for the summer. Afterwards, the door opened and I pulled my car into the scenic driveway.
I was greeted by several women who worked for Sam’s mother-in-law back home. They said they would cook me dinner, buy groceries, and have me dry cleaned whenever I needed. They then showed me the guesthouse at the back. The whole situation was a bit surreal. I was lucky and I has been
fortunate! It was perfect!
I was a 22-year-old fresh out of college, ready to spend the summer in the heart of Beverly Hills among the rich and famous, while working for one of the biggest agencies in the industry. Sport. Finally, after a disappointing playing career that weighed heavily on me, I had the chance to start fresh and pursue my ambitions to be present in basketball – separated from my family.
The next day I started my first day at Wasserman and my first day at work in basketball. With high hopes, I had before me a world of endless possibilities.
Stay tuned for the next entry in this series: “My Past Life as a Sports Agent: The 2006 NBA Draft.”
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on BabcockHoops.com.