My past life as a sports agent: The real beginning

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 sixth entry in his series, Babcock recounts how his background of growing up in an NBA family influenced him to pursue a career as a sports agent and how he started with Jeff Schwartz, Sam Goldfeder and Excel Sports Management to launch into what has changed. be the wild and crazy roller coaster of a career.

I grew up in and around the NBA, along with several members of my family who had successful careers as NBA executives. My family’s success has provided me with many unique benefits and opportunities, and I am certainly grateful. Yet it also caused me to have an inherent burning desire to create a name and an identity for myself in the world of basketball – separate from my family.

Despite a childhood that gave me full access behind the scenes of the NBA — including team planes, locker rooms and war rooms — I wanted more. Being “Dave Babcock’s son” or “Pete and Rob’s nephew” was never enough for me. I spent the first part of my life putting unhealthy pressure on myself to succeed as a basketball player. Thereafter, my playing career was my number one priority. I became a respectable player in high school, but I’m far from achieving my overall goals. After I finished playing, I focused on basketball. My burning desire to succeed has not disappeared; it increased significantly.

At the start of 2007, I was 22 and less than a year away from the University of Arizona and my unsuccessful playing career. I had previously done a summer internship with sports agency Wasserman Media Group, where I helped train their prospects for the NBA draft. I also had a brief assistant coaching gig with the Virtus Bologna pro basketball team in Bologna, Italy. Although I always thought my career path would be in coaching or scouting, I left my job in Italy to meet Jeff Schwartz and Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports Management to pursue a career as a sports agent. . I thought, “This is how I can blaze my own trail.

I got off the plane in Los Angeles, California and jumped into a cab. I said to the driver, “101 Santa Monica Boulevard, please. I have a job interview.” Pulling up to the upscale office building in the heart of West LA, I called Sam Goldfeder, and he told me to get on. Sam had become a mentor to me, as I had lived at his mother-in-law’s guest house in Beverly Hills the previous summer during my internship, and he had also arranged a job for me in Italy. He was pushing Jeff to hire me so they could train me to become an agent. However, there was no promise that I would get the job. So I took a risk by leaving my job in Italy.

I entered the office building and headed for the elevator. The building was filled with prestigious law firms, financial groups and other professional businesses. There were apparently very powerful “suits” running around. Excel, now based in New York, represented star NBA players including Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, Lamar Odom, Al Jefferson and Tyson Chandler, to name a few. It was a powerful sports agency.

Although I probably should have been nervous, as this was a huge opportunity for me, I wasn’t. I was young, confident and fearless – a situation where “ignorance is bliss” possibly applied. I got off the elevator and walked into Excel’s office, where Sam was waiting for me. The office space was impressive, yet pleasantly casual and comfortable despite the stuffiness of the building lobby. Sam introduced me to Duane Cooper, a former NBA player who was instrumental in the business by helping recruit new clients. I then met Jayme Messler, the marketing manager, followed by Heidi, Jeff’s assistant. Sam and I sat in his office for a short time and chatted while Jeff finished a phone call.

After a few minutes, Jeff walked into Sam’s office. He was a handsome, polished professional with an intense presence. Jeff briefly asked me about my background, but then cut to the chase and shifted his focus to telling me about my intention to be a sports agent and my commitment to pursuing that career path. He also explained to me, and pretty much warned me, that being a sports agent was difficult and not for everyone. I told him I was sure I wanted to be an agent and thought I would be successful, having a good understanding of the inner workings of the NBA due to the exposure my family had given me and my network should be good to me. serve in this industry. I assured him that I live and breathe basketball and the NBA.

He then questioned my ability to handle the pressure that would come with this career path. I explained my experience as a former athlete had prepared me. Finally, he asked me if I had considered going to law school. I explained that I felt ready to start a full-time basketball career. My answers to his questions seemed well received, as Jeff and Sam subtly nodded in apparent approval. Jeff told me it wasn’t the best time to add someone to their staff, but he would speak to Sam to discuss the options. Before I knew it, Jeff shook my hand, thanked me for coming, and walked out of the room. Sam followed him and asked me to wait there for a few minutes. When Sam came back to his office, he said he thought our meeting went well and he was optimistic. He said, “I think it’ll work out.” I jumped into another cab and headed back to LAX airport to catch a flight to Milwaukee, where my parents lived.

Once I arrived at my parents’ house, I waited to hear from Sam. I probably should have looked for other jobs instead of putting all my eggs in one basket. However, I knew I wanted to work for Excel. So I waited, and then I waited again. The more time passed, the more nervous and impatient I became. Eventually I called Sam to check in.

He told me he thought something was going to happen, but he was still trying to get the idea across with Jeff. So I continued to wait for what felt like several more weeks. I was going crazy, because I was so bored and couldn’t wait to start my career. I spent a lot of time in the gym lifting weights, watched the entire “Lost” TV show with my mom, and twiddled my thumbs waiting for the call.

Finally, Sam called. He said, “Okay, we’re ready to go. I’ll book you a flight. You start on Monday.”

And this is how “My past as a sports agent” really

Read the last entry in this series: “My past as a sports agent: Ciao means hello and goodbye”

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on

Previous An unwelcome new normal: supply shortages in the food sector
Next Moments before Grand Forks City Council's 6-1 annexation vote, speaker threatens to 'fall on that table' - Grand Forks Herald