LA Clippers Headed in Right Direction for Title Run

LA Clippers GM Dave Wohl Makes 1st Appearance at UCLADavid Wohl, the General Manager of the Los Angeles Clippers, came to our Sports Business Program this week to give us some insight into his career and the player operations side of professional basketball. Wohl knows basketball inside and out. He spent some time playing in the National Basketball Association in the 70s. Although he enjoyed his time on what he referred to as the “See America Free Tour,” after seven years Wohl decided to take his talents to coaching, where he spent several seasons working alongside Doc Rivers. After going through the good times of winning as a coach and the bad times of losing as a player, Wohl decided to take his career to the executive level.

David Wohl is currently going into his second season as General Manager of the Los Angeles Clippers. In his time with the Clippers, he worked under the tumultuous Donald Sterling regime and transitioned into the new Steve Ballmer ownership. In other words, he has seen a lot in his short time there. While Sterling never asked or valued, really, the opinions of any Clippers employees, Ballmer encouraged employees to contribute and make and impact on the team together. Between the change in ownership and his reunion with Doc, Wohl saw a bright future ahead for the Clippers.

Wohl said the new Clippers team has its foundations in shared leadership. Doc Rivers insists that the players to be invested in the team and demands that they make it their team. He challenges players to talk to each other and work things out. For example, Big Baby, Glen Davis was always complaining about have to do more workouts and the other players would tell him to do more, to do better. Policing each other holds each player accountable and keeps them invested in the greater good of the team, all egos aside. This shared leadership goes beyond the court, too. Wohl said he looks to different groups among the Clippers employees to take on new tasks and jump in together on projects for the greater good of the team.

When asked his opinion on analytics when it comes to choosing players, Wohl said that other qualities take priority over basketball analytics. Whether a player is coach-able, a good teammate, has good character, etc. is most important. The statistics come secondary. It’s all about the chemistry. Wohl also shed light on the importance of mentorship. The Clippers acquired Paul Pierce, so they will now have a hall of fame mentor at the three position. Wohl thinks it will be great to have another strong leader and mentor next to Chris Paul for the team to look up to.

By the end of his talk, Wohl addressed what he knew we were all wondering about: the Deandre Jordan trade. In short, he told us that it came down to showing Deandre the great situation he was in and the relationships he had made in Los Angeles. Deandre is a very important part of the Clippers and everyone is happy he is staying, including Deandre.
Wohl left us with some solid professional advice about breaking into the field: do something to get yourself noticed. The business is built on what is coming next; don’t show the employer what they have now, show them what the need.

Note: Article submitted by UCLA Sports Business student, Kinsey Burgess.

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NFLPA Executive Director Makes Impact in First Appearance at UCLA

On Wednesday, July 8th, the UCLA Center for MEMES Sports Business program had the amazing opportunity to hear from DeMaurice Smith, the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association. He began by explaining how he acquired this position; as a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, Mr. Smith enjoyed a very successful career as a prosecutor for many years, acquiring skills that proved to be useful in his

Thomas Duarte, Deon Hollins. DeMaurice Smith and Mark Francis

Thomas Duarte, Deon Hollins. DeMaurice Smith and Mark Francis

career with the NFLPA. He emphasized that although he hadn’t had experience specifically in the sports industry, his reputation as a non-negotiator and strong fighter in private practice allowed him to easily transition into this position, fighting for the well-being of NFL players and their families. He spoke of the breadth of knowledge that Marvin Miller (Executive Director of the MLB Players Association ’66-’82) provided him as a mentor, and stressed the importance of mentors in our own young careers. Additionally, Mr. Smith described his negotiations with the NFL and team owners throughout the 2011 lockout, during which he successfully fought for player safety (specifically regarding concussion safety), better healthcare, and increased salaries and benefits.
After speaking about his own experiences, Mr. Smith was extremely generous with his time, staying to answer as many questions as the MEMES students could think of regarding ethical issues, team name controversies, the NFL Combine, genetic testing and more. He focused on the need for new, young minds with the guts to think about things differently in the sports industry in order to close the massive gap between players and management.

Overall, Mr. Smith provided some eye-opening perspective regarding professional sports from the point of view of the players. The UCLA Center for MEMES cannot thank him enough for his time and commitment to the next generation of sports professionals.

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Abigail Sisson

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Ned Colletti Shines at UCLA

Today, our UCLA Sports Business class had the pleasure of listening to a speech from Ned Colletti, the former General Manager and current Senior Adviser to the President of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mr. Colletti took us through the history of his career and personal life from his time as a youth in his native Chicago through to his current position with the Dodgers. He allowed us to grill him with questions and provided us with invaluable advice and life experience that we will not soon forget. Mr. Colletti began by taking us through the early stages of his life. He took us through his childhood and we were able to see where he came from and how he was raised. He then moved on to his college years and the early stages of his working career. This is where most of us in MEMES are at in life, so it was extremely relevant to hear his mindset at our age. It was also fascinating to compare where he was at in his career to where we are at in our careers at the same stage in our lives. Mr. Colletti progressed through the latter stages of his career and made an effort to explain why he made the career moves that he did. I found this particularly helpful because hearing his reasoning will aid me in making future career moves. Hearing someone as credible and respected as Ned Colletti dish out advice was an incredible experience for all of us here at MEMES. Mr. Colletti gave us a tremendous amount of insight on how to be successful in this industry and provided us with answers on all the questions we had regarding the past, present, and future of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball. The most valuable piece of advice I took away from Mr. Colletti’s speech was that hard work is critical for success. He didn’t attend a top rated school or have an endless amount of connections. He simply worked hard and that is exactly what all of us here at MEMES plan on doing. I would like to personally thank Mr. Colletti for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to meet with our class. It truly was a wonderful experience.

Note: This article was written by Noah Morris, Sports Business student at UCLA Anderson Center for MEMES

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Leigh Steinberg Returns

It was a great pleasure to see Leigh Steinberg in class again this year. 2013UCLAAnderson-titleCard Leigh not only explained his outstanding career paths, but also he gave us many constructive suggestions according to his past experience.

Leigh Steinberg is arguably the world’s best known sports agent and has represented over 150 professional athletes in different sports fields, including football, baseball, basketball, boxing, and other Olympic sports. As we all know, agent is a very significant part that connects the professional sports to the economic profits. During the speech, most of the topics surrounded the “agent”, such as how to deal with the relations between players and agent, how to recruit potential players, and how to guide players to act positively in front of public. Those topics are quite interesting and fresh to all the students, especially to those rising future agents in the class.

As usual, he also provided many useful suggestions on how to find and get an ideal job or internship. He emphasized the uniqueness. A dry resume cannot make the candidate outstanding from thousands of other applicants. Applicant needs to have something innovative to attract the recruiter.

It was very educational speech everyone enjoyed the two hours with him. MEMES really appreciates Leigh Steinberg’s dedication to the UCLA Sports Business program at the Center for MEMES..

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2015 UCLA Sports Business Program Ready to Go!!

In what is slated to be the largest class in our history,  students from around the globe will ascend iDodger Stadium 3nto to Westwood on Monday, June 22 to begin their insightful journey into the exciting world of Sports Business. As in previous editions, students will be exposed to a variety of major topics facing the sports industry including; Sports Ethics, Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, Sports Law, Stadiums, Event Production & Management, Sports Broadcasting, Sport Sponsorship, Social Media in Sport as well as multiple facets related to the exploding field of Sports Technology.

This year’s program will also feature what is easily the most impressive group of guest speakers we have hosted to date including the following:

  • DeMaurice Smith – Executive Director, NFL Player’s Association
  • Dan Guerrero – Director of Athletics, UCLA
  • Dr. Bert Mandelbaum – Team Surgeon, USA Soccer
  • David Wohl – General Manager, LA Clippers
  • Ned Colletti – Special Advisor to the President & Former GM, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Leigh Steinberg – CEO, Steinberg Sports & Entertainment
  • Trevor Whiffen – Partner, Dickenson-Wright & Governor, London Knights
  • David Meltzer – CEO Sports 1 Marketing
  • Felisa Israel – CEO, 10 Fold Entertainment
  • Andrew Nicholson – Director of Digital Media, Sacramento Kings
  • Joann Klonowski – VP Host Towns, LA 2015 World Special Olympic Games

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The Great… Leigh Steinberg

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For several years, super sports agent Leigh Steinberg has been a featured guest speaker of the UCLA Sports Business Summer Institute. Every time he attends our program the students are impressed with his career and advice, as well as his great industry stories.

During his 30-year career, Steinberg has represented over 150 professional athletes in football, baseball, basketball, boxing, and Olympic sports.  He has countless stories that pertain to the sports business world including what kind of athletes he sought out to represent when he started out as an agent. Our students had a variety of questions for the popular sports agent.  These questions encompassed everything from his thoughts on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony’s decisions on the NBA free market, to his input on the Donald Sterling case.  When asked about his movie/producing career, Mr. Steinberg laughed saying,  “Jerry Maguire is always on… That’s a good thing.”  If you haven’t seen the movie Jerry Maguire, it is based on Mr. Steinberg’s entry into the sports agent industry, starting with his number one pick in the NFL Draft.  Mr. Steinberg also coached various actors and actresses on how to act like a football player, coach and/or owner in movies such as “Any Given Sunday” and “For the Love of the Game”.  As a sports business guru and popular guest speaker, Mr. Steinberg left the students with practical and encouraging advice on how to enter the sports industry.

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Second Week Speakers Bring Insight, Wisdom and Excitement

Ted Yeschin – Wasserman Media Group

Wasserman Media Group is a huge entity in the sports industry. They cover over 1200 athletes and negotiate deals for commercials, marketing promotions, athlete appearances and endorsement deals. Wasserman is a global company with around 300 employees.

The class had the pleasure of Ted Yeschin, Senior Director of Business Development at Wasserman Media Group, as one of the week’s speakers. Mr. Yeschin has been very supportive of the sports program in previous years and the students always take away great insight into the sports industry after his candid presentations.

Mr. Yeschin has many responsibilities at the Wasserman Media group, but a big part of his role is endorsement deals and athlete appearances. Some of the athletes he works with are basketball, baseball, football, soccer players and even retired broadcast personnel.

Students kept the session interactive, asking various questions about the athlete-based company. Mr. Yeshin showed various clips on endorsement deals, commercials and marketing tactics that he has worked on showing the variety of his work and his creativity. He wrapped up his presentation with the quote,

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Every student hopes they leave UCLA a step closer to that dream!

Greg Issacs – National Football League

IMG_1249Wednesday, Greg Issacs, Vice President of Digital Media for the National Football League (NFL) spoke to our students about his position with the NFL which includes digital marketing, technology management and business intelligence.

Mr. Issacs joined the NFL after serving as VP and GM at AT&T Interactive. Prior to AT&T, Mr. Issacs was a product manager at Vantage Media and LeadPoint, two early stage digital marketing companies. He began his digital career at eBay where he was the Director of eBay’s Developers Program and was responsible for making eBay the largest and most innovative web services platform.

Mr. Issacs talked about growing the game internationally, including the NFL presenting three games in London this year. When a student asked if they planned to use current athletes in promotions to other countries, Mr. Issacs mentioned that Andrew Luck, of the Indianapolis Colts, filmed a commercial in German for the German fans. He also talked a lot about connectivity and keeping fans engaged all year round via media platforms. The students enjoyed hearing about how important digital media and marketing is to one of the largest sports leagues in the world – the NFL.

Luc Robitaille, Josh Veilleux, & James Cefaly – Los Angeles Kings

Coming in fresh off a second Stanley Cup win in three years, our students had the pleasure of speaking to a few of the top-level executives of the Los Angeles Kings. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Luc Robitaille, who is also the President of Business Operations and Alternative Governor talked to us about the difference of playing for a professional team and then transitioning to the business side of sports. The common theme amongst all three speakers was that in the last ten plus years, it has been amazing to see the change in the way the organization operates. They have worked hard to change the culture internally, but also gain fans, sponsorship and support from those living in Southern California.

Josh Veilleux, VP, Corporate Partnerships, talked a lot about how much sponsorship has changed over the years. Sponsorship went from just having the sponsor’s name on a board, to creating a story or hockey related and branded content that is appealing to fans. Examples you can see around Staples Center include Waste Management’s recycling videos with Kobe, Matt Greene and other athletes that play at Staples Center. Additionally, with the teams growing success, making the Western Conference Finals 3 years in a row, and winning two Stanley Cups in those three years, their offseason is shortened drastically. They have a tighter turn around between seasons to get renewed sponsorship deals and marketing plans set in motion for a new season.

Mr. Veilleux also mentioned how sponsorship is an ongoing learning process. The Kings organization continuously looks at other sports organizations both domestically and internationally to see how they can continue to grow sponsorship with new and innovative ideas.

IMG_1252Lastly, James Cefaly, Senior Director, Fan Development and Community Relations spoke about working in the local community to grow hockey and fans. The Los Angeles Kings partnered with CCM/Reebok and Hockey Monkey, and started a program called Lil’ Kings. This program allows boys and girls, ages 4-8, to learn the sport of ice hockey for the first time and received free equipment. These efforts are what helps the sport grow in California, along with the efforts of rival SoCal team, Anaheim Ducks. Both teams have worked hard to make hockey one of the premiere sports in a difficult California market.

Overall, the students were impressed with the speaker’s information about a successful sports team in the Los Angeles area. We are very thankful that Mr. Robitaille, Mr. Veilleux and Mr. Cefaly took the time to come in and speak to our sports business class where students were able to see the challenges some sports teams can face in diluted, busy sports markets.

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