There have been a lot of personnel changes at NBA headquarters, most notably Adam Silver being promoted to NBA Commissioner. So who filled in his spot as NBA deputy commissioner, and what exactly does that job entail?
Meet Mark Tatum.
Portland Trail Blazer guard CJ McCollum spent a few minutes with Tatum backstage at the NBA Draft last month at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as the deputy commissioner was preparing to announce the Second Round for the first time.
Mark Tatum (left) and CJ McCollum
CJ McCollum: As NBA deputy commissioner, a lot of people are not familiar with the responsibilities of that position. What are some of those?
Mark Tatum: In my position as deputy commissioner I’m largely responsible for the business of the NBA. It includes the sponsorship group, the global merchandise group, international business, events and marketing of the NBA, the communications department, as well as the WNBA and NBA D-League. The last area is our team marketing and business operations. So, it’s all the business operations of the league.
CJ: So you’re the guy to talk to for my endorsement opportunities?
MT: Absolutely. In my previous role as the head of global sponsorship, I spent a lot of time working with players and facilitating discussions between them and corporate sponsors. The Kia/Blake Griffin deal was a result of discussions I had with Blake’s representatives.
Prior to the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk contest in L.A., they called me and said, “Blake wants to jump over a car,” and I said, “That’s great. You know he has to jump over a Kia car, right?” That led to a longer term relationship with Blake. So, yes, we can talk. I can help facilitate the right introductions.
CJ: OK, great, that’s something we’ll save for later. A lot of people may not know you played a little bit of baseball back in the day, and you also worked for Major League Baseball, as well.
MT: That’s right I did. I see you did your research. I love it.
CJ: Tell me a little bit about your baseball experience and what you did for MLB.
MT: I grew up right here in Brooklyn, New York, not too far from here, in East Flatbush. I went to high school around the corner from the Barclays Center, Brooklyn Tech, and we won a New York City Public High School Championship. I played in the parade grounds, played my whole life and played in college as well at Cornell.
I ended up going to work for Major League Baseball after I graduated from business school and worked in their Corporate Sponsorship group. I thought that was going to be the dream job for me because I played baseball growing up. When the NBA was coming out of the lockout in 1998-99, I received a call. I had always been fascinated by the branding and marketing of the NBA, the globality of the NBA, and when they called me and said that they were interested in talking about positions, I decided to have that conversation.
I just loved the proposition that the NBA had. I loved the idea that the NBA was going to continue to grow on a global basis and they were going to continue to do great marketing. Joining the NBA was one of the best decisions I ever made.
CJ: Well, I’m glad you made that transition. For selfish reasons, I appreciate it! Just two more questions before I let you go. Obviously technology is big in the NBA now. What do you think the status is with technology integrating into the game, and where do you see it fitting in and advancing?
MT: It will be a big part of the game, technology, and particularly with the NBA, because our players and fans are early adapters of technology. We as a league have to be on the cutting edge of that technology and we are looking at all kinds of ways to continue to incorporate technology into our game.
Whether it’s tablets courtside or more sophisticated instant replay capability, technology can be used to speed up decisions on the court and provide data and analysis to help our players improve their game, to help our coaches and general managers and the entire NBA family improve. We view technology as an enabler to the game. It will continue to be a big part of it.
CJ: Lastly, I asked Adam how he felt about announcing the first round of the Draft and maybe not hearing as many boos. However, you may be the one on the receiving end of the those boos, so he told me to give you advice. You know he supports you no matter what, whether you get booed or not, and if you need a shoulder to lean on he’ll be there for you.
What advice do you have for the rookies?
MT: Well, my advice for the rookies is to, one, enjoy this night. All of our players who are here tonight have dreamed of this moment. They had a dream of growing up and making it to the NBA, and to have that dream fully realized is an amazing thing so appreciate that, put that in perspective, and then work hard. This is a league that values hard work, and if you work hard and invest time in your game and in getting better and improving, you will reap the rewards on the court and off the court.
CJ: I appreciate you taking the time to do this, I have to leave you with this last question. What is your favorite book? You know I was a guy who was into magazines growing up. My mom told me, “You need to expand your knowledge a little bit, you need to step outside your realm.”
What is your favorite book to read or do you have one that you can recommend?
MT: I like business books. I also like books that just kind of take you out of the realm of reality. I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s work, I think he’s an amazing writer. He wrote Outliers and Tipping Point. Those are some of the more recent books that I’ve enjoyed because he frames things in a very interesting way and I think that it’s a very provocative way of thinking about things. Gladwell makes you think about a different perspective, and so that would be one of the writers I would recommend.