In the small world of professional basketball, it is often hard to find the limited roles within a team but for one lucky man, he’s not only secured a role on a team, he’s helping manage it as well.
Alex Schwerin is entering his second season as General Manager of the Springfield Armor in the NBA Development League. The Armor had a tough first year, finishing with a record of 7-43 but the University of Massachusetts-Amherst graduate is not worried as he begins to create and market a fresh looking team as the Armor enter the 2010-2011 season.
“My goals are to have increased attendance this season," Schwerin stated. "At the same time, I would love to see the team do well and make the playoffs and certainly it is tremendous to see one of our players get called up to the NBA during the season. That is what it is all about.”
Schwerin works on ticket sales, promoting the team, marketing of the team and hiring staff as he is on the business side of the organization.
One of the big hires in Springfield was Dee Brown, a former NBA player and dunk champion for the Head Coach and Director of Basketball Operations position. In this role he oversees and handles the basketball side of the organization which includes dealing with trades and draft day activities.
“Dee and I discuss the team fairly frequently. From time to time I chime in with my two cents from the business side about certain players or certain situations related to the team, but for the most part I let Dee do what he thinks is best for the team," he says.
The Armor is a second year team affiliated with the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Philadelphia Sixers. Though the teams may have players who are under the two year limit and can be sent down like Evan Turner and Derrick Favors, they do not pay attention to the rumors of players being sent down because the D-League can be tougher on general managers as the rosters are always changing but Schwerin states it’s a part of the game.
“It is hard to build consistent and team chemistry over the course of the season," Schwerin states. "If you have the same players all the time and you are not getting anyone called up to the NBA than you are not doing a good enough job developing the players for the NBA.”
Schwerin was lucky enough to see last year’s first round pick JamesOn Curry get called up to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2010 and hopes to see someone like him drafted again when the Springfield Armor are on the clock as the team picks fifth overall.
With player allocation existent in the D-League, Schwerin keeps an eye open to local university basketball teams but realizes the price that comes with it as well.
“It is always nice to be able to get a player with local significance from a marketing and ticket sales standpoint, but it can’t come at detriment to the team on the court. If a player is good and he has local significance than it is a ‘perfect storm.’”
He enjoys watching his hard work pay off in the form of happy fans and knows he is one of the few lucky people who enter and have a huge say in what goes on in a sports franchise.
“I think the best part of this job for me is the experience I have been able to get with starting a team from scratch that has been invaluable and will help me in my career moving forward," he said.
It’s not only his career he is moving forward as he states that 20 percent of NBA players have been in the D-League system such as New Jersey Nets guard Jordan Farmar and Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes.
“For myself, I think a lot of people don’t realize the number of hours and the hard work the staff and I put in year round to make this team a success.”
While he’d love to make the jump into the NBA or even in baseball where he started his career in a minor league role with the Colorado Rockies, he knows it will be in a different position title.
“I would love to work in the NBA or MLB someday but to be honest," Schwerin admits. "I don’t think my role would be as a GM at that level. Because my expertise is on the business side, not the basketball or baseball side, I would most likely be in a position on the business side of a Major League team.”
Though you won’t see him on the court, you will get a glimpse of what he has help create as the Armor take to the court this year as they enter their second D-League season.