For those who work in the NBA, what is the most special day of the year?
The premiere is energetic, no doubt. Christmas is loved by fans and TV networks, but for those involved, it’s a work day. Game 7 of the NBA Finals is a big one, but it’s rare and doesn’t affect too many people.
The answer, for most, is Father’s Day.
The father-son dynamic in the league is almost ubiquitous, affecting just about every team and many facets within franchises. Working in the NBA is prestigious, often lucrative, and sometimes a lot of fun. And apparently quite contagious, as many sons want to follow their fathers in the business.
The Finals just concluded was one of the most striking examples in history, as father-son bonds in the NBA are deeply rooted in both the newly crowned champion Golden State Warriors and the runner-up Boston Celtics.
The series featured six players whose fathers played in the NBA. From the Warriors: Steph Curry, son of Dell; Clay Thompson, Michal’s son; Gary Payton II, son of Gary; Andrew Wiggins, Mitchell’s son. On the Celtics: Al Horford, son of Tito; and Luc Cornet, Frank’s son.
“I am very grateful that my dad is always there for me at games,” said Al Horford, whose father played three seasons in the NBA. “Obviously just someone who has played the game before. Not on this stage, but played the game. He understands basketball.”
During the series, it was common to see former players on the floor, sometimes saying nasty things about their sons.
“[My family] were at almost every playoff game, but it was great to be able to share that experience with them,” said Wiggins, whose father played in the league for six years and beamed with pride on the floor in the moments after the Warriors won the title in the sixth game in Friday evening.
“We talk about games and he just helps me.”
Fathers of the players – that’s where it all starts; just start with the Golden State franchise. The son of Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Nick, is an assistant coach with their G League team, the Santa Cruz Warriors. Owner Joe Lacob has two sons, Kurt and Kent, who work at the team’s headquarters. Vice President Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s father was a player, coach and executive. Assistant general manager Larry Harris is the son of longtime NBA coach Del Harris. Pro Scouting Director Johnny West is the son of NBA great Jerry West.
At the Celtics, assistant general manager Austin Ainge is the son of former team president and player Danny Ainge.
There are about 30 current NBA players who are the sons of former NBA players. There are also those whose fathers played professionally abroad and whose uncles or cousins were also in the game.
The current five head coaches in the league are JB Bickerstaff (Cleveland Cavaliers), Steven Silas (Houston Rockets), Wes Unseld Jr. (Washington Wizards), Michael Malone (Denver Nuggets), and Eric Spoelstra ( Miami Heat – whose fathers played, coached or worked in the league before them. Assistant coaches and scouts in the NBA have obsolete last names.
As with the Lakobs, owners often bring their sons and daughters into the family business. There are currently six team governors who have succeeded their fathers. Other owners have children working in business and basketball. Recently, Anjali Ranadiv, daughter of Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadiv, was named assistant general manager of the Stockton Kings.
The next generation is also showing up at work. Especially during the 2022 NBA playoffs, some current players who are fathers are bringing their young children into the game. During the playoffs, the Celtics were often attended by Jason Tatum’s son, Deuce. He was born in 2017, the same year that Tatum was selected third overall by Boston, and Tatum credits his involvement in high-stakes games with being part of his legacy.
“I am by his side every day. Being able to walk this path together because I was 19 years old when I was drafted, it’s like we’re growing up together,” said Tatum, whose father, Justin, played in college. at Saint Louis University. “As he got older, I go through my career sharing those moments, living through it together as we grow up.”
Just as the previous generation of the NBA prepared their sons for life in the league, this generation’s stars introduce their children to high-level professional basketball at a young age. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has set a goal for his son Bronnie to join the NBA, which could happen as early as the 2024-2025 season if Bronnie goes down the “all set” path. The two could be the first father-son duo to play on the same floor.
After the Warriors’ victory in Game 6, Draymond Green brought his three children onto the stage to celebrate with him. When he was younger and not yet a father when the Warriors won the title in 2015, he wanted to rush to a team celebration and often lost patience when he was photographed. This time, late Friday night, in the arena of the rival, surrounded by greenery, he stayed for almost an hour, posing with family members.
“You just realize that you don’t often get those opportunities. And when you have them, you should enjoy them, embrace them, and share them with the people you love,” Greene said. “Just to share these moments with my family, in particular with my children – they are 7, 5 and 1. You want photos. You hope that when they are 15 they will remember that.”