Brooklyn Nets Manager Sean Marks Bets on People
The Brooklyn Nets have become one of the NBA season’s biggest surprises. Auckland-born Sean Marks is the basketball team’s manager and he recently spoke with Harvey Araton, a sports reporter for The New York Times.
Araton reached Marks by phone – who was on a scouting trip in Slovenia.
First question: How the heck did you convince your team, at 8-18, that the remainder of the season would not be a countdown to a 14 per cent lottery prayer for the No 1 pick?
“I will tell you that we never had to sit down and say, ‘Hey, guys, we’re going to keep playing hard’,” Marks said – “we” meaning he and coach Kenny Atkinson. “That was player-led, strictly character-driven.”
It has been a wishful return on assembling a roster of lower draft picks and reclamation projects, players with “chips on their shoulders”, in the general absence of lottery blue chips.
“The never-ending odyssey in this business,” Marks said, “is doing your homework and betting on people, their will and their drive.”
Marks is a 43-year-old new Zealander, drafted in 1998 by the Knicks out of the University of California, Berkeley, and traded the next day with good company, Charles Oakley, to Toronto for Marcus Camby. A 6-foot-10 frontcourt reserve, he survived with modest NBA skills for roughly a decade, which explains much of what has happened since his retirement as a player in 2011.
“There probably are very few people who had careers as long as Sean had while getting as few minutes, and there’s a good reason for that,” said R.C. Buford, the San Antonio Spurs’ general manager, for whom Marks played for two seasons and apprenticed as an assistant coach and front office executive.
“In every role he’s had, he’s been a culture builder,” Buford said.
If the Nets do qualify for playoff position, Marks could be a candidate for executive of the year for stocking his roster with hope, against the odds.
Marks was the first New Zealand-born player to play in the NBA.
Original article by Harvey Araton, The New York Times, February 6, 2019.
Photo by Mary Altaffer.