SBD/December 4, 2012/People and Pop Culture

SI Profiles Rockets GM Daryl Morey, Who Combines Fan Engagement With Tech Savvy

Morey sometimes chats with fans about the Rockets' plans going forward
Rockets GM DARYL MOREY, by the standards of NBA GMs, is “remarkably unpretentious and open," according to Chris Ballard of SI. He “tweets regularly, will speak on your podcast if you ask nicely and recently asked his Facebook friends if any of them could offer babysitting opportunities for his 13-year-old daughter.” Morey in the Rockets’ office “jokes with interns, mocks his own geekiness and responds to most requests with the phrase, ‘Yeah, sure.’” He recently “spent the better part” of a Rockets home game “chatting with two fans seated behind him, answering questions about the team’s future.” Morey said, “I figure if I can’t explain the plan to a random fan, then I can’t explain it to anybody.” But there is “one area in which he is guarded.” All his mail “comes to the Toyota Center rather than to his home address.” Morey said, “I grew up in Cleveland, and when ART MODELL left the city (with the Browns), people were stalking his house. … I learned from that.” Ballard notes other NBA execs “respect Morey -- 'smartest G.M. in the league,' says one -- and many like him personally.” He nevertheless “represents a threat, especially because he’s so open with the media.” One exec said, “He has good intentions, but that’s not how I do business.” In managing the Rockets, the “best way to mitigate risk is with information, and in this regard Houston goes to extraordinary lengths." In addition to the team’s "proprietary databases and evaluation systems, which Morey is hesitant to discuss publicly, the Rockets were the first NBA team to install SportVU, which is based on Israeli missile-tracking technology and uses tiny webcams installed in an arena’s rafters to record the X/Y coordinates of each player 72,000 times a game" (SI, 12/3 issue).

GOLDEN TOUCH: In Toronto, Doug Smith writes what Nuggets Exec VP/Basketball Operations MASAI UJIRI has “gone through in just about two years running" the team shows “the magnitude -- and very public nature -- of his accomplishments.” Ujiri has had “more major events to deal with than some team bosses have in a lifetime.” Smith: “To say it’s been a whirlwind since he took the job after the 2009-10 season is a gross understatement.” Ujiri’s “ascension” to his current position is “the culmination of a decade of doing almost everything that can be done in an NBA front office” (TORONTO STAR, 12/4).
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