Carl Scheer has worked in virtually every aspect of sports business during his 40-year career. He has represented players as an agent; worked as an assistant to former NBA Commissioner Walter Kennedy; toiled in the NBA for the Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers; helped develop the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, S.C.; and co-owned minor league hockey’s Charlotte Checkers. Scheer even created the slam dunk contest during the ABA’s All-Star Game in 1976. This month, the 73-year-old begins the latest chapter in his career as senior community affairs adviser for the Charlotte Bobcats. Staff writer John Lombardo recently talked with Scheer about his new job.
Title: Senior community affairs adviser, Charlotte Bobcats
First job in sports: Assistant to former NBA Commissioner Walter Kennedy
Brand most admired: Nike
Hometown: Springfield, Mass.
Last book read: “Open: An Autobiography,” by Andre Agassi
You’ve come full circle with the NBA in Charlotte. What made you want to return?
I really have come full circle. I worked for the ABA’s Carolina Cougars with Larry Brown as the coach. I was president and general manager of the Charlotte Hornets from 1987 to 1990 and spent two stints [with the NBA] in Denver. I am a basketball freak and have never stopped having a passion for basketball. I do think that there are a lot of good things happening with the NBA and I do believe that the NBA’s best years are ahead. The league will get a new collective-bargaining agreement and there will be prosperity in the NBA.
What paved the way for your return to the NBA?
I had a lengthy conversation with Michael Jordan and [Bobcats President] Fred Whitfield and we clicked. I was convinced that Michael is committed about making the Bobcats a success, and I want to be part of it.
What are the key differences in the Charlotte basketball market today compared to when you ran the Hornets?
I can say that we were very fortunate when the Hornets came to Charlotte. We came into virgin territory. The [NFL] Panthers weren’t here. The community did not have a major league team and it was a hotbed of basketball. It truly was the right place and right time, and we really were in the perfect storm.
So what needs to be done to improve the Bobcats’ community relations?
Midsize markets like Charlotte, Denver and Portland must integrate themselves into their communities in order to succeed. That is part of the master plan. We are trying to develop a new department that will help impact the team and the community.
What career advice can you offer?
I talk to young people all the time and in this business you have to realize that you really have to have a passion to succeed. You must be willing to sacrifice your personal goals in life and some balance that you may want because you must be willing to work long hours for modest pay. Successful teams are built with collective talent. You need to have that not only on the basketball floor but also on the business side as well.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned?
You can’t make every right decision and you can’t agonize over the decisions that you make. You have to move on and try to learn from your mistakes, and agonizing over your decision will destroy you. It is a game of making instant judgments based on your best abilities. Whether it is a player or a business decision, you make it under the best advice and the best set of factors and then move on.