SBJ/April 10-16, 2017/People and Pop Culture

Plugged In: Brad Seymour, Windy City Bulls

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Brad Seymour was hired last year as president of the NBA D-League’s Windy City Bulls, who recently completed their inaugural season playing in the Sears Centre in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. Seymour spent his entire career in minor league baseball, operating Class A baseball’s Lancaster (Calif.) JetHawks and Lake County (Ohio) Captains from 2011 to ’14. Seymour spoke of the challenges of gaining attention in Chicago, and the effect of the league changing its name next season to G-League as part of its title sponsorship with Gatorade.

The biggest challenge is that we are a minor league franchise in a very major league market. The education of what we are both on and off the court is still growing, and we face it every day as we are out there in the community.


Photo: COURTESY OF BRAD SEYMOUR
On operating a D-League team compared with minor league baseball: I was 20 years old when I started in minor league baseball and it was all I’d known. So how do you go from minor league baseball to minor league basketball? I joke that I am virtually doing the same thing but I’m doing it inside versus outside. My job is to get people into the seats and create events, themes and promotions to get people out to games. My job on a day-to-day basis is the same as it was. It’s integrating ourselves into the community. I was looking at the D-League and seeing the direction it had been going, so when the Bulls reached out, I jumped at it. The one thing I have never done was to be part of a new franchise and building it from the ground up. It was a challenge I was looking for.

On the business differences between the D-League and minor league baseball: I love being in the minor leagues but having major league resources both with the [Chicago] Bulls and the NBA. What has surprised me is how involved they are. How important this is to the NBA has really opened my eyes and made it better as we launched. I have been able to lean on many people at the NBA offices.

On the challenges of the startup team: The thing I focus on is that we are truly an extension of the (Chicago) Bulls. We are integrated into the Bulls organization, and the people who produce our games are the same ones who produce games at the United Center. Once we have gotten people here, they are blown away by the talent on the court. The nonstop activity I am responsible for has opened eyes. It’s like going to a game at the United Center, but it’s right in our backyard.

On the impact of the D-League’s name change to G-League: It is the next big step for our league when you can get a brand like Gatorade to buy in and extend their existing partnership. We don’t have all the details yet, but what they will be doing will benefit our league and our players. It will make our league that much more attractive with the brand integration. It’s powerful to be a trendsetter in this space and to break ground in a lot of ways for other leagues.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                               — John Lombardo

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