Arn Tellem is Vice Chairman for the Detroit Pistons. Reporting to owner Tom Gores, he joined the organization in August 2015 following a distinguished career as one of the top player agents in sports.
As a representative of ownership, Mr. Tellem has broad responsibility for business strategy, planning and development, and strengthening the connection between PS&E and the community. With respect to the Detroit Pistons, Mr. Tellem is responsible for league-related initiatives as one of the team’s Alternate Governors on the NBA Board of Governors. In 2017 he served as Mr. Gores’ point man and chief negotiator in the successful bid to bring the franchise back to the city to after an absence of 39 years to play at Little Caesars Arena.
Mr. Gores describes Mr. Tellem as “one of the most accomplished and respected sports executives in the world” and says that “he shares my belief that sports can be a catalyst for change in the community.”
A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Mr. Tellem has said the opportunity to contribute to the region’s revitalization was a key factor in his decision to join PS&E:
“I’m excited by the potential in Detroit and throughout the region – in commerce, the arts and on the basketball courts and playing fields. It’s been a privilege to spend so much of my life helping guide the careers of professional athletes, but making a difference to a community gives you a deeper sense of purpose.”
To that end – Mr. Tellem has spearheaded a number of community partnerships that earned the organization national recognition. Committed to making an impact in the city of Detroit and the metro region, the club’s community relations efforts were recognized nationally by ESPN as a finalist for the ESPN 2016 Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Award. Mr. Tellem, Mr. Gores and the Detroit Pistons Foundation made significant commitments to, and forged and strengthened relationships with S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center, the Detroit Police Athletic League, City Year, Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, the Bing Youth Institute/BINGO Mentoring Program, Forgotten Harvest, HAVEN and the Jalen Rose Youth Academy. The main objective: to involve players, coaches and administrators during yearly events with each organization. The Pistons maintain a wide range of community programs through NBA Cares, addressing health and fitness, education, military, special needs, Black History and green initiatives. NBA Cares programs and participants have provided more than 3.9 million hours of hands-on service and created more than 1,080 places where kids and families can live, learn or play in communities around the world.
Mr. Tellem is also leading the charge for Palace Sports & Entertainment’s partnership with Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Rock Ventures to bring an MLS franchise to Detroit.
A long-time board member of PeacePlayers International and Seeds of Peace, Mr. Tellem lends his time and supports the organization’s efforts to bring together children from conflict regions to promote tolerance and understanding. Using basketball to bridge barriers, PeacePlayers International operates year-round programs in South Africa, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Israel and the West Bank.
Mr. Tellem has represented more than 500 professional athletes in his career, including numerous former Detroit Pistons. He joins PS&E following nine years at Wasserman Media Group, where he served as Vice Chairman and oversaw the Team Sports Division. In 1989, he founded Los Angeles-based Tellem & Associates, which was acquired in 1999 by SFX Entertainment, the world’s largest producer and marketer of live entertainment. Mr. Tellem served as Chief Executive Officer of SFX Sports until he joined Wasserman.
Mr. Tellem began representing professional baseball and basketball players in the early 1980’s. Before that, he was a partner at the law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, where he specialized in sports law and commercial litigation. Mr. Tellem also served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers between 1982 and 1988. In 2006, Sports Business Journal named Mr. Tellem the Most Influential Agent in Sports and The Sporting News named him "Most Influential Sports Agent.” In 2004 and 2005, he was the only NBA player agent named as one of The Sporting News’ "50 Most Influential People in Sports Business.” Mr. Tellem was recognized as the industry’s top agent by the magazine in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2008, Sports Business Journal ranked him second among sports agents. Two
years later Business Insider named Mr. Tellem one of the world's four "best" sports agents. In 2013, Forbes ranked him the third most powerful agent in sports; and first in basketball.
A member of the American Bar Association and the State Bar of California, Mr. Tellem served as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California School of Law and is frequently invited to lecture on issues related to sports law and business. He received his bachelor’s degree from Haverford College in 1976 and his J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1979.
From 2009 to 2010 Mr. Tellem wrote a semi-weekly sports column for The Huffington Post. He has also written for Sports Illustrated, the Op-ed page of The New York Times and The Japan Times.
Mr. Tellem is married to Nancy Tellem, the former entertainment and digital media president of Microsoft and a onetime president of CBS Television Studios, formerly CBS Paramount Television. They met in 1974 while both were summer interns in Washington, D.C. The couple has three sons: Michael, Matty and Eric.
A Distinguished Career That’s in Full Swing! Tellem Weighs In on Business Strategies and Connecting with the Community