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Volume 21 No. 1
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Forty Under 40

The NBA’s lockout may have cost the league the first two months of its 2011-12 season, but the labor battle didn’t dent the league’s sponsorship roster thanks in part to the collaborative management style of Emilio Collins, NBA senior vice president of global marketing partnerships.

Collins, 39, deals with all of the league’s corporate partners across all NBA properties, and his skill in managing those relationships was on full display during the work stoppage.

“He held our partners’ hands during the lockout where uncertainty was the biggest issue,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. “We heard multiple compliments on Emilio’s ability to be both direct and forthcoming but also on his ability to portray a vision for the future. Because of his passion for the NBA, and for sports, he is able to bring the sport alive for clients and potential partners.”

Not only did the NBA retain all of its league partners during the lockout, it also added Sprint and Under Armour, and signed renewals with Anheuser-Busch, Gatorade and

“We made sure the value of the relationships remained intact,” Collins said. “We collaborate with our partners in good times like last season and in more challenging times like through the lockout. We are very transparent with what is happening to find the right solutions.”

Collins, who was a standout wrestler during his undergraduate days at Michigan State, joined the NBA as a sponsorship account director in 2001. During his tenure at the league, he has seen the league adopt a more global marketing strategy, which he says will only continue to grow.

“I have been in my current role for two years overseeing all the partnerships, and what we have tried to do is make sure we are more integrated across the globe to collectively deliver value to our partners,” he said. “My focus has to make sure that in the end, our business is creating the right stories for our partners.”

Age: 39
Title: Senior vice president, global marketing partnerships
Education: B.A., human resources, Michigan State University, 1995; M.A., sports administration, Ohio University, 1996
Family: Wife, Kate; daughters Naiyah (5) and Zadie (1)
Career: Event management at Integrated Sports International (later acquired by SFX); business development for SFX Sports Group; began at the NBA in 2001
First job: Event coordinator, hot air balloon festival
Last Vacation: Sanibel Island
what's on your ipod? John Boutte, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Jack Johnson, Adele
Guilty pleasure: Pint of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond
Best stress release: Biking long distances
Pet peeve: Incorrect apostrophe usage; “look at me” people; people who say “no” without context or alternatives
Fantasy job: Photographer
WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT: My girls (literally) and their futures (figuratively)
Business advice: Be transparent, work with smart people you genuinely like, always see the opportunities within every challenge; learn from disappointment and move on.