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Volume 21 No. 1
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Tatum to focus on growing NBA’s business globally

As Adam Silver was moving in as the new NBA CEO, the league promoted Mark Tatum to deputy commissioner and COO, the post that Silver left. Tatum has been at the NBA since 1999, most recently serving as executive vice president of global marketing partnerships. In his first interview since taking the new position, Tatum spoke about his expanded role at the NBA with staff writer Terry Lefton.

How will your new role complement the commissioner’s? Is it too simplistic to say Adam Silver’s purview will be basketball matters and yours will be the business side of the NBA?

TATUM: As commissioner, Adam’s going to be into almost everything. My focus is accelerating the growth of our business on a global basis. What’s exciting right now to me is that on court, our game has never been better. That is what’s been fueling all of our businesses. Coming from where I did, I’ve been dealing with global marketing partners, they supported our events, our digital media, our grassroots efforts, and dealing with our TV partners as well as the WNBA, D-League and USA Basketball. I’ve had exposure to many parts of our business on a global basis already and I’ll put that to good use. My role moving forward will be to find ways to accelerate all of our business lines around the world and continue the momentum established by David and Adam.

What do you see as the principal areas of growth for the NBA?

TATUM: Global, certainly, but more broadly, media. Across all business lines internationally, in sponsorships, merchandise, there’s opportunity internationally.

Some people I’ve talked to took note of the fact that you are the first non-attorney in a while with a big title at the NBA.

TATUM: We have plenty of lawyers (laughs). The companies that I’ve worked for: Clorox, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, along with the marketing and sales experience I have — that’s a solid foundation for my [new] job, which is all about growing our business. You don’t have to be a lawyer to do that.

How much of a learning curve do you anticipate when dealing with matters outside of marketing?

TATUM: As someone from the marketing side, the best thing about the recent changes here is that our senior executives are all the best at what they do. All my direct reports have been here from 10 to 20 years and it’s a great group. … As for the teams, we’re off to Sacramento and San Francisco this week. I have relationships with all of our teams, not only in the NBA, but the WNBA and the D-League. I intend to get out on the road and see as many of our teams as soon as possible. I’ll also work with Amy Brooks and TMBO to help create more ticket sales, build our fan bases and marketing programs at the club level. Those are the most fundamental long-term drivers of our businesses.