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Philadelphia 76ers need Dock Rivers to fix its culture and teams to win in the future business

The LA Clippers’ Dock Rivers yell at the team in the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs Western Conference at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Advent Health Arena on August 23, 2020. Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

Chief Performance Officer.

This is the label that NBA insiders put on the Dock Rivers after a quick move from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Within a week, the Rivers moved from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, moving from a team owned by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to a team owned by Wall Street investor Josh Harris. Harris is a co-founder of Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm, and co-owns David Blitzer, Sixers and New Jersey Devils under the Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment Company.

An NBA executive, “Chief Performance Officer,” said when he explained the hiring of Rivers. “You have a CEO whose job is to present only the message. Well, the head coach is not just a message. He is a message and a result.”

NBA executives are sensitive to discussing the team’s business and have agreed to speak to CNBC on condition of anonymity.

“It’s appropriate in this situation,” added Andidrich, a former NBA executive, when talking about the “CPO” label.

And now, Rivers is Sixers’ new CPO. He is in charge of the Sixers roster that didn’t live up to last season’s expectations, chattering dissatisfaction among star players and the associated pointing.

Behind the scenes, current and former NBA executives, including New York Knicks executive Donnie Walsh, have approved the adoption of the Rivers.

Thanks to Covid-19, Drich, a former Memphis Grizzlies business operator, has taken ownership of the Sixers “as long as he has the patience to deal with all the uncertainties that every NBA team is dealing with.” Called “positive movement” by. ..

Rivers’ new five-year contract is over $ 40 million and includes incentives to trigger team performance. If he could offer the Philadelphia 76er title, a company that invested $ 280 million in Harris and Sixers could increase its valuation beyond the current $ 2 billion. However, Rivers faces the challenge of starting with product modifications and making their own coaching adjustments at the most important times.

Joel Embiid # 21 of the Philadelphia 76ers will react in front of Chris Silva # 30 of the Miami Heat in the third quarter at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 23, 2019.

Mitchell Lev | Getty Images

Doc leadership

The Sixers fired Brett Brown after the team left the NBA’s bubble postseason in the first round of August. The leadership of the Sixers, including HBSE CEO Scott O’Neill and team general manager Elton Brand, was a mystery with the team’s 31-4 home record, but poor performance on the streets 12-26. It was. As a CPO, Brown paid the price.

A staff member of an NBA team who knew about the Sixers incident said the club wasn’t focused on the road and the team’s travel party was too big. Staff called the Sixers “unorganized,” adding that the club had too many front office staff with titles but undefined roles.

Rivers, who turned 59 on October 13, also needs to repair the Sixers locker room to connect Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid’s franchise players. Sixers has given Rivers and Brand the key to basketball management decisions and is based on the history of Rivers’ messy team modifications.

A flashback to the work of Rivers’ second coach to help Danny Ainge transform the Boston Celtics after completing the Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce experiments.

The Celtics exchanged Walker for Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks in 2003 and eventually won the NBA Finals in 2008. The team returned to the finals in 2010 and fell to the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7.

At the Clippers, the Rivers didn’t live up to expectations and didn’t secure the championship, but he moved the team from what many consider to be the black mark in NBA history, with racial remarks. Former owner Donald Sterling has been dismissed. Rivers is also known for helping Ballmer navigate the first few years of NBA ownership.

“Your head coach provides the story, which is why coaches like Dock Rivers are so good and they are so expensive,” said Ballmer, who would hire another good coach. .. “But he will never find a better person than anyone else. [than Rivers].. “

On Thursday, the Clippers replaced the Rivers with his assistant coach, Tyronn Lue. Tyronn Lue oversees the roster who took a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs.

Scott O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia 76ers in New York, September 26, 2016.

Christopher Goodney | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Comfort zone

Rivers is praised for modifying the team culture, but he also needs to work on coaching.

In the NBA, star players judge coaches by adjustments made, especially in the playoffs. In the league, the Rivers have been criticized for failing to coordinate. Here he needs to be a recruiting assistant and innovative as he is starting to follow him more than the 2008 championship as he is starting to blow off the post-season lead 3-1.

Introducing the Sixers on October 5, the Rivers, now 91-89 in the postseason, recalled a quote printed on Sports Illustrated in 1999 during his first coaching career at Orlando Magic. It was. “Victory is safe,” Rivers said. “But if you want to be the winner, that means you’re out of that comfort zone.”

Asked by CNBC if they have plans to escape the comfort zone and how to get star players to follow, Rivers said, “I’m constantly changing. I’m always looking for another staff member. I don’t. I don’t think I’ll stop growing as a coach or as a person.

“If we’re going to win, I think you can’t keep doing what you’ve always done and you’ll get different results,” Rivers continued. “You have to do something different. You have to give yourself to the team. You have to give up something.”

An aerial photograph from a drone, this is an overview of the Wells Fargo Center on July 6, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Bruce Bennett | Getty Images

Future business

If we can help Rivers and Brand offer the championship to Harris, O’Neil’s job will be a little easier, as winning is equal to more business in the NBA.

“It’s the ultimate magnet for money,” said Dolic.

According to Forbes, the Sixers generated approximately $ 300 million in revenue and operating profit of $ 90 million. The team is entitled to air on the Comcast property NBC Sports Philadelphia until 2029. Broadcast rights on the Beasley Broadcast Group have also been secured for another three years.

O’Neill is known for helping turn 3,500 season ticket holders into around 14,000. It ranks first in the NBA in terms of ticket sales and attendance last season. He also landed the NBA’s first Jersey patch contract, landing Harris in a new $ 86 million training facility in Camden, NJ.

The Sixers will also host the NBA All-Star Game in 2026 in collaboration with Philadelphia 76ers and Comcast, which owns the Wells Fargo Center.

But like other members of the NBA’s Owners Club, including Ballmer, Harris wants a flashy new arena filled with a better fan experience when the club’s lease ends in 2031.

The building has undergone $ 250 million refurbishment, but in the new arena, thanks to Covid-19, better 5G, Esports products, the involvement of virtual and augmented reality through sponsorship activation, and more. A lot of medical technology is required.

Due to the active sports betting in the state, the Sixers can also emulate sportsbook play in the Washington Wizards arena.

The team was rejected by a proposal to build a new complex in Penn’s Landing, Pennsylvania, and was projected to bring $ 1 billion in jobs and training to the Philadelphia black community.

The timeline for building an arena is usually seven years, so O’Neill needs it to navigate politics and secure funds that may include taxes.

Harris may imagine a spacious place to build hotels, restaurants, shops and apartments around the new arena, but if staying in Philadelphia is essential, the team settles in a downtown location. can do.

Things get easier when the Sixers win the championship under the Rivers. Drich, former COO of the San Francisco 49ers, said the Sixers trio of new rivers, brands and O’Neill needed a “unification” to leave the “process-trusted” era.

“And if that doesn’t work, it’s dangerous,” he said. “If you have that unity, now Doc and Elton than Scott, they have to deal with the Chief Product Officer, most importantly because their feet in court.

Dolich added: “The unity of these three must lead to victory.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns CNBC.

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