If you examine the commemorative cover of Sports Illustrated closely, you can make out part of Bob Myers’ head.
Mostly, you see his arms wrapped around Tyus Edney, hoisting the UCLA point guard into the air after Edney’s legendary baseline-to-baseline basket beat Missouri in the 1995 NCAA tournament.
The snapshot perfectly captures Myers’ rise to prominence, from a bit player with the Bruins who won a national championship to a high-powered sports agent to the second-youngest general manager in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors.
He is always the guy behind the guy, using a hands-on approach to put himself on basketball’s biggest stage.
“He’s been in the right spot at the right time his entire life,” said Steve Lavin, the St. John’s coach who encouraged Myers to try out for the UCLA team as a walk-on when Lavin was a Bruins assistant under Jim Harrick.
Myers’ teammates once called him Forrest Gump, as if he were along-for-the-ride lucky.
He averaged a whopping 0.3 points per game during that national title season and still received the full hero treatment. He met President Clinton, yukked it up with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” and paraded down Main Street at Disneyland.
The nickname was good for a chuckle, but it didn’t stick.
It couldn’t. No way.
Lucky doesn’t describe someone who went on to earn a scholarship with the Bruins and become a part-time starter.
Lucky doesn’t involve 15-hour workdays as a student at Loyola Law School who also served as an intern under Arn Tellem, impressing the super agent enough to become one of his top associates.
Lucky doesn’t entail texting Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob about a minute detail at 1 a.m.
“You can’t ensure success, but you can deserve it,” Myers said, repeating a phrase that has become his mantra. “I like that because you can’t guarantee results, but you can put in the effort to achieve them. If you put in hard work, something positive usually comes with that.”
Myers, 37, has made quick work of putting some fight back into the Warriors.
A franchise that has been to the playoffs once in the last 19 years holds one of the best records in the Western Conference, trailing only the Clippers in the Pacific Division. Golden State recently beat the defending NBA champion Miami Heat on a layup by rookie Draymond Green, one of Myers’ four picks in the June draft.
The Warriors’ ascent has come almost as quickly as Myers’ split-second apprenticeship as an assistant general manager, which was supposed to last a couple of years but in fact was completed in 12 months.
“After a year, I just decided he was ready,” said the Warriors’ Lacob. “He was what I wanted and needed going forward.”
Myers’ promotion in April meant that only Orlando’s Rob Hennigan, 30, was younger among the league’s general managers.
Perhaps none of Myers’ counterparts are as adept at understanding their players’ needs. Myers represented stars such as Brandon Roy and Brook Lopez during his 14 years as an agent, negotiating more than $575 million in contracts.
It was his personal touch that his clients found most invaluable.
“He was just one of those people that I needed that wasn’t a family member, somebody who I knew was going to tell me the truth,” said Lakers forward Antawn Jamison. “He knows the game and he can communicate with players like no other person I’ve been around.”
One of Myers’ first moves as GM involved trading Dorell Wright, one of his former clients, as part of a three-team deal that netted the Warriors productive point guard Jarrett Jack. Myers then signed free agent Carl Landry and negotiated the four-year, $44-million extension for Stephen Curry that is looking like a bargain considering the guard’s All-Star-caliber play.
Every decision carries extra meaning for Myers considering his lifelong affinity for his employer. He attended high school in the Oakland suburb of Danville and loved the “Run TMC” Warriors of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin.
“There’s an attachment that’s beyond business, a personal attachment,” Myers said. “It would be like making some big decision for your favorite team. It’s exciting, exhilarating, but it’s difficult to maintain balance because you can care too much.”
Running the Warriors was not the goal when Myers left home to attend UCLA as a business and economics major. Then again, neither was playing for the Bruins.
Myers intended to try out for a different sport when he ran into Lavin in the school’s athletic department and inquired about the location of the school’s crew office. Sizing up the 6-foot-7 Myers, Lavin suggested he play basketball.
“I introduced him to Coach Harrick,” Lavin recalled, “and the journey begins.”
Myers went from a walk-on as a freshman to an occasional starter as a senior, but it was clear his playing days ended when the Bruins were eliminated in a NCAA Tournament regional final.
Harrick introduced Myers to Tellem, setting off a series of nice-to-meet-yous with Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge and then Lacob that would lead Myers to his current job.
Lacob said he liked Myers’ diverse skill set and vast network of contacts. It also helped that Myers was a great listener who believed in a collaborative approach with colleagues listed above and below him on the company directory.
And then there’s that drive that has taken him places no coast-to-coast layup ever could.
“My whole life,” Myers said, “I’ve always had to outwork people to be successful.”
It’s an approach that continually keeps him in the picture.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
ARCHIVE PHOTOS on MCT Direct (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099):
WARRIORS BOB MYERS