The middle-aged surfer dude with a purple dress shirt hanging over his jeans strolled around the NBA Summer League court at noon Friday, schmoozing with everyone from New York Knicks broadcaster Mike Breen to assistant general managers such as Wes Wilcox of the Atlanta Hawks.
Warren LeGarie, a San Francisco-based NBA coach agent, relishes his role as host to the 11-day professional basketball industry extravaganza that has arrived in Las Vegas. The summer league tipped off Friday at UNLV with 22 teams playing 61 games while hundreds of NBA and international team executives, coaches and scouts began checking out prospects. About 50,000 people are expected to hit the hoops gathering through July 22.
LeGarie masterminded the summer league in 2004 in Las Vegas with six NBA teams. Now, it’s the NBA’s and basketball industry’s “Sundance” summer event where the business of roundball rules.
Like a proud papa, LeGarie, who represents veteran coaches such as George Karl, Mike D’Antoni, Rick Carlisle and Mike Brown, soaked in the scene of fans pouring into Cox Pavilion for the summer league’s first game between the Knicks and New Orleans Hornets.
“It’s like watching your baby grow up,” LeGarie said. “The bottom line is that this event has to be good for the teams.”
LeGarie said a new wrinkle for this year’s summer league is a tournament after each team plays its third game. Teams will be seeded and a tournament champion crowned.
LeGarie puts on the summer league with Albert Hall, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based sports marketing company owner who handles all the business details from importing a new court surface for this year’s event to lining up sponsors.
When not representing NBA coaches, LeGarie enjoys body surfing off the coast of Costa Rica. LeGarie “body surfs with the best of them,” Hall said.
The NBA, which brings 200 staffers to the summer league, contracts with LeGarie and Hall to stage the event. The association holds its Board of Governors meeting next week in Las Vegas, so even NBA team owners and representatives will be part of the basketball events.
Before the Knicks-Hornets game, LeGarie swapped greetings with just about everyone who had a courtside seat.
That included Breen, fresh off performing the TV play-by-play duties at the NBA Finals last month.
With tongue firmly in cheek, Breen cracked, “He’s such an introvert. He doesn’t like talking to anyone.”
The broadcaster, handling the Knicks broadcast assignment with former Knicks great Walt “Clyde” Frazier during the summer league, then turned serious and noted LeGarie’s two great strengths are that he’s a people person and a lover of professional basketball.
“He’s so gregarious,” Breen said. “He loves basketball.”
Wilcox said LeGarie has created an event that serves as a “great platform to evaluate talent on numerous levels. You can evaluate players who are in their first, second or third year. It’s a great place to evaluate players from the international market.”
Wilcox added the summer league is a great networking opportunity.
“You have everyone from college coaches to my colleagues on other teams. You have senior executives to 23-year-olds just breaking in with teams,” Wilcox said. “It’s the most valuable event we have throughout the scouting calendar.”
Contact reporter Alan Snel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273.