The man forged a path as exciting as the Warriors’ prolific play. His journey became as dizzying as when opposing teams defend Golden State’s 3-point shooting with little success. His fortunes appeared as rich as the Warriors’ likely NBA-record 16-game winning streak to open the season when they host the Lakers (2-11) on Tuesday at the Oracle.
Bob Myers leaped from UCLA walk-on to a scholarship player on the Bruins’ 1995 NCAA championship team. After studying at Loyola Law School, Myers studied under prominent sports agent Arn Tellem well enough to become one of his associates. Three years after becoming the second-youngest general manager in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors, Myers oversaw a championship roster that partly reflected his image.
“Cultivating a championship team was not anything I dreamed of doing,” Myers said in an interview with Los Angeles News Group. “I can only look back and see how it all occurred.”
THE MAN BEHIND THE SCENES
Nearly 20 years later, Myers called the cover a “perfect picture” for how it epitomized his life story.
“I’m always behind the scenes and always trying to help something or someone succeed,” Myers said. “But I’m not the focal point.”
But it was not too long ago that Myers was not even in the picture.
His high school basketball career at Monte Vista ended early after San Ramon Valley center and current Lakers assistant coach Mark Madsen made a game-winner over Myers in a playoff game. Myers sent out tapes to the University of Washington, UC Santa Barbara and a handful of other schools, though he conceded “there are not a lot of highlights.” Those schools apparently agreed.
So, Myers enrolled at UCLA to become a business and economics major. He also planned to play for the school’s crew team. But then Myers randomly ran into UCLA assistant coach Steve Lavin, who encouraged him to try for the basketball team.
Myers listened to his advice. Former UCLA coach Jim Harrick believed Myers could challenge his scholarship players in practice with his hustle and 6-foot-6 frame. He averaged only 0.3 points per game during the Bruins’ national title season. But in the 1996-97 campaign his junior year, Myers established career highs in points (20) and minutes played (22) in a win over Oregon State. He soon became a part-time starter.
“He really gained the respect of all the players with how he played hard,” Harrick said of Myers. “He helped us in every way.”
Through it all, Lavin affectionately called Myers “Forrest Gump,” with how the seemingly every-day man unexpectedly experienced lavish experiences.
Following the Bruins’ championship run, Myers met with President Clinton, appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and participated in the parade at Disneyland. Myers also enjoyed lunches with the late former ULCA coach John Wooden, who offered infinite wisdom.
“Wooden had always said ‘luck is when preparation meets opportunity,’” Myers recalled. “So maybe my whole life I was preparing to be a hard worker so I could have that opportunity at UCLA.”
AN EAGER LEARNER
Myers may not have enjoyed opportunities for a professional basketball career in Europe as he hoped. But opportunities soon opened elsewhere.
As Myers logged 15-hour workdays as a student at Loyola Law School, Harrick contacted Tellem about interning with his agency. Myers soon shadowed Tellem at players union meetings before quickly becoming one of his associates. Myers then represented a handful of stars, such as Brandon Roy, Brook Lopez and Antawn Jamison, and negotiated more than $575 million in contracts.
“He had impeccable relationships with the clients. More importantly, he became a friend and valuable part of the company,” said Casey Wasserman, of Wasserman Media Group. “His success he’s having now is no surprise to me or to anyone else who have worked with him.”
Hence, Tellem soon introduced Myers to Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge and Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob. Then, Lacob learned about Myers’ affection for the Warriors’ franchise.
In his wallet, Myers has kept the ticket stub of his first Warriors game he attended on Jan. 15, 1982, against the New York Knicks. Myers became attached to the “Run TMC” Warriors that featured Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin. Myers grew restless over the Warriors not winning an NBA championship since 1975.
Little did he know, Myers set the hook for his next job.
In April 2011, the Warriors hired Myers as their assistant general manager after becoming impressed with his personality, extensive contact list and work ethic.
“It was kind of a gamble because there were no assurances,” Myers said. “This is a very volatile industry being in the front office. I was taking a big risk.”
But it turned into a big reward.
The Warriors promoted Myers to general manager within a year. He then oversaw a significant number of moves that contributed to Golden State’s championship run in 2015, including an NBA-best 67-15 record.
Myers oversaw Golden State’s five-player deal that secured Andrew Bogut while shipping Monta Ellis as the centerpiece. Myers negotiated the four-year, $44 million extension in 2012 for Stephen Curry, who became last year’s regular-season MVP.
Myers was involved in hiring Steve Kerr as head coach after the Warriors fired Mark Jackson following the 2014 offseason. Later that summer, Myers resisted pressure from Minnesota to trade Klay Thompson in a deal that would have landed them Kevin Love. The Warriors also have arranged their cap space to have enough flexibility to secure a max-level free-agent next summer.
“We enjoy the discussion and enjoy debate,” Myers said, crediting Warriors co-owners Lacob and Peter Guber, assistant general managers Travis Schlenk and Kirk Lacob as well as advisor Jerry West. “That’s why we’ve been able to get our decisions more right than wrong. We’re certainly not going to be right all the time. But it’s a process.”
Through that process, Myers has gained respect for his approach.
“He’s not afraid to ask for peoples’ opinions and he’s very open-minded. He just wants what is best for the team,” Thompson said. “I’m grateful they had great faith in me. I wanted to prove them right.”
Thus far, Myers has proven the Warriors right by continuing to navigate a path he would have never envisioned. All of which prompted him to quote former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
“‘You cannot connect the dots looking forward,’” Myers said. “‘You can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.’”