NBA players retire from their careers at a very early age, often saying goodbye to their life's work before they turn 40. While their salaries suggest that they should be able to never work again, their lifestyles, competitive nature, and basic human desire to stay busy mean that they often look for new work post-retirement. Given their areas of expertise, many pursue other jobs in basketball.
Yet this transition can be difficult, because many of these jobs require vastly different skill sets than those that players develop during their on-court careers. A veteran may develop a sophisticated understanding of what a team needs to succeed, but it's very different to acquire those players and manage an organization.
So, in order to prepare himself for that world, veteran forward Corey Maggette, currently a free agent, is going to school. From Jared Zwerling for TrueHoop:
It all started in early June, when Maggette traveled to Treviso, Italy, with Detroit Pistons assistant GM George David for the 11th annual adidas Eurocamp, a three-day showcase of Europe's best youth basketball players. While getting the rare opportunity to shadow David as he evaluated talent, Maggette also wanted to build relationships with the many other NBA GMs and team presidents in attendance.
"I gained different perspectives on how these guys think, and it kind of gives you an idea of things that you want to be about when you're finished," Maggette told ESPN.com.
"I was actually able to sit in on [David's] interview process with the players. It was kind of cool because as an active player those players actually knew who I was, and I kind of gave them a raw-deal speech of what the NBA is really about." [...]
A few weeks later, Maggette attended the NBA's newly launched Corporate Crossover program, where he, along with 14 former players, including Willie Burton, Ronald Dupree, Bo Kimble and Kerry Kittles, heard from many different NBA department heads about their roles and getting in the door to work for the league. Maggette was the only active player present. [...]
At one point during the Making the Transition class of the program, Maggette's résumé was shown on the projector and analyzed by a human resources representative.
"I was embarrassed," Maggette said, laughing. "But I appreciate the criticism; it's an opportunity to learn. ... You have to be able to take constructive criticism; that's a big key."
Maggette deserves credit for taking advantage of these programs and opportunities. It's especially impressive that he realizes he's not yet ready for every challenge of these jobs and knows he must improve his credentials and preparation.
It's worth remembering, though, that this challenge doesn't only arise when players transition from the court to the front office. Coaches who become general managers must learn new ways of judging players, assistants who become head coaches need to learn to manage more aspects of the team, etc. The player-to-executive leap may be the greatest one of them all, but it's more a difference of degree than of kind.