Traditionally, pro sports organizations don't really like to draw the curtain back on their business operations. They only like to discuss things in general terms, feeding the press just enough info to keep them happy. The real stuff that goes on behind-the-scenes is rarely discussed with any openness or candor. But that is changing as the line between the teams and the press and bloggers and fans begins to blur. At SB Nation, we'd like to think we had a small hand in that, going all the way back to when Billy Beane would spend time with our own Tyler Bleszinski explaining moves he made to the fans through Athletics Nation.
Over on the NBA side of the house is the Phoenix Suns blog Bright Side Of The Sun. They've long had access to the Suns team and have earned their reputation as fan-oriented site that is fair and passionate. They speak to the core fans of the Suns and the Suns organization is smart enough to recognize that. So when Media Day came recently for NBA franchises, Bright Side Of The Sun was granted and exclusive interview with the Suns team president Lon Babby.
What came out of that is an awesome article that gives a deep look into the management structure at the Suns, how they got to the model they use now and how they operate in everyday situations. Babby gives some very candid answers to questions, including how the execs skill-sets compliment each other with a vivid example concerning an NBA trade.
"My skill set now compliments Ryan's skill set in the way I always envisioned it would work," he continued. "He has complete running room to make the personnel decisions. I'm not driving any of that. He's driving it. I am able to facilitate it, asking the right questions that someone in my position should do."
Babby describes the typical relationship in the business world between executives and senior managers. Both levels participate in the strategic, long-term planning process. But the executive is more focused on risk management and the long-term bottom line while the senior manager (McDonough) has the job of implementing the plan in the best way possible.
Babby used the Eric Bledsoe trade as a perfect example of the new alignment. New Assistant GM Trevor Buckstein - who has been with the Suns for years but was promoted this summer - found a way under the cap to get J.J. Redick to the Clippers without them using their MLE, while Babby called Redick's agent and McDonough called Doc Rivers.
"But that trade doesn't get done if Ryan didn't think Eric [Bledsoe] was the right player," he said. "I wasn't making those judgments and I shouldn't be. He's very definitive, he's very strong in what he wants to do."
Now it might be hard to follow some of that if you're not a Suns fan, but reading the whole article perfectly sets it up so you understand what's going on. Seriously, if you have ever wondered about the management of a pro sports team, this article is a must-read.
So congrats to Bright Side Of The Sun and to managing editor Dave King who conducted the interview. Just one more example of how blogs with media access are providing teams with direct access to fans. It's a two-way street that enriches both sides.