As the professional careers of many professional athletes begin to unwind, many often contemplate their next steps. Typically, many pros have a desire to remain involved in the sport that has engulfed their lives since they were young kids. Some become involved as coaches, while others opt to take their place as analysts and broadcasters. And then there are those who have a knack for recognizing and evaluating talent, as a result of their many teammates over a long career. These typically find their way toward scouting units and even GMs.
The job of a GM is to construct the best possible roster possible for his franchise. It’s not an easy job, as it requires a combination of analysis, decision-making, risk management, and a very strong business sense. GMs need to balance the acquisitions of new players through drafts, trades, and free agency. They need to know which players to trade to get their hands on potential superstars through trades. And they also need to know how to attract the biggest names on the free agency market on a yearly basis.
Most of the GMs in the major sports in the country are not former players, but there is no doubt that those who have played the game for a long period of time know how the business operates. If they are business savvy, they could potentially have the skill sets necessary to be a successful GM at the pro level.
Here are the best players-turned GMs in pro sports history.
1.Jerry West – NBA
West was able to carry over his on-court success to the executive level, creating championship teams for the Los Angeles Lakers. As a player, he was an NBA All-Star in every single one of his 14 seasons, also winning one championship in the process. As a GM, he helped build a strong roster that brought the team another three titles. He was recognized for his success, by winning the NBA Executive of the Year Award twice.
2. Ozzie Newsome – NFL
An argument could be made for Newsome being at the very top of this list. Outstanding at evaluating talent, and with the business savvy attitude necessary to pull the trigger on necessary trades, Newsome made a name for himself as the top GM in the NFL. After a Hall of Fame career as a tight end for the Cleveland Browns, Newsome flourished in his role as GM, helping bring in talented players, who ultimately helped the Baltimore Ravens secure two Super Bowl championships. Among the best players drafted by Newsome, were Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, terrell Suggs, and Ray Rice.
3. Danny Ainge – NBA
A great player in his own right, Ainge was a member of the 1980s Celtics squads, who won two championships during his time with the team. While he was an NBA All-Star just once, he still was able to record a solid statistical career. Ainge was the GM of the Celtics for 16 seasons. During that time, Boston reached the postseason an impressively consistent 13 times. His brilliant moves to secure the Big Three (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen), was key in securing another championship for the Boston Celtics in 2008.
4. Joe Dumars
Dumars was well respected among his peers, as he reached the All-Star game six times during his career as a player. He was best known for being one of the top defenders in the NBA during the 1980s, winning All-Defensive honors on five occasions. He won two championships as a player, and then was able to help build a strong roster with the Pistons in the early 2000s. That team, led by Chauncey Billups, RIchard Hamilton, and Ben Wallace, brought back the championship trophy to Detroit in 2004.