When I joined the Golden State Warriors and moved to the Bay Area, I was inspired by the growing businesses and the diversified opportunities that the tech capital of the world—Silicon Valley—had to offer. One of my reasons for deciding to join the Warriors was to put myself in a position, geographically, that allowed me to become immersed in the growing tech industry. With billion dollar companies emerging at a rapid pace, we can find a venture to invest in and be passionate about. Athletes have an incredible advantage working closely with media, technology, and analytics on a daily basis and we must continue to maximize our opportunities while on the court and thinking about our futures off it.
The new generation of professional athletes must adapt to demands technology has placed on our lives, and what it means for our career in the 21st century. The average NBA career lasts three to four years, indicating the majority of our lives will be spent off the court. To prepare for post-league play, we need to reinvent ourselves as athletes and businessmen and develop skills outside of our 94 by 50 foot box. The tech industry is a natural fit as our work is directly influenced by technology -- wearables, social media, and game analytics. It’s important we understand that succeeding as an athlete, and also as an investor or tech entrepreneur, must not be mutually exclusive.
In preparing for my life after basketball, I have grown to understand and appreciate the importance of networking and surrounding myself with individuals who will challenge my thinking. By working closely with my business advisor Rudy Cline-Thomas, I have found mentors and colleagues in Silicon Valley such as Ben Horowitz and Jeff Jordan, both of Andreessen Horowitz, along with many others, who have been instrumental in helping me gain the necessary knowledge to facilitate my endeavors in the tech industry.
We should consider the investment space as a way to grow our earnings and contribute to the tech community— eliminating the potential lack of post-game life planning. Becoming involved in the tech industry was a pivotal moment for me as a player and my goal is to empower other league members to step into this space with me. When relationships between athletes and tech entrepreneurs are forged, both ends of the spectrum grow. This led me to spearhead the recent inaugural NBPA Tech Summit, a platform enabling athletes and tech entrepreneurs to collaborate.
Athletes are built for more than just the sport. Our work ethic is unparalleled, and we are gifted with an exceptional degree of aspiration and drive, suited for any profession. Being forward looking, the tech industry is central to our career on the courts, making it a seamless path to follow when the game is done. Thinking about career transitions near the end of the game is too late, because the time to start the process is while you’re still on the court.
As NBA players realize our position of global influence, it’s imperative we define ourselves as more than just basketball players, but also as businessmen and entrepreneurs who contribute to society. In doing so, we better ourselves, better the game, and better the world.