NBA players invest in their talent “off the court”


For the second year in a row, the NBPA (the union for current professional basketball players in the NBA) is holding “Branding in the Global Economy” at the SDA Bocconi School of Management for current players in the world’s most prestigious basketball league. Headed by Dino Ruta and Luana Carcano, the program is offered by the International Business Academy (IBA), created by the NBPA for its 450 players who increasingly feel the need to gain international insight and experience, in business and management as well.

This year’s participants include Danilo Gallinari (Los Angeles Clippers), Tarik Black (Houston Rockets), Gary Harris (Denver Nuggets), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves), Jarret Jack (New York Knicks), Donatas Motiejunas (formerly of the New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets, now of the Shandong Golden Stars), Damjan Rudez (formerly of the Orlando Magic and Minnesota Timberwolves, now Monaco), Thabo Sefolosha (Utah Jazz) and Julyan Stone (Charlotte Hornets). They hail from five different countries: USA, Italy, the Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Lithuania and Croatia.

“25% of NBA players are not American nationals,” explained Dino Ruta, “and this has an impact on the teams and the players, who need to learn how to be as cross-culturally agile as they are on the court. An athlete who is more conscious and trained can do a better job both in their sports performance and in their career off the court.”

The idea is to give a global view of how to build a successful international brand, “also considering that the players,” emphasized Ruta, “are international brands themselves, with fans scattered around the world”. The IBA was established in 2017 to provide global business training to athletes who live and play in the NBA, an American league that has grown to be truly global, and endorses multicultural values.

“The NBPA chose SDA Bocconi,” continued the professor, “because it sees the business school and, especially, the Sport Knowledge Center created in 2013, as a center of international excellence for the development of sports business and management learning, and Milan as a hub for creativity and the intangible values associated with successful brands.”

The program will consist of a combination of lessons, testimonials and tours. In particular, the players will meet with people from the fashion world (LVMH, Stone Island and EFFEUK), the automotive industry (Automobili Lamborghini) , the food (Ferrero) and coffee (Illy) companies. “The truly new element,” added Ruta, “will be a cultural agility assessment to steer the development of individual skills now and in the months to come, so participants more effectively experience the global aspect of the game and business that they represent.”

Matteo Zuretti, Chief of International Relations and Marketing noted, “We are thrilled to be back at Bocconi after the success of the first IBA. Working with Prof. Ruta and Prof. Carcano over the past few months, not only have we been able to build upon what worked last year, but we have added new elements that we are confident will help the players make the most of the opportunities that the global market provides. Providing customized course design, SDA Bocconi remains the ideal partner for the advancement of the International Business Academy.”


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