He's got the crisp, expensive suit, the ready-made smile and the superagent savvy. But new Warriors general manager Bob Myers, it turns out, is hardly the type.
"A sports agent in Los Angeles? You can easily get lost in that whole deal," admits the East Bay native.
Unless you're Myers. Far from a fast-talking slickster who overtakes a room with ego, the Arn Tellem protege has a reputation for being honest, no-frills and down to earth. Though he spent 17 years in L.A., it was here that he developed the art of the humble grind -- work extra hard, be good to people and focus on the process more than the goal.
The formula has never betrayed him. It carried him from anonymous scrub as a freshman at Monte Vista High-Danville to a senior good enough to share a court with the likes of Brent Barry and Mark Madsen. It helped him develop from a lanky freshman at a UCLA walk-on tryout to a respectable contributor for a powerhouse program as a senior. It saw him rise from a nameless intern under Tellem to a super agent and Tellem's right-hand man.
Whether it works, whether he has what it takes to turn around Golden State's snake-bitten franchise, remains to be seen. But Myers said the same formula will be employed now that he's general manager.
"One thing about Bob is that he's remarkably grounded," Tellem said. "He's the same person who grew up in the East Bay. The position of success hasn't changed him. He carries with him humility and grace
Of course, Myers would like to add a lottery pick to that formula for bringing success to his childhood team. It will require a bit of luck Wednesday night in New York, where he will represent the Warriors at the NBA draft lottery. If the Warriors land the No. 7 pick or higher, they will get to keep that first-round pick. If they do not, the pick goes to Utah.
Considering the Warriors have several holes to fill -- backup big men, bench depth, maybe an upgrade at starting small forward -- having a top-seven draft choice would be a big break for the start of the Myers regime.
Making his breaks
Big breaks are nothing new to Myers. But those who know him well say he makes those breaks himself, thanks to a reputation as a stand-up guy with a work ethic who relates well to others.
"He's one of the greatest human beings I've ever coached," said Jim Harrick, Myers' coach at UCLA. "There are only about four or five people I put in that category in 40 years of coaching."
In March 2011, he was introduced to Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob by Danny Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations. Ainge knew Lacob was looking into options to run the Warriors' basketball operations and connected Lacob and Myers. A month later, Myers was introduced as Golden State's assistant general manager and deemed head basketball honcho of the future.
One year later, Lacob determined the future is now. Myers -- who regularly plays pickup hoops with staff members and remains far more accessible than most professional sports executives -- had displayed the exact traits Lacob was banking on.
But the decision doesn't come without risk. Myers, the second-youngest G.M. in the NBA at 37, has been given the keys to the Warriors' kingdom despite having just a year of front office experience. His basketball knowledge is, at the very least, untested. And since he's taking over a franchise with just one playoff appearance since 1994, he'll be under tremendous pressure from a fed-up fan base.
"Until you've worked with someone, you never really know," Lacob said. "Working with Bob, he's outstanding. He has all the capabilities to do this and be really, really good at it."
According to a few Warriors insiders, Myers was a big reason Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (Myers' former client) signed an offer sheet with Golden State in December. It was an example of Myers' ability to relate to players, of why he is, as coach Mark Jackson said, a "cool G.M."
"He's going to keep it real," said 14-year veteran Antawn Jamison, an ex-Warrior whom Myers formerly represented. "He's not going to sugarcoat it for you. He's going to tell you when you need to stop crying and get out there and play."
He also has shown off another key asset: his connections. As an agent, Myers' negotiations were not antagonistic. That has its rewards now. As the general manager, no teams are off limits because of a burned bridge. At every level -- owner, general manager, players -- Myers' call will be answered.
And Myers is known for his dialing.
"He's literally known as the one who's on his phone 24/7," said Kirk Lacob, Myers' newest assistant general manager. "There are people in the office who say they have never seen him not on the phone."
Hard work pays off
Myers' break into the agent business was similar to how he landed with the Warriors. His senior season at UCLA, he went into Harrick's office and made it known he wanted to work in sports. Harrick said he couldn't promise anything but he would call the Lakers and Clippers. But he left Myers with a suggestion: Meet with Tellem.
"I said I didn't know if I wanted to be an agent," Myers said. "There's a negative connotation to it. Right or wrong, there just is. I didn't know anything about it. I wasn't getting recruited by agents, I didn't know any agents. I didn't know what they did, what it was about."
Harrick sold Tellem enough to get Myers an internship in 1997, a position no doubt a million college grads would have loved to land. Raving about Myers came easily to Harrick. Myers hardly played for UCLA's 1995 NCAA championship team and never amounted to more than a role player during his four-year career with the Bruins. Still, Harrick grew to favor Myers, the kid he picked out of a tryout of 40 hopefuls and watched develop into an appreciative role player and model citizen.
"Right away I knew he was a great leader," Harrick said. "The kids were just attracted to him. Everybody liked the guy. He was a hard worker who earned the respect of everybody on the team. You could tell he was going to be a highly successful guy from the beginning."
Tellem grew to feel the same way. After a year, Myers was hired.
Myers said he worked from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with Tellem before heading downtown to Loyola Law School for night classes. If the Lakers or Clippers were playing, he would get over there in time to visit with clients after the game.
"Jamison gave me a big Warriors gray sweatshirt," Myers said. "I'd wear it to law school every night -- and get abuuuused. They said, 'You live in L.A. Why don't you just be a Lakers fan?' I said I'm a Warriors fan. I'm not going to change."
It makes sense that Myers couldn't sever his Golden State ties. They're too connected to his youth spent in Alamo, back when his passion and hustle outshined his skill set. Back when he and his dad would go to Warriors games and admire the grit of Larry Smith. The Warriors big man averaged double-digit points only once during his nine seasons with the Warriors, but he was Myers' favorite because he "exuded effort."
Jeff Koury, Myers' coach at Monte Vista, acknowledged Myers was a short, skinny kid. But Koury said that as a sophomore, Myers "fell in love with the weight room." A growth spurt between Myers' sophomore and junior seasons, plus his work ethic and continually developing skills helped Myers become someone you wanted on your team.
"He always had that real (Dennis) Rodman type of mindset for rebounding," Koury said. "Then he started developing as a player. By his senior year, he was a great high school player."
Myers is back in the same position -- the unknown commodity working to show he belongs. And the Warriors are happy to give him a place to work his gritty magic.
"For me," Myers said, "it was never really about getting the end result. It was 'work, work, work hard' and if I don't get exactly what I want, my hard work will pay off in some way."