Greenville College alum and NBA Executive John Hammond returned to campus last week and sat down with local media and Greenville students to discuss his journey to the NBA and what makes a good leader.
It has been a long and successful journey for Hammond, from graduating Greenville College in 1976 until this year as he begins his seventh season as the General Manager of the Milwaukee Bucks.
"It is pretty remarkable when you think about it all. Starting here (Greenville). Going here just opened up a lot of doors related to Greenville...For me I started out wanting to be a coach and the NBA thing was never really a dream." - John Hammond
After graduating from Greenville, and lettering twice in basketball, Hammond's professional career started with a coaching position at Pawnee City High School in Nebraska. After three years at the high school level Hammond joined the coaching staff at the University of Nebraska for two years before moving on to Houston Baptist University for another two seasons. Hammond served as an assistant coach at Missouri State University, helping the team to three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, before leaving the collegiate level for the professional ranks.
In 1989 Hammond joined the Minnesota Timberwolves as an assistant coach and scout before joining the Los Angeles Clippers. Hammond eventually moved on to join the Detroit Pistons, where he spent seven years directing the day-to-day operations of the basketball operations department, handling player personnel issues and assisting in roster development. During his time with the Pistons Hammond was part of a team that made six consecutive trips to the NBA Eastern Conference finals including an NBA Championship in the 2003-04 season. Hammond joined the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008 and was named the 2009-10 NBA Executive of the Year.
"I always tell people looking to get into the business that it is really hard. There are a lot of good people in the league and other still wanting to get in, and I am a lucky one. I tell people it's all about working hard and treating people the right way." - John Hammond
These factors are something that he first developed during his time on the Greenville campus as a student-athlete. The small college atmosphere was a nurturing one that helped Hammond get through the tragic loss of his roommate and basketball teammate.
"You know a lot goes back just to treating people the right way. Back when I was a freshman at Greenville my roommate passed away and I can tell you the people here took me under their wing. And I can truly say if I were at a larger school I probably would not have finished college." - John Hammond
Hammond's success as an executive falls back to his belief in leadership through service.
"For me I try to serve others more than the pounding the fist theory of management. I have had a chance to be around some really good mentors like Joe Dumars. He used to say 'I never judge people how they treat me, I want to see how they treat others'...You know I always tell people in the organization anything I can do to help you, just let me know." - John Hammond
Although Hammond has spent nearly 25 years working in the NBA, winning awards, and running an organization he still remains humble; and often times when things may seem hard he simply reminds himself of his luck and fortune.
"My title is the General Manager and the most important part of the title is general, as in a lot of responsibilities not as in a General. You know it's important to remember that no job is too big, no job is too small. A friend of mine, Brendan Malone, once told me every morning when you wake up, look in the mirror and say this, I am the General Manager of the Milwaukee Bucks. And you know I've done that. You know in tough times, when you are really struggling, I'll do that. It goes back to how lucky I have been to have the opportunity and here I am with one of thirty jobs in the world." - John Hammond