How to Become an NBA GM (General Manager)

How can I become an NBA GM? There is no definite path to becoming an NBA GM. If becoming an NBA general manager is your dream job, you need to create your own way to achieve that dream.

Being a part of the NBA is the ultimate dream for many basketball lovers today, and the general manager is a desirable role in this game. 

However, the role of an NBA General Manager comes with many responsibilities. You need to work very hard and polish your portfolio to fit into that position.

Considering the league has only 30 teams, becoming a GM in the NBA can be very competitive. Let's get into detail about what it takes to be an NBA GM.

What Does It Mean to be an NBA GM?

Before we head straight to what it takes to become an NBA GM, we should mention who they are.

The GM works closely with the team members to build the team and the structure of the entire organization. The general manager is the organization's brain. They make vital decisions about the organization and team to bring trophies home.

GMs carry extensive authority in the team. They can sign new players, a head coach, assistant coaches, and more. In fact, they even have the power to expel a team player.

how to become an NBA GM

The entire business of the team is in the hands of the GM. They also spend a lot of time managing and organizing the team to ensure everything goes smoothly, especially on match days.

How to Become an NBA General Manager

As we said earlier, one does not have to follow a strict set of rules to become an NBA GM. However, there are certain things you need to do, know, and achieve to have a competitive edge amongst other potential GMs. 

Generally, what people know about NBA teams are the coaches and the players. Yet, some people behind the scene call the shots  – the GMs. Though people may not know them that much, the general manager of an NBA team plays the most crucial role. The GMs are essential to keeping the team coordinated and together. 

It is a highly demanding and respectable position, and there are some basic requirements to fill such a position. Here are the fundamentals of becoming an NBA general manager:

  1. Get a University Degree

Regardless of how much love you have for the game of basketball, it would be almost impossible for you to secure a role as an NBA GM without getting a degree. Hence, the first step to getting your dream job is to get a university degree. 

It would be best to get a bachelor's degree in sports management, marketing, or business administration. A sports management degree will expose you to the different aspects of sports, including the legal, economic, ethical, and social aspects. 

Adding business administration and marketing to the mix will also show that you can handle the organization's business affairs. One of the main focuses of an NBA GM is understanding the business realm. In addition, you should have excellent business management skills.

Your resume would even be more appealing if you add advanced qualifications such as Ph.D. in kinesiology, a Master's degree in sports medicine, or a Ph.D. in human performance. Hence, you could get your degrees in place and have a boost when chasing your dream jobs as an NBA GM.

  1. Love the Game, Play the Game

It's essential but, getting a university degree alone will not get you the job. You need to gain an on-ground, tangible experience of the game.  To do so, you need to love and play the game. You cannot be a GM of an NBA team, or any basketball team, without knowing the sports. 

Moreover, you cannot just play. To have the whole experience, you need to join a team. Joining a team would help you better understand the game and the organizational dynamics.

Thus, you can carry out your duties as a general manager better in the future. Being a team member would also help you develop more contacts, which would come in handy along the lane.

love the game nba gm

Besides that, you might need to create good relationships with NBA stakeholders. Having a reputation for passion, trustworthiness, and transparency among the top ranks would also help. Many NBA general managers are either former coaches or players who got this position based on their good relationships. 

However, even if you do not play the game as a high-level athlete, you should develop a strong passion and love for it. Your passion and love for the game will come in handy on your way to the top.

  1. Improve Scouting Skills

There is no definite list of skills one should have to become an NBA GM. Nevertheless, scouting good players is one skill that will get you the job faster. There's no doubt you should learn the fundamentals of scouting. 

Scouting might not be in your job definition. Nonetheless, as an NBA GM, you need to know everybody's role in your team. You should know what to look for in a good player and a coach. It's necessary to know what role every member plays in the team.


Thus, you can tell whether they are doing the right thing or not. Moreover, you must have scouting skills to have a good scout manager. Some of the best NBA general managers have also worked as scouts at some point.

Related: How to Become an NBA Scout

  1. Better Your Negotiation Abilities

NBA general managers have a wide range of job responsibilities. As we mentioned, besides handling the team's managerial part, they also control the business part. You should have excellent bargaining abilities to succeed in your quest to become an NBA GM. 

Negotiating with coaches, players, and other teams is one of the primary functions of a GM. You have to make various deals, including trade, salary, transfers, games, and more. 

Hence, having good bargaining skills would help you a lot. At this point, a degree in business would come in handy. You need to be capable of handling the organization's business side; else, the job would not be yours.

  1. Other Helpful Qualities to Have

In addition to the points listed above, you need to have other valuable skills. These skills will set you apart from others fighting for the same position. Some of those essential skills include (but are not limited to):

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership qualities
  • Management skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Time management skills

In addition to the listed skills, there are some necessary personality traits. You should be energetic to keep up with this high-tempo job.

Also, you need to be a trustworthy person to handle all those people and the deals comfortably. Last but not least, you must have a disciplined approach to be on top of all your duties.

The Responsibilities of an NBA General Manager 

So far, we've given you a general idea about NBA general managers. However, if you are still uncertain about the roles and duties of an NBA general manager, here are some of them:

  • Leading the Organization 

The general manager of an NBA team is the team's backbone, and they are the brain of the entire organization. All the executive decisions of the team and organization come from their desk. Every minute, hour, and day, you have a series of decisions to make. 

These decisions affect the entire team and organization. Hence, you need to have what it takes to lead an organization, and the skills and qualifications we mentioned can help you get there.

  • Forming the Team

As a GM, one of your primary responsibilities is to put the team together. You need to choose the right players to form a formidable team. The GM is responsible for negotiating with coaches and players.

Hence, you need to have the right skills to put a winning team together and choose the right coach to lead them to victory. At this point, team experience and scouting skills come in handy.

  • Business Management

All the businesses and deals of the organization are the responsibility of the general manager. Remember, the number one reason organizations hire a GM is to make it profitable.

Hence, you need to have revenue generation skills and know-how to manage the team's business very well.

  • Organizing Meetings

The general manager is also responsible for convening regular meetings with the players, coaches, staff, and other board members.

These meetings are usually for the team's betterment and how to move it forward. They discuss the organization's future, introduce new plans to improve the team, and share strategies for implementing the plan.

  • Appointing the Personnel

In addition to handling player transactions, a GM makes other vital decisions about the coaching staff. The GM of the team is in charge of hiring the head and assistant coaches. 

They also have the right to dismiss any coach who is not doing well or failing to meet the team's expectations. They can also hire an accountant or statistician to help with complex financial decisions or rosters.

What Is the Salary of an NBA General Manager?

The average salary of an NBA general manager ranges from $1M to $3M per annum. However, it can vary from team to team.

Also, the experience of the GM can result in a rise in their salary. As a GM, the value you add to the team can significantly boost your yearly earnings.

Wrapping Up: Becoming an NBA GM

The general manager is one of the most lucrative job positions ever at the NBA. However, this role comes with many responsibilities. It is a very competitive role, as there are a few slots for the job. There are no specific rules to becoming an NBA GM, but there are certain things you need to achieve and know. 

The first thing is to have a university degree. Also, you should build upon it with other vital degrees in sports management, business admin, marketing, and other related fields.

Having managerial skills and building healthy relationships in the industry would also help you achieve your dreams of becoming an NBA GM. Last but not least, you should be committed to getting your dream job.

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast