One would be hard pressed to find an NBA franchise that has suffered more setbacks in recent history than the Brooklyn Nets. The majority of the blame, of course, lies with the team’s former general manager, Billy King; under his ill-advised tenure, the Nets gave away eleven first-round picks in exchange for a number of washed-up big-name stars. The results were predictably disastrous – after reaching their only conference semifinals in 2014, the Nets quickly burned out and plummeted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. It was high time for a change in New York City, and it came in the form of a man with an impeccable reputation around the league – the former San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager, Sean Marks.
Following his move to the United States in 1992, the New Zealand native joined the University of California, where he played for four years and served as the team’s captain during his senior season. Unlike most other college players about to hit it big, Marks decided not to forgo his studies; when he left the University in 1998, he left with a degree in political science. While he was drafted in the second round of the 1998 NBA draft, Marks did not see much playing time in his two seasons with the Toronto Raptors that followed. After an unsuccessful ten day tryout with the Seattle Supersonics, he played out the 2000-01 season in Śląsk Wrocław of Poland. That could have easily been the end of his NBA journey; however, Marks was never one to give up that easily.
Having impressed Pat Riley, Marks signed with the Miami Heat in 2001, where he spent the next two seasons. After a knee injury caused him to skip an entire year, he returned in style by signing with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005, where he won his first NBA title. Following the subsequent trips to Phoenix, New Orleans and Portland, Marks retired as the first New Zealand-born NBA player in 2011 having played 2,275 minutes over eleven seasons. In many ways, Marks was the quintessential NBA journeyman; while several short-lived stints with different teams was probably unfulfilling, it did give him an opportunity to observe a number of different organizations and connect with many great leaders.
All the connections he made throughout the years paid off when he got another call from R.C. Buford, the current general manager of the Spurs. Starting off his new career as the director of basketball operations, Sean Marks started moving up the Spurs hierarchy. By 2013, he became an assistant coach and played an integral part in the Spurs winning their fifth NBA title in 2014. Before the start of the following season, Marks decided he wanted to return to the front office and accepted the job of the assistant general manager for the Spurs. During his stay in San Antonio, Marks learned from the very best – R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich. As the Spurs are considered to be the most respected franchise in the entire NBA, this experience proved invaluable and made Marks a top target of many team owners in need of a general manager.