My love affair with basketball started when I was only a baby. That was when my dad began carrying me underneath the turnstiles at Madison Square Garden to watch the Knicks. As I’ve grown older and worked throughout my time at USC, I’ve always thought about how I could turn my passion for the game into a career. Despite peaking at 5’11” (on a good day) I made my hoop dreams come true this summer. I interned for the National Basketball Association in the Content Department in New York City.
I began my internship during the most hectic time of year for the league, during the beginning of the NBA Finals. After about three hours in the office, I realized that the scope of the content group was unbelievably large. The department manages all of the TV, web, and social media content for the NBA, both in the U.S. and internationally. We have over 1billion social media likes and followers across platforms in the U.S. and China, and the videos we were making were instantly shared across the globe.
My first big project was to help manage the content coming in during NBA Finals games. At the NBA’s media hub in New Jersey, we kept a running tab of all the raw footage, videos and posts that were coming out of the arena. Editors in NJ would take the footage and create short videos and content that was shared on our social channels and on ESPN and NBA TV. The office during game day was beyond hectic, but it really was organized incredibly well. Everyone knew exactly what they had to do, and we all worked together to make sure everything was tracked and all of the content was well done and had a quick turnaround time.
I also helped work on our mini-movie series. We edited and created 5-minute long recaps of each game using every tool in the NBA Entertainment arsenal, from slow motion shots to interviews. Each video had to be up by the time people got to work the next morning on the East Coast, so I quickly learned to love iced coffee!
Even after the Finals were over the breakneck pace continued. I helped find clips, do background research and cut a feature for the Cleveland Cavaliers Championship DVD. Seeing clips I had found make the final cut of the movie was an incredible feeling! I also worked as a production assistant on several live shoots that we were doing with sponsors and players.
One of my favorite things about my work with content was that I began to expect perfection in all of my work just by spending time with the editors and producers. Seeing how the producers approached their craft, where every camera shot had to be the best it could be, every edit had to be as clean as possible, made me expect all of my work to be at that same level.
That served me really well on our intern think tank project. Towards the second half of the internship we were put into groups and asked to develop a presentation on a new business idea. My team worked with the Global Partnerships department, the group responsible for managing all of our sponsors and selling NBA products across the world. They wanted us to develop a marketing plan centered on holidays in emerging markets. We were tasked to identify holidays where millenials were likely to buy NBA gear, and had to come up with a plan on how to sell to them.
We jumped headfirst into this project, poring over demographic and fan data, spending hours brainstorming, and interviewing NBA employees from Mumbai to Sydney. This project really made me realize just how global the NBA really is, and it was incredible to see how so much of my work this summer had global reach.
Finally towards the end of our internship, we presented our findings to the Global Partnerships department. I can’t give away too many details, but I will say they enjoyed our Bollywood style short film for India! The group project was the last piece of my internship, one that was truly incredible from beginning to end.
I know a big part of the reason why I enjoyed my time with the NBA and succeeded was because I was incredibly prepared for this opportunity. A lot of the credit for that goes to USC. From my work as Sports Director of the USC student radio station, to the internship I got with a social media ad agency after meeting with the CEO on-campus, my experiences at USC put me in the position to succeed at the NBA. From my classes at both the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the Marshall School of Business, I learned how media and content is key in marketing and business. I also learned the skills to make great content. This will hopefully put me in track to be successful after graduation.
I’m really grateful to USC for the opportunities they’ve provided for me, and I could not be more excited to be beginning my senior year. Fight on!
– Russell Simon, Broadcast and Digital Journalism