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The Life of an NBA Player Manager

Randy Osei’s dream of playing in the NBA didn’t come to fruition, so he turned to player management.

Oliver Maroney

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The NBA is thriving and, as a business, is more lucrative than ever. While this means more money for the owners, players, executives and coaches within the league, it’s also excellent for individuals like Randy Osei.

Osei works in player branding and management, which is a booming industry these days since players possess a wide variety of ways to earn additional income beyond their NBA contract.

His company, Rozaay Management, counts Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker and Brooklyn Nets forward Anthony Bennett as clients. Osei helps them with marketing, endorsement deals, public relations and much more.

Most player managers have an extremely broad set of skills and they must wear many hats. One night they could be negotiating an endorsement deal, the next they could be helping a player with a community event. Osei’s job is to help his players with whatever they need, which can vary greatly from client to client.

Managers like Osei are often extremely involved in a player’s life and are integral to their success, yet they are unknown to even the most diehard NBA fans. They aren’t visible like the player’s agent and they aren’t in the background like a hanger-on. Instead, they handle a certain set of off-court responsibilities and, in Osei’s case, are paid by the player.

So how does one end up working in player branding and management? A former basketball player with his own goal of playing in the NBA, Osei didn’t initially have this career in mind.

“I just love the game of basketball,” Osei told Basketball Insiders. “I had dreams of playing in the NBA or even overseas professionally. But due to many injuries, I decided that I wanted to impact the game off the court.”

However, that decision wasn’t made overnight. Osei was actually going to college and working toward a degree in Sociology and Psychology, which was taking up most of his time. It wasn’t until he spent a few weeks with Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson that he realized he wanted to take his life in a different direction. In a bold and risky move, he dropped out of school and decided he wanted a career that allowed him to remain around basketball.

“I made up my mind that I wanted to work with NBA players,” Osei said. “I didn’t graduate. Against my Mom’s wishes, I left school early.

“I came into this business as Anthony Bennett’s manager. I am a few years older, but Anthony and I were pretty close after playing on the same AAU team. I learned a lot in my first year with the former No. 1 overall pick. I found a lane where I thought I could excel, and I pursued it. I didn’t know how to get started, so I just took it upon myself to do the thing that many people fail to do: just start. I read everything and anything; Google became my best friend. I decided that I wanted to be more than just Anthony Bennett’s ‘guy.’ After three years, my passion became my full-time job and I haven’t turned back since.”

Since diversifying and working with players outside of Bennett, he’s become very successful. Many players look to him as their go-to guy for marketing, endorsements and event planning. In addition to his full-time work with Bennett and Maker, he has worked on various projects with Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Andrew Wiggins, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon and Indiana Pacers forward Georges Niang among others. With that said, he has also resumed taking online classes toward his degree because he understands how important his education was in getting him to this point.

“Rozaay Management has been great in connecting me with some really cool brands, and has put together some events for me and my brand,” Wiggins said. “Dating back to All-Star Weekend 2015, Randy put together two events to help push my brand at my first All-Star Weekend experience.”

“Randy is great; he has helped me understand that I am not just a basketball player, but I am also a brand myself,” Niang said. “I am very appreciative of the work he has done with me.”

Some of the biggest events involving players have come from Osei’s promotional planning and marketing expertise. He’s built relationships with many NBA agents and players, establishing connections that have yielded opportunities as well as lifelong friendships.

“I’m passionate and want to do the best for everyone,” Osei said. “I am a strong believer in myself and I look to grow a little more each day. Within that growth, I see the importance of growing relationships. My relationships with athletes, entertainers and brands are genuinely organic. This is something that I find very important. Every bridge I gap always works great for both parties. Within that, I am able to cross reference a lot of opportunities.”

Osei is quickly becoming a well-known commodity. He has proven his ability to use social media and word of mouth to plan and promote large NBA-related events. One recent event he hosted in Toronto during the All-Star break had such a huge crowd that he had to turn away some players and celebrities.

“I lived in Cleveland and Minnesota,” Osei said. “I was able to connect with a lot of players. But after moving back to Toronto, I realized I could add another service to my company as a player liaison. When guys came to town, I’d take them around to all the great places in Toronto. All-Star Weekend happened to be in Toronto last year and I said, ‘Why not throw an event on Thursday evening of All-Star Weekend?’ It turned out to be the best event of the entire weekend. The event reached capacity quickly and I ended up having to turn away the likes of Allen Iverson, who happens to be one of my favorite players of all-time. That crushed me.”

Utah Jazz point guard George Hill has used Osei’s liaison business and was satisfied.

“This past year while we took on the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, Randy showed me all the great things to do in my downtime while in Toronto,” Hill said.

Osei, who is always looking to launch new endeavors, recently created a YouTube series called “Rozaay TV” that features NBA players. The series gives a behind-the-scenes look at each player’s life, including their workouts and off-court activities.

Houston Rockets point guard Tyler Ennis, who has known Osei since middle school, was recently featured on the series.

“I’ve known Randy since I was about 13,” Ennis told Basketball Insiders. “I’ve seen the growth from him just being around the game to creating a lane and a business for himself. He works extremely hard on every project that I’ve been involved in. He just gets things done.”

Osei has gone from college dropout to managing numerous off-court endeavors for NBA players. Now, Osei is hoping to use his skill set and relationships to help people who are less fortunate in Ghana, the country where his parents were born.

“In my 26 years of living, I had never gone back to where my parents were from,” Osei said. “The first day I arrived in Ghana, I teared up seeing the place my parents grew up. Driving through the towns and villages, you see the struggles that people have and it truly broke my heart. Every time you stop at a traffic light, kids will walk up to your car to sell you whatever they have.”

While the trip was to visit his parents’ country, he decided he would like to make a difference there and also help spread the game of basketball.

“I got to check out the local basketball talent,” Osei added. “It was awesome to see the sport being so global. Almost all the kids were long and athletic, but lacked the fundamentals of the game. Basketball is not offered in elementary schools or high school, so there is no real development. Nine million dollars a year is dedicated to sports development, but 92 percent of that is dedicated to soccer. My goal is to go back and help change that.”

This is why Osei has been so successful. Not only is he talented at his job, he genuinely cares about the people he comes in contact with, develops meaningful relationships and has a strong desire to help others – whether they’re childhood friends, potential NBA client or those less fortunate than him.

Oliver Maroney is an NBA writer for Basketball Insiders. He is based in Portland and covers the league as a whole.

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Williams, Clippers Will Keep Pushing Through

The Clippers veteran guard chats with Spencer Davies in a one-on-one Basketball Insiders exclusive.

Spencer Davies

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For the second straight year, Lou Williams started his basketball season as a resident of California.

Despite being moved by the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline back in February, it wasn’t a long stay for the 31-year-old in Houston. After bolstering the Rockets’ bench in a big way during their playoff stretch, the organization dealt the veteran guard to the LA Clippers, meaning he was going right back to the City of Angels.

Which begs the question—did he even relocate from his old place?

“Yeah, I moved,” Williams told Basketball Insiders in Cleveland on Friday. “But I ended up moving back into the same neighborhood that I was in, so it was all good.”

The familiarity with the area must’ve been comforting, but playing for three different teams in such a short amount of time can’t be easy. It’s only been 15 games, but he already notices a discrepancy between the two that share the same arena.

“Obviously when you have different people running it,” Williams answered when asked to compare the Los Angeles franchises. “I think the Lakers were in a different space than the Clippers are. The Clippers are a more veteran group, so two completely different atmospheres.”

Winning four straight games to kick off the 2017-18 campaign, the year started out great for he and his new team, but it’s gone downhill in a hurry.

The Los Angeles Clippers are hurting in every way. Literally.

Only halfway through a five-city road trip, they’ve lost eight consecutive games and 10 of their last 11. Key members of their team are absent and they have been plagued by injuries out of the gate.

First, it was international sensation Milos Teodosic who went down with a foot injury in just the second NBA game of his career. Then there’s Danilo Gallinari, whose ailing hip has kept him out of action for two weeks. To top it all off, Patrick Beverley is dealing with a sore right knee that has forced him to miss over a week as well (he’ll reportedly be active on Monday night).

Without the trio, the Clippers are missing a little bit of everything, and Williams is eager for them to return to the floor because of it.

“It’s three starters,” Williams told Basketball Insiders. “One guy’s our heart and soul on the defensive end. We have another guy who was leading us in assists and we have another guy who’s second in scoring.

“Three very important pieces of our team are missing. But we have other guys that’s stepping in doing the best job that they can. We’re just falling short.”

Aside from their most recent 15-point loss to the equally struggling Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center, Los Angeles has competed and been in almost every game during the long skid.

In Cleveland, they led for most of the way until midway through the fourth quarter. It was a back-and-forth affair when the Cavaliers struck back, and once the game went into overtime, the Clippers went cold and ran out of gas.

Taking out the element of overtime, the “close game, but no win” trend has been apparent as they attempt to get over the hump for a victory. Williams sees his team battling. They’re just not getting the outcomes they desire.

“Just continue to push,” Williams said of how LA can climb the wall. “We’ll have a couple of guys back this week from injuries.

“We’ve been playing extremely hard giving ourselves an opportunity to win these games and just haven’t been able to finish. Get guys back, just continue to push. We’ll break through.”

If Williams keeps on producing the way he has, especially as of late, that could be sooner rather than later. Over the last five games, the scoring assassin has put up over 30 points in two of them and 25 in another. In addition, he’s averaged over four rebounds, four assists, and more than a steal per game during the stretch.

When asked about what’s made him so comfortable, he kept it simple.

“Just playing,” Williams told Basketball Insiders.” Taking what the defense gives me and try to make shots. That’s it.”

Williams is special when it comes to how much he can impact a game in the snap of a finger. Over the course of his career, he’s one of those guys that have been able to just go off at any given moment.

“Just continue to play,” he said. “Play [as] hard as I can. I never really think about it until after the game. I just go out there, play [as] hard as I can. Put myself in position to score points and live with the results.”

You can recall Williams being an elite sixth man in this league for just about every team he’s been a part of. Whether it was with the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Lakers, Rockets or even with the Clippers now, he’s constantly been a guy to provide a powerful punch off the bench.

With the consistency and the energy he’s provided with second units throughout his career, it’s rather surprising that Williams has only won the Sixth Man of the Year award one time in his career. Having established this reputation, it should only be a matter of time before he’s rewarded again.

That being said, it’s got to be one of his aspirations, right?

“Not anymore,” Williams told Basketball Insiders, admitting he felt slighted in last year’s race. “Nah. Probably had one of the best seasons of my career and finished third, so I don’t really care no more.”

Furthermore, as one of the top sharpshooters the NBA has to offer, he told Basketball Insiders he doesn’t wouldn’t care to participate in the three-point contest, either.

Moving away from the individual side of things, Williams has enjoyed his time with the Clippers for the short time he’s been a part of the franchise.

One good reason is the opportunity to play under one of the league’s most respected head coaches in Doc Rivers, whom he credits has a unique manner of making adjustments.

“Doc is a high basketball IQ coach,” Williams said. “He knows how to break down the game on the fly, which is impressive. A lot of coaches, they make a lot of corrections at halftime or in film sessions. Doc makes them on the fly, which is great.”

Playing alongside two superstars isn’t so bad. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin are a pairing that can dominate each and every time they step on the floor. In fact, having those two alone should be enough for the Clippers to get things turned back around.

When the frontcourt duo clicks on a nightly basis and the team returns to full strength, Williams believes that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

“It’s been fun,” Williams told Basketball Insiders of the experience with Griffin and Jordan. “Obviously, we would like to win some games and I think that tide is gonna turn once we get back healthy.

“But these two All-Star guys in this league that’s done an exceptional job for this organization—so it’s been a good time being with these guys.”

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NBA AM: All-Time Biggest Comeback Wins

The Warriors’ big 24-point comeback over the weekend was incredible, but where did it rank all time?

Joel Brigham

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One of the biggest NBA stories of the weekend was the Philadelphia 76ers scoring 47 points against the Golden State Warriors in the first quarter Saturday night, only to blow their 24-point lead in fairly embarrassing fashion.

Kevin Durant joked about not being able to lose to Philadelphia for fear for Joel Embiid peacocking on Twitter afterward, while Embiid wrote about taking the loss in stride, adding “blowing a big lead” to their arsenal of experiences to avoid repeating in games to come.

In any event, that 24-point comeback was one of the most impressive comebacks in NBA history, though the good news for the Sixers is that there have been bigger blown leads than their own. Some of them much, much bigger. Heck, the Miami HEAT blew a 25-point lead just two weeks ago, so crazier things have happened.

The following are those crazier things. These are the biggest blown leads in NBA history:

#5 Boston Celtics vs. L.A. Lakers (2008) – By the time Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals had started, the Celtics had taken a 2-1 lead in the series, and the pivotal Game 4 was going to go down in Los Angeles. From the get-go, the Lakers looked like they were going to tie the series with little problem, jumping out to a quick 26-7 lead and finishing the first quarter up by 21 points. The lead got as large as 24 at one point, with L.A. still holding a 20-point lead with six minutes left in the third quarter.

But Boston ripped off a 21-3 run to finish the third quarter, cutting the lead to two and making it a much more exciting game than the first two-and-a-half quarters suggested. Their spirits broken, L.A. lost the game and, eventually, the series.

#4 Utah Jazz vs. Portland Trail Blazers (2010) – The Jazz came into Portland for this February game back in 2010 without starting center Mehmet Okur, whose absence was felt immensely as the Jazz fell into a 25-point deficit, trailing by 23 halfway through the third quarter. After chipping away at that lead throughout the fourth quarter, Utah still faced a four-point hole with just 30 seconds to go in the game, but Deron Williams made a couple of free throws, the Jazz got a stop on the defensive end, and Carlos Boozer put-back a last-second miss to send the game into overtime, where the Jazz put the finishing touches on the remarkable comeback win.

#3 Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Dallas Mavericks (2008) – The Minnesota Timberwolves in 2008 were not good. Still rebuilding post-Garnett, they had no business jumping out to a massive lead over the much more talented Dallas Mavericks, but that’s exactly what happened. The mediocre Wolves built a seemingly insurmountable 29-point lead, but as it happens, the lead was in fact quite mountable, as the Mavericks ripped into that lead thanks in large part to 24 second-half points by Jason Terry. With a seven-point victory, the Mavericks pulled off an impressive 36-point turnaround, albeit against one of the league’s worst teams.

#2 Sacramento Kings vs. Chicago Bulls (2009) – In one of the most stunning comebacks in league history, the Sacramento Kings rallied from being down 79-44 with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter to demoralize a Bulls team that flat-out didn’t see it coming. Sacramento finished the quarter on a 19-5 run to cut the lead to 19, then got it down to 95-91 with 2:28 left in the game. Rookie Tyreke Evans outscored the entire Bulls’ team 9-3 the rest of the way, and the comeback was complete. All of this was in Chicago, and the city’s fans literally booed the Bulls off the court. Needless to say, that was Vinny Del Negro’s last season as head coach in Chicago.

#1 Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz (1998) – In the midst of a seven-game winning streak, a Jazz team featuring Karl Malone and John Stockton did not enter this contest against Denver in 1998 expecting to fall into a 36-point deficit. The score was 70-36 at halftime with the lead expanding further in the third quarter, but that’s when Utah started to grind their way into the lead behind big nights from Malone (31 points) and Jeff Hornacek (29 points). Despite it being a record-breaking comeback, there was no one big remarkable moment. Rather, the Jazz just dismantled the Nuggets through attrition over the course the second half en route to a truly impressive come-from-way-behind victory.

The fact that teams have come back from deficits this huge is exactly why current NBA teams talk about never taking the foot off the gas. Almost no lead is safe, and that’s the beautiful thing about basketball. Sometimes the momentum shifts, and all that planned Twitter bragging goes right down the tubes. At least in Philadelphia’s case the team on the other end of the comeback was the defending champs.

And as this list proves, it could always be worse.

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NBA Sunday: Raptors Aren’t Extinct Just Yet

The Celtics should be a concern to the Cavaliers, but the Raptors shouldn’t be overlooked, either.

Moke Hamilton

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The Toronto Raptors aren’t extinct—not yet, anyway.

With the whirlwind of movement that dominates the headlines this past NBA offseason and the growth of several young players, we’ve spent far more time discussing the likes of the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks than the team from up North.

We’ve asked ourselves whether LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers can win the Eastern Conference for a fourth consecutive year and whether or not the Washington Wizards are finally ready to give some credible resistance. Some of us have even gone as far as to predict that, in the ultimate irony, Kyrie Irving will lead the Celtics to the conference crown this season.

And that doesn’t even begin to talk about the storylines from out West.

All the while, quietly and meticulously, Dwane Casey and his Raptors have stalked, and you peer at the standings and realize that they enter play on November 19 at 10-5, tied with the Pistons for the second-best record in the conference.

What has made the Raptors thriving especially improbable is the fact that they’ve done it despite missing a few key contributors for a game or two. To this point, they have ranked respectably both in points allowed per game (102.6) and points allowed per 100 possessions (107.8). Those metrics rank them eighth and 11th, respectively.

So, where exactly do the Raptors fit in the grand scheme of things?

It seems like a question we’ve been asking for a few years now.

* * * * * *

Having qualified for the playoffs four consecutive years, Dwane Casey’s team has won three playoff series over the course of that duration, but haven’t exactly found timely and efficient play from their two star players in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

Now, as the Eastern Conference begins to feature younger players with appreciable upside—Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis, Ben Simmons and Jaylen Brown to name a few—it’s totally fair to wonder where the Raptors fit in. It’s also fair, believe it or not, to wonder whether they’ll be able to provide as much resistance to the Cavaliers as the Celtics.

In effect, the Raptors have become a modern day version of Joe Johnson’s Atlanta Hawks. After signing with the Hawks prior to the 2005-06 season, Johnson led the revival of the franchise. They would end up qualifying for the playoffs five consecutive years, but never advanced past the second round. A similar story can be told of Chris Paul’s Los Angeles Clippers.

The point is, however, that over the years, the Raptors have developed an identity and are a team whose hallmarks have come to be toughness and ball-sharing—two characteristics that most coaches would love to embody their team. While we’ve been paying close attention to the things that are brand new and exciting, the Raptors are the same old crew that they have been. And for a team like that, the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks will continue to be the gold standard.

The Mavericks notably rebuilt and tore down several incarnations of their team around Dirk Nowitzki until the team was finally able to surround Nowitzki with the right complement of players to score one of the biggest upsets in NBA Finals history.

Whether anyone chooses to acknowledge it, the Cavaliers are vulnerable.

Entering play on November 19, LeBron James leads the league in both total minutes played (617) and minutes played per game (38.6). Of the players who will comprise James’ supporting rotation in the playoffs, the majority of them are players whose impact will be mostly felt on one side of the floor: offense. To this point, the Cavs have 10 different players averaging 20 minutes played per game—an incredibly high number. More than anything else, that’s a result of Tyron Lue playing with his rotations to figure out which units work best, while also taking into account that the team has been playing without both Tristan Thompson and Derrick Rose for long stretches.

Still, of those rotation players—James, Rose, Thompson, J.R. Smith, Kevin Love, Jae Crowder, Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver and Jeff Green—the simple truth is that it is only James who has performed like a true two-way player.

It’s a troubling trend upon which the Raptors—and other teams in the conference—could capitalize.

The best two words to describe the Cavaliers to this point in the season are “old” and “slow,” and that’s simply a fact. The club still ranks dead last in points allowed per 100 possessions and 28th in the league in points allowed per game.

In short, the Cavaliers, at least to this point, have certainly appeared to be vulnerable. It is those same Cavaliers that have ended the Raptors season each of the past two years.

You know what they say about third times—they’re often the charm.

* * * * * *

There’s obviously a long way to go, and any chance that Toronto would have to get past the Cavs rests in the ability of Lowry and DeRozan to find some consistency in the playoffs. Still, as the complementary pieces around them have slowly improved, we have spent the early goings of the season fawning over the brand news teams and storylines in the conference and have paid no attention to the old guard.

And depending on how the brackets play out, any Cavaliers foray in the conference finals might have to go through the familiar road of Toronto.

If that happens to be the case—if the Cavs do have to square off against their familiar foe—they’re ripe for the picking.

Just as they have been over the past few years, the Duane Casey’s team will be there waiting for their opportunity.

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