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.
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