The Mavericks appear to be taking an unconventional route in hiring their next general manager.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that the team is “progressing” on an agreement to bring Nico Harrison to Dallas as its next president of basketball operations. Wojnarowski also reports that Jason Kidd is close to becoming the Mavs’ new coach.
While Kidd is familiar to Mavericks fans, Harrison is not. In fact, the Nike executive doesn’t have any NBA experience, so it would seem that owner Mark Cuban is taking a leap of faith by hiring him.
So, who is Nico Harrison? Here’s what to know about him as he prepares to make the transition from being one of the top people at Nike to being the head honcho in Dallas’ front office.
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Who is Nico Harrison?
Harrison told Carol Schmidt of MSU News in 2016 that he was hired by Nike as an NBA representative on April 2, 2002.
He began his career with the company as a Southwest U.S. marketing rep, working to promote stars like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but in his second year at the company he became the marketing liaison to Kobe Bryant.
Harrison developed a strong relationship and friendship with Bryant, and his work to revamp Bryant’s image helped him climb the ladder at Nike. He has cultivated relationships with NBA players during his time as a marketing manager.
In more recent years, Harrison has put himself on the NBA map with his connections to players. According to ESPN’s Tim McMahon, Harrison has a strong relationship with Mavericks star Luka Doncic and has been pursued by other teams for front-office roles.
Sources: Mavs have had discussions with longtime Nike executive Nico Harrison about joining the Dallas front office. Harrison has strong relationships with players throughout the NBA — including Luka Doncic — and has been pursued for front office jobs by other teams.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 25, 2021
Harrison had remained at Nike in spite of that interest, but now it appears that he’s ready to jump to the league.
Lakers forward Jared Dudley said it would be “a big play” if the Mavericks could land Harrison.
Harrison is an outside-the-box option, but if Doncic and other players across the league are as confident in Harrison as Dudley appears to be, then the move could pan out. Either way, Cuban seems willing to give the Harrison-Kidd pairing a go.
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Did Nico Harrison play professional basketball?
Harrison did play basketball professionally. He never made it to the NBA, but he played in Europe for seven years after his college career ended.
In college, he played one season at Army before transferring to Montana State. He averaged 11.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game during his four-year collegiate career (1993-96).
Harrison helped lead Montana State to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1996 with the Bobcats winning the Big Sky Tournament. They were eliminated by Syracuse and haven’t been to the tournament since.
“He was widely known as the best defensive player in the league,” Bill Lamberty, MSU’s assistant athletic director for media, said of Harrison.
Harrison was inducted into the Bobcat Hall of Fame in 2016.