This NBA GM Started Out in a Reno Casino

Despite never having been a player or coach in the NBA, Chris Wallace has risen to become the general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies. This is a rare feat for the league because GMs must be excellent at evaluating talent. And one interesting tidbit about Wallace beyond his non-basketball pedigree is that he got his […]

chris-wallace-casino-to-grizzliesDespite never having been a player or coach in the NBA, Chris Wallace has risen to become the general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies.

This is a rare feat for the league because GMs must be excellent at evaluating talent. And one interesting tidbit about Wallace beyond his non-basketball pedigree is that he got his start working in a casino.

“I dropped out of the University of Kansas, and I moved to Reno, Nevada to work in casinos for eight months, mainly as a change boy for the slots,” said Wallace.

“I worked at the Sands, I also worked at the Club Cal Neva. And luckily I got out of the change boy occupation because, as I walk through casinos now, that’s basically been mechanized out of existence.”

Wallace is right about the disappearance of change boys because casino slots operate on ticket systems now. But he was able to figure out that he wanted to do something with basketball, long before casinos phased this position out.

reno-casino“While I was there, I quickly realized that the whole casino racket wasn’t my thing,” he told HoopsHype. “I’ve always been a basketball junkie forever and played all the time when I was a kid. Read all of the preseason books every year, the Street & Smiths, the Athlons.”

Wallace borrowed $18,000 and started his own basketball magazine (Blue Ribbon College Basketball Book), selling up to 12,000 copies per month from his parents’ basement.

Eventually, he found part-time work in the NBA, then became the Director of Player Personnel for the Boston Celtics.

By the 2007-08 season, Wallace was hired as the general manager of the Memphis Grizzlies. Since that time, he’s put together a team that’s made the playoffs six straight seasons – despite numerous injuries.

This being said, it’s interesting to see that a top-flight GM got his start changing over slot machines in Reno casinos.

 

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