Charlotte, N.C. (June 14, 2011) – The spotlight on Asian American coaching in the National Basketball Association shifts from Erik Spoelstra – the first Filipino-American to be a head coach an NBA team – to Rich Cho, who was recently hired as General Manager of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Spoelstra is the first Filipino-American to coach an NBA team. At just age 40, he is credited with coaching Miami to three consecutive playoff appearances including the 2011 finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
Cho was named General Manager of Charlotte Bobcats at the same time Rod Higgins was made team president of Basketball Operations on June 14, 2011.
Higgins, who initially joined the Bobcats as the team’s General Manager on May 31, 2007, will continue to oversee all player personnel matters, including professional and collegiate scouting, draft preparations, training camp, preseason scheduling and the team’s athletic training, equipment and conditioning programs.
“Rod’s tireless efforts and leadership have our team and our basketball operations staff moving in the right direction, and the addition of Rich Cho brings another bright basketball mind to our organization,” said Bobcats Chairman Michael Jordan. “In making these moves, I am confident that we will continue to build this team into one that can compete at the elite levels of the Eastern Conference and the NBA.”
As General Manager, Cho will collaborate with Higgins in areas including player acquisitions, salary cap management and compliance with league rules and the collective bargaining agreement.
Cho joins the Bobcats after serving as General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers last season, where he became the first Asian-American general manager in American major league sports. Prior to that, Cho spent the previous 10 seasons as Assistant General Manager of the Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We’re excited to add someone of Rich’s caliber to our front office,” Higgins said. “Over the last decade he has become known as one of the best in the business at analytics and salary cap management, and we look forward to him bringing those abilities to our organization.”
Cho is the third General Manager of the Bobcats, and will enter his first season with the Bobcats in 2011-12. As General Manager, Cho will collaborate with Bobcats President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins in areas including player acquisitions, salary cap management and compliance with league rules and the collective bargaining agreement.
A native of Burma who immigrated to the United States with his family in 1968 when he was three years old, Cho became the first Asian-American general manager in American major league sports when he served as General Manager of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2010-11.
Prior to his stint in Portland, Cho spent the previous 10 seasons as Assistant General Manager of the Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder. Cho entered the NBA as an intern with the SuperSonics in 1995 while earning a law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law.
After serving as a part-time consultant for the SuperSonics in 1997, Cho was hired as the team’s Director of Basketball Affairs in 1998 before being promoted to Assistant General Manager in 2000. A member of the Washington State Bar, Cho also served as Vice President of Legal for the SuperSonics from 2005-07 in addition to his duties as Assistant GM. In that role, he was responsible for all legal work involved with sponsorship agreements, licensing issues, employment contracts and immigration issues.
Following the team’s move to Oklahoma City, Cho also oversaw the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers, and their run to the championship game in 2009-10.
Cho earned an engineering degree from Washington State University and worked as an engineer at Boeing in Seattle from 1989-94 before leaving to enroll at Pepperdine University School of Law in order to pursue his passion in professional sports. His law degree from Pepperdine includes an emphasis in sports law, contract negotiations and dispute resolution.
During his internship with the SuperSonics, Cho, along with two Microsoft programmers, helped design and implement one of the NBA’s most advanced and comprehensive college and professional player-evaluation systems that integrates player statistics, scouting information and contract details.
An avid explorer of restaurants and cuisine, Cho enjoys staying active by playing basketball, tennis, ping-pong and softball in his spare time. He and his wife, Julie, have two daughters, Miranda and Annika.