Pepperdine University School of Law alumnus Richard Cho (JD ’97) was named general manager of the Portland, Oregon, Trail Blazers basketball team on July 19. Cho has worked as assistant general manager of the Seattle Super Sonics/Oklahoma City Thunder for the past nine seasons. Read a recent New York Times article on Cho.
Cho, who holds an engineering degree and a law degree, began as an intern with the Seattle Super Sonics in 1995 during the summer after his first year of law school. After completing another internship with the team and while studying for the Washington State Bar Exam, Cho began working full time for the Super Sonics in 1998. When the franchise moved to Oklahoma City, Cho moved with them, working his way up to assistant general manager.
As general manager for the Blazers, Cho hopes to lead the team to greater prominence and a stronger presence within the NBA. "Portland's definitely come a long way, but I think there's room for improvement," Cho said in an interview with ESPN.
In a statement, Blazers owner Paul Allen, the cofounder of Microsoft, said, "Rich has depth of character, a foundation in business and legal matters and a knowledge of the game of NBA basketball that will help our team get even better. He is part of the new generation of NBA executives."
The first Asian-American general manager in NBA history, Cho has been setting higher standards for basketball for several years. With the help of two Microsoft programmers, Cho helped design and implement one of the NBA’s most advanced player evaluation systems, which integrates player statistics, scouting information, and contract details.
The Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Cho would bring leadership and balance to the team. “He’s got a lot of versatility to his skill set. He’s going to put in an incredible amount of work and he’s going to think things through and be very analytical about how he approaches decisions. I just think overall he brings a nice balance and he’s going to do wonderful.”
Cho received his undergraduate degree in engineering from Washington State University, before working at Boeing. His earned his law degree from Pepperdine, where he studied sports law, contract negotiation, and dispute resolution.