Alumnus Rich Cho (JD ’97) was named general manager of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Charlotte Bobcats on June 14. Basketball legend Michael Jordan is chairman and majority owner of the team.
Cho was previously GM for the Portland Trail Blazers since July 2010 and was the first Asian American GM in the history of the NBA. Cho got his first break in sports management while at Pepperdine Law, where he interned for the Seattle SuperSonics under GM Wally Walker.
Cho was hired full-time in 1998. When the franchise moved to Oklahoma City, he relocated with the team, working as assistant general manager for nine seasons. “I’ve been really lucky to work for people like Wally Walker and Rick Sund, the GM after Wally, and Sam Presti in Oklahoma City,” said Cho of his early training.
In addition to his law degree, Cho has a degree in mechanical engineering. He is known in the NBA as one of more analytical, data-driven executives. “As an engineer and an attorney, you develop a problem-solving approach on a lot of issues and you learn to think more analytically,” said Cho. “I think the best conversations in this business happen when you’re determined to get something done, whether it’s trying to make a trade or working with a player’s agent. It’s really helpful to put yourself in the other guy’s shoes, and the law helps you do that.”
Cho will assist with the NBA draft on June 23, where the Bobcats have three of the first 39 picks. Cho will report to chairman Michael Jordan.
In a statement, Rod Higgins, president of basketball operations for the Bobcats, said of Cho, “He’ll bring in some concepts and some stats and some analytics that we haven’t done in the past. I think that’s the beauty of it.”
Learn more about Pepperdine Law alumni.