May 28, 2014

Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and Toronto Raptors senior advisor Wayne Embry – the first African American general manager and the first African American team president in all of professional sports -- has been chosen by the governing body of the Global Sports Management Summit to receive its Lifetime Achievement Award for Team Operations at the 2014 Global Sports Management Summit May 27-29 in Chicago. Tom Wilson, President and CEO, Olympia Entertainment and Detroit Red Wings, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in Business Operations. Embry’s award will be presented by Summit governing body co-chair Masai Ujiri, President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors.

Embry and Wilson join previous Lifetime Achievement Award winners Ozzie Newsome, General Manager of the Baltimore Ravens; Bill Polian, former Vice Chairman and President of the Indianapolis Colts; Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment; and Adriano Galliani, Vice President & CEO, AC Milan, in being honored by their peers at the Global Sports Management Summit.

“Wayne Embry epitomizes the ideal of leadership,” said Rick Sund, senior advisor to the NBA Atlanta Hawks, who nominated him for the Lifetime Achievement Award. “He has the unique ability to instill commitment, loyalty and camaraderie in everyone within the organization. The personification of his leadership style is reflected in the impact he has had by mentoring countless young men and women, myself included, in their quest to become high-level executives. In particular, the consistent courage and dignity he has shown along the way have inspired minorities who might never have otherwise aspired to a career in the management side of sports.”

Following his collegiate career as an All-American center at Miami University of Ohio, Embry was a five-time NBA All-Star during his eight years with the Cincinnati Royals and two years with the Boston Celtics, winning a championship ring with the Celtics in 1968. He finished his career as captain of the expansion Milwaukee Bucks in 1969. A year later, he began his front office career with Bucks in 1970, facilitating trades for Oscar Robertson and Bob Boozer that resulted in the team’s sole NBA title in 1971. Anchored by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Bucks put together the highest winning percentage in NBA history to that date and became the earliest expansion team to win a title in any professional sport.

In 1972, when Bucks owner Wes Pavalon elevated him to the position of general manager, Embry became the first African-American general manager in all of professional sports. Following his 15-year tenure with the Bucks, and a year as a consultant with the Indiana Pacers, Embry became VP and general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1986. When he was promoted to the presidency of the team in 1994, he again broke ground as the first African-American president of any professional sports team. During his 15 years with the Cavaliers, he was twice honored as NBA Executive of the Year. He just completed his 10th season as senior advisor to the Toronto Raptors.

In addition to his 55-year NBA career, Embry has been a founder and CEO of his own businesses, a member of numerous corporate and nonprofit boards of directors, and a community activist and mentor for youth in every city where he has lived and worked, shaping and developing opportunities for literally thousands of people.

He is also the author of an autobiography, “The Inside Game: Race, Power and Politics in the NBA” (University of Akron Press, 2004), with Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Embry has been a trustee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame since 1974 and has served on various senior-level committees for the NBA and USA Basketball. In recognition of his career both on the court and in the front office, he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a contributor to the sport in 1999.