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The exhausting nature of a basketball lifer

Bob Myers is tired.

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Bob Myers in the stands in front of fans dressed in playoff shirts Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

When I think of Bob Myers, who recently announced his resignation after more than a decade as the Golden State Warriors general manager, one image comes to my head.

It was a few years ago, and I was standing in the ramp that heads to the underground garage at the artist then known as Staples Center. It was the morning of a game between the Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers, and media availability for shootaround was starting soon.

On game nights there’s a whole setup for the media. There’s a special entrance for media members at the arena that feeds you straight down a set of stairs and onto the court or into the media room — no crowds, no lines, no waiting. There are multiple people assigned solely to letting media members into the arena. If you let your mind wander for a few moments, you almost feel like you’re Jack Nicholson, getting the special treatment.

On game mornings it’s different, at least at Staples. The media entrance is closed. One lone employee is responsible for letting the team bus and a few members of the organization drive into the subterranean garage, just a 30-second walk from the court, and also for letting the credentialed media members walk down the ramp on foot.

I was emptying my pockets to walk through the metal detector when a Land Rover came careening around the corner like something out of a Fast and the Furious film, and came to a screeching halt at the parking lot barrier.

I looked up. Bob Myers was at the wheel.

Myers gave the security guard/parking attendant a look as if to say, “what the hell is this barrier doing here?” and the guard/attendant gave him a look back as if to say, “who the hell are you?” The guard told Myers that the parking lot was only for members of the team, not media. Myers told the guard that he was with the team. The guard asked for a badge or credential. Myers — polite, but clearly irked — said he didn’t have one.

They went back and forth for a few seconds before Raymond Ridder — a first ballot sports PR Hall of Famer — came running up the ramp, looked at the guard incredulously, and yelled, “that’s my GM! Let him in!”

The parking lot barrier was raised and Myers slammed the pedal to the metal, drag racing his way into a parking spot some 250 feet away.

The image has stuck with me because it was borderline cartoonish. Myers looked like Wile E. Coyote, running a million miles an hour in one direction and then a million miles an hour in the other direction.

It painted the picture of a relentlessly hectic job. Which, it turns out, is exactly what it is.

If a shootaround shows one scene, a very different one is on display 12 hours later. In the underground hallway behind the court, a massive congregation forms after games: media members, family members, a few special guests and celebrities, countless arena employees trying to put away equipment in hopes that they’ll be home by midnight.

There are usually two havens from this crowd, which can at times resemble Disneyland. There’s the locker room and there’s the coach’s room.

Wander into the former and you’ll find the Warriors players relaxing after a warm shower, changing into comfy clothes, playing music, and laughing with each other. Wander into the latter and you’ll find the coaching staff, already having swapped their formal attire for sweats, sharing their trademark postgame beer — almost always a Modelo.

Myers belonged to neither group. Not because he didn’t get along with them — he has a tremendous relationship with Steve Kerr, and I’d venture that no GM in the league has the type of relationship with their star players that Myers had — but because that’s the nature of the job.

A GM is like the oldest sibling coming home from college at the holidays. They don’t belong at the kid’s table, but they don’t belong at the grown up’s table, either.

He’ll bounce into the locker room for a serious conversation with a player. He’ll head to the coach’s room to discuss something with Kerr. He’ll wander into the hall and meet with a player’s family briefly or, more likely, with Joe Lacob or a high-profile media member. He’ll stay in his suit the entire time.

Myers has spent his entire life in basketball. He finished his fourth and final season at UCLA in 1997, then started an internship with a sports agency that year. By 2000 he was the vice president of that same company. In 2011 he joined the Warriors. In 2012 he was promoted to general manager. Somewhere along the way he added “president” to his already overflowing resume.

He’s 48 now. That’s a whole lot of years dedicated to the sport. It’s a lot of games. A lot of practices. A lot of flights. A lot of phone calls.

Being a GM is a thankless job. Sure, it doesn’t come with the physical exertion of being a player. And you deal with a much colder seat and more favorable headlines than a coach.

But it’s thankless. While the players head to Bora Bora to rest up and recharge, you prepare for the draft and free agency. While the coach hands Summer League coaching duties to a lower-level staffer, you brave the Vegas heat to scour your own prospects and other teams’. While everyone rests up for a game, you field calls from the team owner.

When Myers announced his decision to step down, Lacob seemed almost giddy as he said they talked “five to 20” times a day. That’s a lot of times to talk to anyone, let alone to a caricature of what it looks like to sprinkle gold-plated cocaine on your morning Cheerios.

There are no off days as an NBA GM. No vacations. No weekends. It’s just work. Myers has spent his whole life in basketball, working. He’s a lifer, and it climaxed with a decade spent at the top of the ladder.

We may never fully understand why he decided to step away from a dynasty that he helped build. But I’d bet he’s damn exhausted.

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