1994: M.S.S. Sports Management
Dennis Lindsey had planned nearly 18 years ago when he earned his master’s degree at the United States Sports Academy to one day coach NCAA Division I basketball.
Then an assistant coach at Pensacola Junior College, he instead took a position with the Houston Rockets as a video coordinator and scout in 1996. The entry-level job was a foot in the door at the NBA.
Today, the 43-year-old Lindsey is a general manager with the Utah Jazz where he will work to finally bring an NBA championship to Salt Lake City. Lindsey earned the job in August after serving as the San Antonio Spurs’ vice president and assistant GM the past five years.
“I am very excited to be here in Utah and working for the Jazz organization,” says Lindsey, who was the Academy’s 2005 Alumnus of the Year. “I was a high school coach and then became a junior college assistant and envisioned one day becoming a Division I head coach. That is the path I felt I was following until an opportunity presented itself which took me in a different direction, and that has led me to where I am today.”
Lindsey will work closely with highly successful Kevin O’Connor, who handled the day-to-day operations as the Jazz general manager the past 13 years. O’Connor is remaining Utah’s executive VP of basketball operations responsible for all big-picture aspects of the organization.
While he prepares to help the Jazz make it to the NBA playoffs again this year, Lindsey stopped and spoke with the Alumni Network about his new job and the hard work it takes to get there.
Alumni Network: What makes the Utah Jazz general manager job a good one for you over maybe other GM posts you had considered?
Dennis Lindsey: The Utah Jazz and Salt Lake community just seemed like an ideal fit for both me and my family. The franchise’s winning culture and solid infrastructure, the commitment from the Miller family, and passionate fan base have consistently made the Jazz one of the premier teams in the NBA. Combine the career opportunities here with the fact that it is a beautiful, family-friendly area and it really was not a very difficult decision. I am very excited to be here in Utah and working for the Jazz organization.
Alumni Network: What’s your relationship with former GM Kevin O’Connor coming into the new job and your expectations of working together?
Dennis Lindsey: Kevin and I had a friendly relationship before that had developed over the years as a result of running into each other scouting games or at league meetings, grabbing the occasional dinner or periodically exchanging phone calls.
Kevin has always had a great reputation around the league and is very well-respected. In my opinion, Kevin and the Jazz organization have done an outstanding job in transitioning the team from the John Stockton/Karl Malone days to Deron Williams/Carlos Boozer and now to a team that has some very good young veterans and several talented younger players while maintaining flexibility and remaining competitive.
I really feel fortunate to be the general manager of the Utah Jazz and look forward to the opportunity to work closely with Kevin on a regular basis. His experience and expertise will continue to be a real asset to the organization.
Alumni Network: What can you tell other assistant junior college basketball coaches out there who want a career in the NBA?
Dennis Lindsey: First off, I have been very blessed. I was a high school coach and then became a junior college assistant and envisioned one day becoming a Division I head coach. That is the path I felt I was following until an opportunity presented itself which took me in a different direction, and that has led me to where I am today.
The biggest advice I can provide is to work hard, be honest and treat people the right way. There are opportunities out there that will present themselves if you are willing to put in the work and pay your dues. You can’t skip steps and expect to succeed. No matter what the level, take pride in what you do and do it to the best of your abilities.