Headline NBA Players Sports Agents

How To Become An NBA Agent – Bernie Lee’s Path

Bernie Lee is the President of Lee Basketball Services Ltd., a full-service basketball agency specializing in representing basketball players overseas. Bernie is certified by the NBPA and is based out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. An interview between he and Darren Heitner can be found here.

A common question for those interested in becoming an agent is “How do I become one [an agent]?” If you ask 10 different agents their career progression, I am sure that you will receive at 10 different stories with each one having the underlying theme of “there is no one path.” For those interested, learning as much as you can about different agents and different ways to break into the industry is very beneficial. Bernie Lee has documented his path to becoming an NBA agent in a story for HoopsHype.

Lee grew up playing the game of basketball and saw it as a way of life. He realized early on that he could talk about the game better than he could play it, but used basketball to identify as an individual. It became a tool he used to go to college and see the world. The son of immigrants, Lee was the first in his family to go to college. He still wanted to be involved in basketball, and thought that he was best suited for a career in coaching. To build his network (which is key for anyone trying to work in sports) and immerse himself in the sport, he worked at the Five Star Basketball Camp every summer. Being a Canadian citizen,  he would need a visa to work in the United States, where he believed the entry-level jobs in basketball were, so his option at the time was the Toronto Raptors.

As one currently navigating the job hunt, I have been told time and time again that a major contributing factor is timing. It seems that Bernie Lee’s career path was reliant on timing as well. The one major event that he contributes to his career as an agent is a phone call with then newly named Raptors head coach Kevin O’Neill. He was connected to the coach through Five Star Basketball Camp director Howard Garfinkel, who instructed him to call O’Neill a month later to touch base. Needless to say, the call does not go as expected or hoped. In fact, it went terribly.

Around the same time, Lee was introduced to an agent, with whom he built a relationship and was offered to work for him as an intern. From there, the rest seems to be history.

“I am often asked about how to become an agent and I never quite know how to answer the question, but having just written this I am now going to tell people to call Kevin O’Neill’s secretary and leave a message telling him that you were told to call for a job and when he returns the call, just go from there…”

You can read the whole story here, and follow Bernie Lee on Twitter at @bleebasket