Hoop Dream Comes True
by David E. Nathan
Who says you need height, leaping ability and a consistent jump shot to make it big in the National Basketball Association?
Michael Gliedman ’85 has carved out an 11-year career for himself at the top of the hoop world by relying more on his knowledge of high-tech computers than high-post offenses.
As a senior vice president and the league’s chief information officer, he oversees a team of about 100 employees responsible for all aspects of the NBA’s global information technology. Among their tasks is collecting statistical data and high-quality video from every game for the league’s award-winning websites, which attract 50 million unique visitors and 150 million video views a month.
Gliedman’s customers include basketball aficionados from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. There’s the Dirk Nowitzki fanatiker in Munich who visits NBA.de (one of 15 international versions of nba.com) in search of info about the German star; the league marketing executive seeking every video clip of Lakers superfan Jack Nicholson for a promotional campaign; and the Celtics assistant coach hoping for a detailed analysis of Kevin Garnett’s assist-to-turnover ratio against the Knicks.
“It’s exciting to be a part of the growth of this place,” Gliedman said during an interview at his office in Secaucus, N.J., a long outlet pass across the Hudson River from the league headquarters in New York. “Everything has gotten bigger and more complex. We’ve kept pace technically alongside the growth of the Internet.”
For a 1970s Seattle SuperSonics and New York Knicks fan who grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y. (where he still lives with his wife, Jennifer ’86, and their two children), working at the NBA is a don’t-wake-me-up-and-tell-me-this-is-a-dream experience. “I realize that few people get to do this — combine their love of sports with their occupation,” Gliedman said. “I know how fortunate I am.”
While most of his time is spent in the office, Gliedman travels to the occasional game and large, premiere events such as the All-Star Game and the NBA Finals.
Gliedman joined the NBA in 1999 from Viacom, where he served as senior vice president of application development for MTV and Showtime. There, too, Gliedman — who as a student played guitar in the Brandeis band Occasional Sax, and continues to perform in New York with the rock group Element4 — had the chance to combine vocation and avocation, melding his musical and technical talents.
“At MTV I had one piece of the technology, while here at the NBA I’m doing it all,” Gliedman said. “NBA Commissioner David Stern has always pushed technology as a big part of what we do. He’s made it clear that we want to be on the digital cutting edge.”
Gliedman didn’t expect to work in the high-tech field after graduation. He came to Brandeis planning to study economics, but when his roommate suggested he take a class in the then-fledgling computer science program, he found it was a better fit with his personal interests and talents.
Indeed, it turned out to be a slam dunk.