To gain a true understanding of Scott Perry’s desire to create a strong culture inside the Knicks organization, you need to examine his opening statement at the introductory press conference on Monday afternoon.
Perry’s soliloquy did not begin with a detailed plan for the remainder of free agency, trades, or even the style of basketball he hopes to see in NYC. The 53-year old spent his first minutes as the newly named general manager of the New York Knicks to speak about one thing.
“I would not be sitting here without my family,” Perry beamed. “So, I want to introduce everybody to them. First, my wife Kim and my daughter Chelsea, they are the wind beneath my wings. They have stuck behind me on this long journey – my wife for 31 years – I’ve been in the game for over 30 years as a professional in some capacity or another. And, my daughter Chelsea, who is now 22 years old. They have provided me with the love and support that uplifts me during tough times or good times.”
Prior to a career at the executive level in professional basketball, Perry suited up for the Oregon Ducks where he received a scholarship and then completed his college basketball career at Wayne State University in 1986. On the court, Perry’s squad reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight while he earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing off the floor. The Detroit native moved to coaching at the University of Detroit Mercy in 1988 and then became an assistant coach at the University of Michigan. From 1997-2000, Perry finished his final coaching stint at Eastern Kentucky University.
In 2000, Perry pivoted to the executive ranks at the highest level of basketball in the world. Under Joe Dumars, Perry and the Detroit Pistons built a roster that reached six Eastern Conference Finals, racked up two Eastern Conference championships, and captured the 2004 NBA Championship. Perry joined the Seattle Supersonics front office and was part of the staff that selected Kevin Durant. He also worked for the Magic in the front office prior to spending the last three months with the Kings in Sacramento. Serving as the EVP of Basketball Operations, Perry and the Kings were lauded for their offseason from the NBA Draft to free agency in early July.
The path to the Big Apple was due in large part to Perry’s support system as illustrated by his comments regarding his family. The middle child of a sister and brother, Perry pointed to his siblings in attendance at the press conference. He made sure to highlight the long journey to his dream position with the Knicks front office by celebrating his mother, Maxine Perry and his late father, Lowell Perry.
“Between the two of them, they helped raise me to be the man that I am today. To come up in a household where they taught me love, they taught me confidence, they taught me the importance of treating people the way you wanted to be treated. So, I can thank you enough for the love and support and guidance that you guys have given me throughout my life.”
16 years ago, Lowell Perry passed away but his impact on Scott’s life is evident. After a standout football career at the University of Michigan, Perry became a groundbreaker in his post-playing days. In 1957, Perry was named the wide receivers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers; the NFL’s first black coach since World War II. Six years later, Scott’s father was the first African-American plant manager for an American automobile company and in 1975 was the first African-American to broadcast an NFL game.
When referencing his father on Monday, Perry smiled and stated, “So, this is a special, deep moment for me.”
The strength provided by Perry’s family is the building blocks for his next career step and culture approach for the orange and blue.