Most Powerful African Americans in Sports

Think you know who the real players are? Forget those who earn millions on the field. Here's our all-star list of entrepreneurs and executives (OK, and a couple of athletes) who drive the sports industry.

His own playing career included 19 seasons as a first baseman and designated hitter for the Braves, Red Sox, Astros, and the Yankees. Watson gained valuable front-office experience as general manager for both the Astros and Yankees. Highlight Reel: In 1993, while with the Astros, Watson made history when he became the first African American general manager in MLB.”

Rod Graves, Vice President of Football Operations, Arizona Cardinals, 46: “Graves was named to this newly created position in 2002 and assumed responsibility for all facets of the Cardinal’s football operations. He serves as the team’s primary contract negotiator in addition to overseeing college and professional scouting efforts and assisting salary cap management. A native of Houston, Graves began his career in professional football personnel in 1982 as a regional scout for the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League. Prior to joining the Cardinals, he spent 13 years in various personnel capacities with the Chicago Bears. Highlight Reel: Graves and head coach Dennis Green are the NFL’s only black coach-general managers in tandem.”

Wayne Cooper, Vice President of Basketball Operations, Sacramento Kings, 48: “Eastern Europeans are slowly but steadily making their way into the NBA. Cooper helped pioneer that trend when he signed Peja Stojakovic in 1996, setting off a flood of foreign acquisitions by other NBA teams. Now entering his 11th season with the Kings, Cooper oversees day-to-day operations and preseason scheduling while continuing to scout colle
giate, professional, and international talent. He served two years in the front office of the Portland Trailblazers before joining the Kings in 1994 as assistant coach and director of basketball services. Highlight Reel: Cooper was among the first to be inducted into the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.”

Steve Mills, President and Chief Operating Officer, MSG Sports, 45: “As the top executive of three New York teams-the NBA’s Knicks, NHL’s Rangers, and WNBA’s Liberty-Mills oversees all business operations and is responsible for all sports-related activities at Madison Square Garden, including college basketball, boxing, and track and field. Mills was instrumental in creating the WNBA, helping to negotiate the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, and expanding the MSG Cheering for Children Foundation. He was also instrumental in bringing Isiah Thomas to the Knicks’ front office. Highlight Reel: After revitalizing his teams’ front offices, Mills (along with Terdema Ussery) was named BE’s Corporate Executive of the Year in 2003.”

Elgin Baylor, Vice President of Basketball Operations, Los Angeles Clippers, 70: “For 18 years, Baylor has poured his heart into the sport and the team he loves, showing his devotion for the often struggling franchise by constantly pursuing new talent. An 11-time NBA All-Star and one of the league’s 50 Greatest Players of All-Time, this native Washingtonian used his shrewd judgment to re-sign fan favorites Elton Brand and Corey Maggette. He also helped acquire shooting guard Kerry Kittles, 7-foot center Zeljko Rebraca, and rookie point guard Shaun Livingston. Highlight Reel: Once considered the black hole of the NBA, the Clippers have drawn record-setting crowds and given

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