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Rich Cho's journey from immigrant child to general manager

Sep 10, 2010, 10:16 AM EDT

cho_blazers.jpgThere is no one path to being an NBA general manager, but Rich Cho’s was dramatically different than any others.

He was born in Burma and came to the United States at age 3, as he told the Asian-focused publication Hyphen.

Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of resources, and we struggled quite a bit.  We were on food stamps for a long time, welfare. My dad worked the graveyard shift at 7-Eleven and my mom worked in a library and took an hour-long bus ride into work every day.  Coming from a humble background made me not only hungry to succeed, but I also wanted to make my parents proud.

He eventually went on to Washington State and earned an engineering degree, which he parlayed into a comfortable job with Boeing for five years. But he wanted to get into sports and sports management, and he knew that the best way to do that was with a law degree. So goodbye stable job, hello loans and classes on torts.

After he got his law degree he landed a job with the Sonics — based in part on a legendary introductory letter — and from there climbed the ladder through a combination of brains and work ethic. Two things most GMs do share.

So what are his plans as GM?

I’m going to challenge and push my staff a great deal, probably more so than they’ve ever been challenged or pushed.  I want to leave no stone uncovered when it comes to the NBA draft, free agency, and trades.  Beyond that, I like to treat people the way I would like to be treated.  In addition, because this job is so time-consuming it’s important to me for my staff to spend ample time with their families and loved ones, because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

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