By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
Last Monday, June 13, it was announced that Burmese American Rich Cho, 45, will take over as general manager (GM) of the Charlotte Bobcats, only the third GM in its history. Cho replaces Rod Higgins, who was promoted to the position of president of basketball operations. Cho will report to famed former NBA player Michael Jordan, who is the majority owner of the team.
“He has a unique set of skills that I don’t possess,” Higgins told the Charlotte Observer. “His analytical mind is a big plus for us. His legal background is a big plus for us.” <!–more–>
“Rod’s very kind,” said Cho in an interview posted on the Bobcats’ website. “He was nice enough to call me the day after I got released. … I’ll just say one thing that excited me [about the team] is their commitment to winning. I’m just excited to be here, and I’m excited to be a Bobcat.”
“We felt that if we didn’t make a quick move, being as talented as Rich is — we didn’t want to have other teams come into the market,” said Higgins. “We were able to come to an agreement and the rest is history. Now, we’re going forward.”
“One of the things that really is important is Rich’s skill set, I think it complements a lot of things I do,” added Higgins. “I’m a traditional basketball guy, kind of raised up in the game, played the game. But Rich brings a different skill set, in terms of an analytical approach, the way he sees things. I think that’s a beautiful part of any successful organization, when you have different ideas, different thought processes.”
Cho was abruptly fired from the Trail Blazers on May 23 after about 11 months as GM. This was apparently due to interpersonal chemistry problems. He was the first Asian American GM in major league sports.
Cho is a Northwest native. He was born in Myanmar and immigrated to the United States in 1968, when he was 3 years old. His family settled in Federal Way, and Cho attended Decatur High School.
He has an engineering degree from Washington State University and a law degree from Pepperdine University Law School.
He was assistant general manager of the Seattle SuperSonics and later the Oklahoma City Thunder for nine seasons.
The Bobcats have the ninth, 19th, and 39th picks in the June 23 NBA draft, which Jordan has said is critical for Charlotte’s future.
Cho will act as GM for the draft. ♦
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.