Published 05/20/2020 | Reading Time 6 min 17 sec
By Autumn Brown, Senior Writer
I knew my conversation with Autry Parker “A.P.” Brantley would be fruitful when I learned I was talking to a fellow Lakers fan. As a Detroit native, he remembers watching Magic Johnson (also a Michigan native) lead the Lakers to numerous NBA titles. He cites that as the spark that fueled his passion for sports management.
Autry Parker Brantley, though he goes by A.P., played on sports teams until “I was good enough not to be good enough,” he says. Playing high school basketball under a coach like Derrick McDowell, A.P. was on a trajectory toward a bright future in the game. Though, his basketball career was hindered indefinitely due to complications with asthma and Sickle Cell Trait (SCT).
“Everyone’s level of performance drops once fatigued, and mine, based on the [intense] way I liked to play, mine would drop quicker than others.”
Changing suits, A.P. is currently the Director of International & College Scouting for the Windsor Express of the National Basketball League of Canada.
I caught up with A.P. during the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. I was curious about how this crisis has impacted his international basketball operations responsibilities.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your work as a sports agent?
A: Well, from an economic perspective, my role could be viewed as that of a sport agent to team management, ownership, and league. But according to conventional wisdom, my role is NOT that of a sports agent, as it is–[human capital full life cycle recruiting] a scout identifying highly-qualified basketball players. Which is 75% international via the Americas and 25% global. With respect to how stay-at-home orders per COVID-19 have impacted my role, I can’t personally evaluate all the talented players around I-35 on my list, as planned. The NCAA canceled Men’s Basketball tournaments, and the Final Four. The NBA suspended its season, then postponed the 2020 Draft Lottery and the Draft Combine indefinitely. Our league suspended activity, then canceled the remainder of the ninth season. The Olympic Committees have postponed most, if not all competitions to 2021. As a FIBA Certified Coach, I was really looking forward to joining a team in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria, BC Canada this June. Most gyms and fitness centers are closed amid Coronavirus concerns. So, it’s vexing, as there are no live practices, and games to watch. Synergy Sports Technology is probably overwhelmed, per the increased volume of usage.
Q: It seems like the world (well, Oklahoma) really started to pay attention when NBA athletes started testing positive for coronavirus. What do you think about that?
A: COVID-19, evidently, is a subject of mammals. Apparently, no noun is exempt, which is unfortunate. The NBA Commissioner, and the Board of Governors decides to suspend the 2019-20 season was unequivocally appropriate, as social distancing has proved to be relatively effective, as we know it today.
Q: What are your thoughts on how hard the black community has been hit with coronavirus?
A: Many thoughts come to mind, and some may be inapt to express publicly. I try to focus on solving the issues that Kyle Korver wrote about in his article “privileged”. While there’s something to be said, and done about the material disproportionate rates of us in comparison to the larger racial and ethnic population of society, COVID-19 statistics is another to focus on. People of color in many places are disproportionately affected by the virus. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Labor regarding unemployment benefits, the Louisiana Minimum benefit amount one could get per week is only $10 per week (just $5 more than Hawai’i), and the Maximum benefit amount per week is only $247. Truth be told, some of those residents still haven’t recovered from the hurricanes and oil spill.
Q: We see that there are general health disparities among communities of color (namely due to poor healthcare or a lack of access to it, living conditions, and work conditions). But would you say those disparities exist within the NBA?
A: No. Once a player has been blessed to be selected to join an NBA roster, typically he will have the necessary means to an end in abundance, but it wouldn’t surprise me if their extended families are unfortunately reaching out to them for assistance. So, are NBA players impacted by those disparities? Yes, it is highly likely, as historically, nearly 80% of NBA players are of color.
Q: How is health treated in the NBA among its players?
A: I know of nothing held out by an NBA franchise to its employees that isn’t world-class. Perhaps, maybe the fact that many teams still don’t pay interns anything but a signature of college credit for their service. However, roughly everything else is first class. In light of COVID-19, social distancing is practiced, and there is talk about allowing players to exercise in the practice facilities, and perhaps even resuming the season.