Up next in our ‘New England Roots’ series: Thunder executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti. The Massachusetts native was raised in Concord and played basketball at Emerson, serving as a co-captain during his final two seasons before graduating in 2000.
Presti worked his way up the NBA front office ranks under the tutelage of RC Buford and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, before being elevated to the position of vice president and assistant general manager. As a member of the Spurs, Presti was part of NBA Championship teams in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He was named general manager of the Thunder in 2007 at age 29 and has helped build a perennial contender in the West for the majority of the past decade.
You grew up in Concord, what was that town like as far as youth sports growing up?
Presti: I am sure like most towns in that area, everyone played sports. We were outside all the time, it was how you made your friends and got to know the kids you would be spending your adolescence with. I can still tell you the names of the Little League teams all my friends were on just like I can remember their phone numbers for some strange reason. Now, today, I don’t know one person’s phone number, but I can recall Pat Savage, Richie Snell, Mike Johnson and Tyler Dewings if you would like.
What’s your most vivid youth sports memory?
Presti: January 13th, 1995, my senior year we beat Acton-Boxborough in our home gym at Concord-Carlisle — you could call that vivid I guess. My high school team was incredibly close, we put in a lot of summer hours training to win that game, and when it happened, it brought us even closer. Some of my teammates are still my best friends to this day. I think it taught us all some valuable lessons about hard work, togetherness and the strength of a unified group, even if you’re not the most talented.
I also remember after one Little League traveling game, I was pitching, and I just got absolutely shelled.