The Journey from NBA to MBA

By Shareef Abdur-Rahim

Mr. Abdur-Rahim is a former NBA athlete and U.S. Olympian. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016.

My NBA career was infused with countless interactions that led to my pursuit of an MBA, after I had earned an undergraduate degree in sociology at Cal-Berkeley in 2012, post-NBA. For instance, my MBA pursuit was sparked by the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement between its players and owners, which was an introduction to negotiations, strategy and finance; partnerships with major brands such as Nike, demonstrating how marketing and branding establishes customer loyalty; and the conversations with NBA owners, who control some of the biggest companies in the world, sharing their stories and offering valuable advice. Even if I was not aware at the time, these experiences led to me applying and being accepted to the University of Southern California (USC), Marshall School of Business.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim in a candid photo during USC Marshall School of Business’ 2016 Commencement Ceremony. (Photo: Shareef Abdur-Rahim)

As I reflect on the last two years, it was the search for a unique experience, the challenge of building new relationships and the opportunity to be a resource to a completely new network that led me to USC’s Marshall School of Business. The easier, more comfortable path would have been to consider attending my alma mater, but I wanted to challenge myself, at this stage in my life, to embrace a different experience. I am thankful for all the experiences USC’s Marshall School of Business afforded me from the anxiety of a different environment, the challenge of mastering new information and the expanded capacity to manage multiple projects, but most importantly I am thankful for the people. The amazing faculty, other students with diverse backgrounds and the network of alumni known as the “Trojan Network” made for an incomparable two years.

Excerpted from The Journey from NBA to MBA by Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

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