The Phoenix Suns today named distinguished sports attorney Lon Babby the club’s president of basketball operations.
“Our organization is fortunate to have someone of Lon’s experience and talent to head-up our basketball staff,” said Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver. “He brings with him a unique set of skills and a great reputation in the business.”
With almost 35 years as a practicing attorney with Washington, DC-based Williams & Connolly, LLP, Babby brings a wealth of experience as an industry leader in sports and contract negotiations. Identified as one of “Washington’s Top Lawyers” for media and sports law by Washingtonian magazine, one of the “20 Most Influential Agents” in the nation by Sports Business Journal and one of the 100 most powerful in sports by The Sporting News, Babby joins one of the NBA’s most storied franchises, which owns the league’s fourth-highest winning percentage all-time (.561), and becomes only the fourth basketball president in the team’s 43-year history.
One of the industry’s most successful and well-regarded player agents, Babby brings his unique perspective of having represented players for 16 years to the management side. Babby entered player representation in 1994 when he was retained by current Suns forward Grant Hill. Together the pair devised a new model of player representation based on charging players on an hourly basis, rather than the traditional contract percentage. His principled approach became an alternative that appealed to the elite “good guy” athletes and his stable of clients grew to include some of the NBA’s most respected sportsmen, including Boston’s Ray Allen, San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, Houston’s Shane Battier and Hill, a three-time winner of the NBA Sportsmanship Award. Babby also represented marquee Major League Baseball players and the WNBA’s Tamika Catchings.
Babby began his career in sports representing first the NFL’s Washington Redskins (1977-80) and then MLB’s Baltimore Orioles (1979-94). For the Orioles, he was intimately involved in the senior management of the club. He first served as club counsel and then general counsel, overseeing player contract negotiations, advertising and marketing contracts, labor issues and general business matters, including the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
A graduate of Lehigh University and Yale Law School and former editor of Yale Law Journal, Babby has served as an adjunct professor of law at George Washington University Law School. He began his career as a litigator and handled several high-profile cases including the defense of John Hinckley, Jr., who shot President Reagan. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and in 2007 was elected to the Greater Washington, DC Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
The 59 year-old Babby was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and grew up in Valley Stream, N.Y. He and wife Ellen met at summer camp at age 16 and have been married for 37 years. The couple has a son, Ken (30), who is a senior executive at The Washington Post Company, and a daughter, Heather (26), who is a marketing specialist at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York.