NBA Development League President Dan Reed announced today that former NBA guard Shawn Respert will assume the role of Director of Basketball Operations for the D-League. Respert joined the D-League last season as Manager of Player Development.
“We are thrilled make Shawn an even more important figure in our basketball operations department,” Reed said. “Shawn was a winner on the basketball court, he was a winner developing talent for us last year, and we are expecting a major contribution from him this upcoming season.”
In his new role, Respert will play an integral part in scouting players and coaches in college and on the pro level. He replaces Terrance “Doc” Martin who was recently hired by the Portland Trail Blazers as a regional scout.
“Shawn’s experience as a player and his knowledge of the NBA will help us grow the D-League and improve our ability to identify and develop talent for the NBA,” said Chris Alpert, NBA Development League Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel.
Respert continues his D-League career with a wealth of playing and front-office experience. He enjoyed a standout college career at Michigan State that was highlighted by a senior season where he averaged 25.6 points and garnered unanimous All-America and Big Ten Player of the Year honors. He was selected eighth overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1995 NBA Draft and played four seasons in the league with the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns.
Respert also played professionally in Italy, Greece and Poland from 1999 through 2003. His best season came during the 2002 - 03 season when he averaged 20.5 points per game as a member of Stargard Szczecinski in Poland.
Two years after his playing career ended Respert announced that he had battled stomach cancer from the early stages of his rookie NBA season. He had suffered unbearable cramps and eventually noticed a lump growing beneath his belly button. In May 1996 he received the devastating diagnosis that he was in fact suffering the ill-affects of stomach cancer.
Respert was determined to keep the disease a secret in order to eliminate it as an excuse for any of his sub-par performances. The only people who knew what Shawn was up against were Bucks’ trainers, doctors and eventually head coach Mike Dunleavy. Not even his closest relatives or friends knew about it.
Despite losing 20 pounds during radiation treatments, Respert was hoping to rebound from a rookie season that saw him average 4.9 points. His play improved to a point where he trailed only Ray Allen, the Bucks first round selection in 1996, in scoring during the summer league. Respert was optimistic that he would regain the form which made him a college basketball icon.
Things looked up for the 24 year-old entering his second NBA campaign. His cancer went into remission and he was expecting a break-out season. But Respert wasn’t in the plans of new Bucks head coach Chris Ford. After playing in just 14 games, Respert was dealt to the Toronto Raptors where he averaged 5.6 points in 27 games, during the 1996 – 97 season. He then embarked on an NBA journey which included stops in Dallas, Toronto for a second time, and it finished in Phoenix where he got into 12 games with the Suns during the 1998 – 99 season.
“I’m proud of what I accomplished during my NBA career. I persevered through some tough times and I know it made me a stronger person,” Respert said. “I learned a lot and I feel I can pass a long some of life’s most important lessons to young basketball players.”
Following his four year NBA career and four seasons playing overseas, Respert entered the coaching ranks as a volunteer assistant at Prairie View A&M during the 2003-04 season.
In 2004 Shawn became the Director of Basketball Operations at Rice University, where he stayed until 2006.
Shawn will now look to utilize his administrative experience, his knowledge of the pro game as well as his ability to overcome a devastating disease, to communicate to players the necessary characteristics to get to the D-League, and eventually the NBA. And like those D-Leaguer’s with NBA aspirations, Respert himself would like to eventually earn a call-up to the League. His ultimate goal is to work in an NBA teams’ front office, most likely as a team president or general manager.
“Shawn exemplifies exactly what our league is all about,” Reed said. “He is a tremendous role model for all of our players, and I know by speaking with him, our players will not only grow as athletes, but as human beings as well.”