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Episode 156: David Thorpe, Leadership and Player Development
Episode 15624th March 2021 • The Basketball Podcast • Chris Oliver
00:00:00 01:09:52

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Guest: David Thorpe, Godfather of Player Development

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, the "Godfather" of player development, David Thorpe joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss the evolution of player development, leadership, and the impact he has made on the game.

David Thorpe’s career began as a successful high school basketball coach in Florida in 1987. In 1993 he left “team coaching” by opening the first specialized player development program in the country, producing high-level major college prospects by 1994. It spawned a global business where now in every city in the basketball-playing world there are families working with private coaches, much like tennis and golf athletes have always done, in multi-million dollar facilities, gyms, and driveways. Six years later Thorpe moved from helping high school and college players to NBA players and professionals playing overseas. Coach Thorpe has helped his players earn salaries amounting to over a billion dollars in the past 19 years, and the list of players he has worked with closely have been NBA All-Stars, World Champions, European League Champions, Asian Champions (China), and Olympians representing 6 different countries. He is both skills and life coach to many of them, as he is to some successful head coaches and executives in the NBA and Europe.

Coach Thorpe served as a lead NBA analyst for ESPN.COM for 10 years, recently stepping way to pursue more consulting and speaking opportunities in the business and sports communities, then partnering to create with respected journalist Henry Abbott. But he still can be heard weekly on many of the top NBA podcasts and radio programs such as “The Lowe Post” (ESPN), NBA Radio on Sirius/XM, and “The Full 48” (Bleacher Report)m along with TrueHoop's BRING IT IN three times a week, where NBA Head Coaches/Executives and an assortment of best-selling authors and other influencers on our culture today appear.

Thorpe has been listed as one of the “50 Most influential People in the NBA” and has made hundreds of appearances in the past few years on ESPN’s Sportscenter and other sports shows, while commonly being asked to comment on the NBA for The Wall St. Journal, The New York Times, and many publications, for his insights into the game and the people who run it and play it.

His experience developing players, coaches, and executives for professional basketball leagues around the world helped to create his entry into the corporate workspace, where he speaks to rooms packed with CEO’s or a company’s leadership team on subjects like modern leadership, emotional and physical fitness, and building a powerful workplace culture that fosters personal growth for everyone.

Coach Thorpe published his first book, Basketball is Jazz: Stories and Lessons From a Basketball Lifer in February 2017, and is now working on a follow-up, “Parenting is Jazz”.

Thorpe just launched his first player development app, which can be found(Beta version) at The focus is on skill and game development with an emphasis on communicating directly with players and their families to help them follow the exact same path and curriculum Thorpe's professional clients pursue.

He has been married to his wife Christine since 1990. They live in Clearwater, Florida, and they have twins: their son is a redshirt freshman playing basketball at Florida State University, and their daughter is studying hospitality management at the famed Rosen College at the University of Central Florida


1:00 - Recruiting Great Players

3:00 - Evolution of Player Development

7:00 - Skills

11:00 - Developing the Weekend

17:00 - Turnovers

20:00 - Goal is Winning

25:00 - Overall Picture of Development

30:00 - Concept of Changing Directions

34:00 - Emphasizing Analytics

38:00 - Trainers on Defense

45:00 - Development is not Linear

50:00 - Working Hard

57:00 - Concept of Royal jelly

1:00:00 - Modern Development

1:05:00 - Conclusion

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