Ned Cohen wasn’t looking to leave the NBA front office. He had been working for the league since 2003, when he started as an intern and moved up to the role of associate vice president of basketball operations.
But when the Sixers came calling with an offer to become their associate vice president and chief of staff, Cohen couldn’t say no.
“I had the great fortune of a lot of great experiences at the league office over about 12 years,” Cohen said Thursday following a Sixers pre-draft workout. “Working for a team was something that always had a deal of great appeal and interest to me. The organization, the ownership, the leadership here and the opportunities are really what made this something that I’m so grateful for and couldn’t be more excited to get started with.”
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Cohen was one of the first additions Bryan Colangelo made when he began his role as president of basketball operations. The two built a relationship over the years as Cohen worked for the league and Colangelo for Suns and Raptors. The Sixers hired Cohen in early May and he began his job on Wednesday.
During his tenure with the league, one of Cohen’s focuses was competitive rules. This included rules as they pertain to playing, collective bargaining and the draft. He was also involved with the undergraduate advisory committee with the NCAA, which offers college players with draft projects to help them decide on remaining in the draft or returning to school.
Cohen looks to bring his years of experience to his position with the Sixers.
“In this role of chief of staff, it’s going to focus a great deal on organizing and directing the efforts, which are very comprehensive and complex across the basketball operations,” he said.
The hiring of Cohen was considered to be a strong acquisition for the Sixers, who spent little time bolstering their front office upon Colangelo’s hiring. They also hired Marc Eversley as vice president of player personnel and promoted Brandon Williams to vice president of basketball administration at the same time.
“Ned’s overall knowledge of the league, his expertise on a wide range of topics, and his ability to manage high-level issues will be very beneficial to our management team,” Colangelo said in a statement announcing Cohen’s addition.
After working with the entire league for years, Cohen will now zone in on one specific organization. All Sixers, all the time.
“The biggest difference (between working for the NBA and a team) itself is a common goal and focus to win and be successful as a team,” Cohen said. “The opportunity to compete is really what appealed to me a great deal and is going to drive us in seeking to achieve what we hope to do here.”