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07/08/2014 | Created by Darla Martin Tucker

Brian Wright, a 2004 graduate of La Sierra University, has been named assistant general manager of the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons.

Alum Brian Wright speaks during an alumni weekend awards presentation in April. In the background, university Provost Steve Pawluk. (Photos by Natan Vigna)
La Sierra University 2004 alum Brian Wright, center, gives remarks following his receipt of the Rising Star award in April. Left to right, Provost Steve Pawluk, President Randal Wisbey, Zapara School of Business Dean John Thomas.

Detroit Pistons Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy made the announcement July 7 in a Pistons release. Wright arrives in Detroit following eight seasons with the Orlando Magic. He oversaw player development and served as director of college scouting last season which included executing preparations for the NBA draft. Wright started with the Magic in 2006 as a summer intern. He was hired as the scouting coordinator before the 2006-07 season.

“Brian understands our vision and what we are trying to accomplish as a front office staff. He has a sharp basketball mind and will be an asset for our organization,” Van Gundy said in the release. He served as the Magic’s coach from 2007 – 2012.

“I’m just excited about it,” said Wright in an interview with La Sierra University. “I get a chance to work with Stan again, and this organization has such a rich history.”

Wright will work under newly hired General Manager Jeff Bower and Van Gundy. He graduated from La Sierra University’s Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He was also a student-athlete and played on the university’s Golden Eagles basketball team. Wright attended graduate school at the University of Central Florida, earning an MBA and master’s degree in sports business management from the DeVos Sports Business Management Program.

The Zapara School of Business honored Wright during Alumni Weekend in April with a Rising Star award for his career accomplishments. The university’s three schools and its college hand out awards each year to alumni who have excelled in their chosen fields.

In his remarks during the awards banquet on April 25, Wright stated La Sierra allowed him to pursue his passions in athletics and academics. He added that La Sierra’s professors meet students where they are and propel them toward where they want to go. “I’m a big believer in pursuing your passion,” he said. 

Wright played basketball at Takoma Academy in Silver Spring, Md. and was recruited during a tournament to attend La Sierra University and play for the Golden Eagles. Wright loved playing ball, but quickly realized if he wanted to continue in the sport he needed to become a coach or other administrator, he said. “Basketball has always been my passion,” said Wright. “Working in the NBA has always been a dream.”

At La Sierra he acquired necessary life skills through faculty who take the time to listen to students and direct them toward their goals, Wright said. “Johnny Thomas [business school dean] is great. He’s hands-on with the students and pushes you to think outside the box.”

“I am excited to see one of our students excel in the basketball world,” said Thomas. “He wanted to do this all of his life. His success gives hope to students who don’t go to high profile schools that they too, can be successful. The status of a college doesn’t guarantee success. You need to pursue your passion and work hard until you succeed.”