1Tell us about your role as the Director of Game Presentation and Events for Miami Heat. How do your duties differ from regular days to game days?
The role of Director of Game Presentation and Events for the Miami HEAT can simply be described as my dream job. As a Miami native, I grew up a HEAT fan and have rooted for the team my entire life. To now be part of the culture that makes the experience happen is more than I ever could have hoped for.
The role includes several responsibilities that fans never see but are integral to the success of our Game Presentation. On a daily basis, our team of incredibly talented individuals is responsible for coming up with the most innovative activations and elements of Game Presentation. It is then my job to take those ideas and prepare the best ways to execute them in-game.
Specifically, I prepare scripts and rundowns so all of the team members understand their role in the success of our Game Presentation. No job is too small and it is the attention to the smallest details that create the atmosphere HEAT fans have come to know and love.
On game days, I meet with several colleagues from different departments to go over their responsibilities and instructions for that particular game. From a pre-game performance to a timeout contest and t-shirt toss to a halftime ceremony, we go over every activation in full detail so we are on the same page. They will then relay those instructions to the talent responsible for executing everything during the game.
After I meet with that group, I head to the control room to meet with the production crew including Directors, Associate Producers, Graphics and Audio operators, our Lighting Director, among others. We go over every element planned for that game just as I did with the stage managers and talent producers but with more of an eye towards the technical details.
For example, one sponsor activation could have several layers and moving parts including graphic, lighting, and audio cues. Each detail just as important as the next.
Once that meeting is done and the crew understands their tasks for that particular day, I head downstairs to the press table where my workstation is located. This is the best seat in the house—literally front row, center court—especially for a kid who grew up going to HEAT games sitting far up in the stands.
I sit next to the Public Address Announcer who is a local celebrity and someone I imitated when attending games. I go over his script with him before we get started and answer any questions he might have.
When doors open, it’s showtime and I jump on a headset that connects me to more than 20 staff members in different locations throughout the arena. Everyone in the control room and the stage managers on the floor will receive some kind of cue from me throughout the night. Hosts and DJs will hear me in their ears providing direction, and an occasional joke.
By now everyone has been prepared and armed with all the tools to pull off a successful show so all I need to do is stay ahead of the game and let everyone know what’s coming next.
As the game progresses, we execute things we’ve planned and prepared for but, the truth is, a HEAT game is a live production. Depending on the team’s performance we may have to adjust our game plan. In addition to the scripted activations, we are responsible for capitalizing on moments throughout the game that can give our team momentum.
This means changing stuff on the fly to keep the fans engaged when they can add fuel to the fire and give our team that home court advantage. The team on the court often feeds off the energy from the fans and in our business, that is the main priority.
This can be done through song selections and team hype videos, so I may change a scripted timeout to a break where we play high energy music to get the fans going then close with a hype video to help them motivate the team for the upcoming possession. That’s what home court advantage is all about!
At the end of the night, there is no better feeling than calling for our win song “The HEAT Is On” and a HEAT win graphic. As long as those two elements run, it was a good day.
On a non-game day, I will spend time preparing for the upcoming games, reflecting on past games, and contributing to our Marketing Department objectives. We meet with different departments throughout the day which helps with our communication and keeps the organization running like a well-oiled machine.
We collaborate with departments including New Media, Retail, Social Responsibility, Business Communications, Season Ticket Memberships, and others to showcase the HEAT brand in a positive light throughout our local and global communities using all of our available platforms.
2Are there any limitations on your creative freedom in regards to planning and executing events?
In terms of planning and executing events, creative freedom is one thing that should not be limited and at the HEAT we produce some of the most innovatively engaging events for our fans.
As cheesy as it sounds if we can dream it, we can achieve it.
3Given the responsibilities and fluctuating demands of your role, how do you manage your time and related stress?
Time management is a skill needed to thrive in this position. Prioritization is key in managing assignments and staying on task throughout the day.
It’s helpful to create to-do lists with the most important and time sensitive tasks as the priority.
To deal with stress it is helpful to set aside some time for yourself and find an activity that helps you relax. Taking a walk, shooting some hoops, hanging out with friends are all ways I like to relieve stress.
4What are the key elements of a perfectly planned event?
The key to a perfectly planned event is knowing how to adjust on the fly.
Being perfect is a great goal but mostly unattainable.
There is always something that pops up in the events industry and knowing how to adjust to deal with those issues, move on, and continue to produce the event becomes an invaluable skill.
Whether the music doesn’t play for a dance routine (happens more often than you think) or the lighting isn’t quite right, knowing how to overcome obstacles almost becomes more important than the initial plan.
Of course, preparation is very important trying to mitigate issues before they come up will help in producing a perfect event, but knowing what to do when things go wrong, is the true test of a well-planned event.
5How was your role as the Director of Game Presentation and Events impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Did navigating within the 2020 NBA Bubble come with any challenges?
The role of Director of Game Presentation and Events was definitely strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Luckily, I have been able to maintain the job but the responsibilities differed once the new reality set in. No longer producing live fan facing events or producing games with fans in the stands, it was tough trying to adjust to this new normal.
First, we had to try and figure out how to take care of our part-time staff that relied on games and events as their livelihoods.
Then we tried to figure out how to bring the live experience to a digital platform using apps like Microsoft TEAMS and Zoom. We shifted our focus to doing virtual events like virtual school visits.
Then in July, my role shifted again as I was selected as one of the Game Directors in the NBA Bubble. It took some time to get used to a new set of responsibilities including directing games for other teams.
Trying to put on another game director’s show in an environment filled with strict health and safety protocols came with its own obstacles and challenges, unlike anything I’ve done before.
Instead of planning corporate activations, we were now tailoring the game production to the players on the court exclusively.
The role changed to giving the players a sense of normalcy by making it feel like there were 20,000 fans rooting them on even though there weren’t. Or playing songs the players liked because maybe it would give them a slight edge. Or playing highlight videos designed to hype them up in certain moments.
The game really became only about the players on the court more than it ever has before. All this in addition to the personal issues of being away from friends and family for three months.
The NBA bubble became home and everyone in it became family. Bonds were formed that will last a lifetime. We were all in the same boat and we looked to each other for support. The NBA did a great job of making us feel at home and keeping us all safe in the bubble.
6What five qualities does someone aspiring to be in a role similar to yours one day need to have?
Five qualities someone aspiring to be in my role needs: