Commanders hire ex-Warriors general manager Bob Myers as adviser

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Josh Harris and his investment partners coughed up $6.05 billion to purchase the Washington Commanders last summer. The purchase price was a record for a North American sports franchise and the sale was approved by a unanimous vote of NFL owners desperate to rid their exclusive fraternity of the villainous Dan Snyder.

Harris stayed in the shadows while the Commanders stumbled to a 4-13 record and last-place finish in the NFC East. One day after the season ended, however, he pounced, firing coach Ron Rivera on Monday.

He also brought on two new advisors, one of whom seems odd at first blush but makes perfect sense upon examination: Bob Myers.

UCLA's Bob Myers reaches for a rebound during a basketball game against Oregon State.

UCLA’s Bob Myers reaches for a rebound against Oregon State during a game on Feb. 2, 1996. Myers was hired Monday as an advisor to the Washington Commanders.

(Patrick Downs / Los Angeles Times)

Yes, the same Bob Myers who as general manager built the Golden State Warriors into an NBA juggernaut. The same Bob Myers who worked as a sports agent under Arn Tellem. The same Bob Myers who played basketball at UCLA in the 1990s and graced the cover of Sports Illustrated when he lifted teammate Tyus Edney into the air after the point guard’s legendary baseline-to-baseline basket beat Missouri in the 1995 NCAA tournament.

Myers isn’t the first executive with a basketball background to have Harris’ ear — Magic Johnson is part of the Commanders’ ownership group. Clearly, Harris — who also is co-owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils — recognizes that qualities that make a coach or executive successful transcend any particular sport.

Myers and former Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman will serve on a committee with Harris, Johnson and two other Commanders co-owners that will “make the best decisions for the franchise,” Harris said in a statement. Top of the agenda will be hiring a general manager and a head coach.

Myers, who is in his first year as an NBA analyst at ESPN after 12 years as Warriors general manager, is a longtime friend of Harris, who according to Bloomberg has a net worth of $8.42 billion.

“In speaking with Josh and his team, it is clear they will do everything it takes to build out a world-class organization — one that can win on the field and make a positive mark in the [D.C., Maryland and Virginia] community,” Myers said in a statement. “This is the type of opportunity that truly inspires me.”

Myers, 48, has long recognized opportunity. He walked on to the UCLA basketball team after a chance meeting on campus with then-assistant coach Steve Lavin. Although he didn’t score a point until the last regular-season game during the championship season, Myers enjoyed the limelight along with the team’s stars, meeting President Clinton, appearing on the “Tonight” show, and parading down Main Street at Disneyland.

By his senior year he was an important cog on the team, and went on to graduate from Loyola Law School while working his way up in Tellem’s SFX agency. He moved to the Wasserman Media Group a decade later and eventually negotiated contracts worth close to $600 million.

After only one year as an assistant general manager with the Warriors, he was promoted to the top job, and by the 2014-15 season he was named NBA executive of the year. The Warriors won their first of four NBA championships under Myers that season.

Now he’ll turn his attention to the NFL, helping Harris attempt to turn around a franchise marred by Snyder’s disastrous ownership and Rivera’s poor record (26-40-1) and the team missing the playoffs for the third straight season.

Myers should align well with Johnson, who explained why he joined the Commanders’ ownership team in an exclusive interview with The Times: “As soon as the Commanders went up for sale, I got that call from Josh. The first thing I said to him, just like I said to Mark Walter of the Dodgers, ‘Do you want to win?’ That’s my No. 1 question to everybody. I want to win. He said yes. And what I love about him is he said he wants me to have a major role.”

The head coaching search has already begun. Washington has requested permission to interview Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, and Baltimore Ravens associate head coach Anthony Weaver, according to ESPN and the NFL Network.

“In my experience, championship infrastructure begins with a strong ownership group that prioritizes culture and invests in the industry’s most talented and innovative leaders,” Myers said.

No doubt Myers is one of those leaders in the eyes of Harris.

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