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Byron Spruell 0

NBA drafts Chicago businessman Byron Spruell

July 1st, 2016

UPDATED: The National Basketball Association has hired Chicago businessman Byron Spruell as the president of league operations. He’ll oversee the basketball operations and referee operations.

The 6-foot-4 chairman of Deloitte accounting firm’s central region (he heads the Chicago office) has an athletic background that makes him a good fit for the position that answers to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Spruell’s role will be similar to that held by NBA exec Rod Thorn before he stepped aside as president of basketball operations last year, according to USA Today.

Spruell, who grew up in Cleveland, played offensive lineman and was co-captain for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. He played for the great Lou Holtz. Spruell currently serves on the school’s board of trustees. Sports are a passion, he’s told me in previous interviews. Here’s a profile.

Spruell’s been with Deloitte 27 years and landed in Chicago as head of the office three years ago. That move made him one of the most high-profile African American businessmen in town.

Spruell declined to talk about his new gig at the NBA, saying he’s waiting until he starts the job Aug. 1.

But in previous conversations, he’s described himself as a corporate athlete. He lives his life by focusing on these four areas of improvement:

  • Intellectual (he reads/listens to music);
  • Emotional (he focuses on family);
  • Physical (he works out, runs half marathons);
  • And spiritual–“It’s about knowing you have a purpose,” he told me.

Since moving to Chicago, Spruell has become active in the city’s civic and philanthropic scenes, working with nonprofits–United Way, Big Shoulders Fund and the Urban League. He’s also served on World Business Chicago and the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. Those two organizations focus on how to make Chicago work better.”Byron is a

“Byron is a tremendous leader and a great asset to the city and he’ll be a great asset for the NBA,” World Business Chicago President and CEO Jeff Malehorn told me this morning.

In a release, Silver called Spruell an “innovator with strong strategic vision and a willingness to challenge the status quo.” He cited Spruell’s “excellent track record of operations and employee management coupled with his established leadership skills.”

Spruell’s move to the NBA, based in New York, will be a coming home of sorts as he and his wife and two children lived in nearby New Jersey before he took the Chicago job.

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