By Liam Tormey ’22
Last Thursday, the Sports Business Organization at Providence College got the chance to speak with former NBA and PC men’s basketball player, Dickey Simpkins ’94. Simpkins spoke with the group over Skype and discussed his journey from his early childhood to where he is today.
Simpkins, who grew up in Washington D.C., recalled the first time he ever picked up a basketball back in the fourth grade. He said a father of one of his classmates asked him if he wanted to play a basketball game with them that weekend. Simpkins said he went that Saturday with just a pair of shoes, and “ever since then, playing basketball started for me.”
It was a long time until Simpkins realized he was good enough to make it somewhere in basketball. His high school basketball coach told him it was a real possibility, and he said that conversation “turned a switch in my life and I started to do everything to the best of my ability.” He later was invited to an Olympic event where he got the chance to play in front of NBA scouts and he knew getting drafted was a real possibility.
Offers from Duke University, University of Notre Dame, University of Connecticut, and many more were all on the table for Simpkins, but he wanted to play in the Big East Conference or the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Without football at PC, Simpkins knew he could get his name out there.
Simpkins came to PC in 1990 and stayed all four years under head coach Rick Barnes. He said he had an unbelievable experience at PC and even got the chance to win a Big East Championship in 1994 against Georgetown University.
After the ‘94 season, Simpkins entered into the NBA draft and was selected 21st overall in the first round by the Chicago Bulls.
Simpkins remembers the first time he ever met Michael Jordan in the team facility. Simpkins was sleeping in the team facility’s lounge area when Jordan walked by him. He was half-asleep when Jordan came up to him and said, “What’s up, young fellow?” Simpkins said he thought he was dreaming until he fully woke up from his nap and saw Jordan in the locker room.
Simpkins is a three-time NBA Champion and loved his time in the league. He played seven years in the NBA before playing six years overseas. He said it was an “unbelievable experience” to be able to learn about so many different cultures.
After finishing his 13-year playing career, Simpkins wanted to get into the business side of the sports world. He has been in television as a color commentator for college basketball games for 12 years now following his career, has his own basketball development camp called Next Level Performance Inc., and has worked as a scout for both the Charlotte Hornets and currently the Washington Wizards.
Simpkins then took some questions from members of the group. When asked about how to get into the business of the sports world whether that is in broadcasting, the front office, or even as a scout, Simpkins said to “study your craft.” Finding people in the industry who are good at what they do now and replicating their qualities was a tool Simpkins thought would be helpful.
He emphasized how important it is to create and build relationships. During his time at PC, Simpkins created a relationship with current ESPN commentator and former Friar, Doris Burke ‘87. She was the reason Simpkins got his first television job at ESPN and wanted everyone in the club to know how important relationships can be.
Simpkins was really proud to be able to share some tips about his journey to the Sports Business Organization at PC. As an individual who has done so much on and off the basketball court, he was a great speaker to help the club to find ways to get into the sports industry.