The 11 Best General Managers in Sports
Anyone who has played franchise mode on Madden has probably thought to themselves at some point “Man, I would be the best general manager in the NFL. Look at this amazing team I am assembling.”
The truth is, being general manager is probably one of the hardest gigs you could ever imagine. It mashes at least fifteen jobs all in to one: financial analyst, broker, scout, coach, mediator, spokesperson, punching bag, etc, etc. And that doesn’t even touch on the agony of having to deal with the Drew Rosenhauses and Scott Borases of the world on a consistent basis.
With the NFL draft approaching (more on that in the coming days) and the futures of many teams to be shaped by their respective GMs, SpreeGoogs presents the definitive list of the top ones in all of sports.
11. Jerry Reese, New York Giants
I marvel at the Giants’ ability to win a Super Bowl one year, go 8-8 the next year and look absolutely terrible, and then be right back the next year for a deep playoff run. It’s clockwork. And Reese has a lot to do with that, keeping calm and always selecting the best pass rusher available. It’s a brilliant strategy since pass rush is so incredibly important to overall team defense, and I’m surprised more teams don’t copy it.
10. Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers
Is it just me, or were the Rangers suddenly relevant seemingly overnight? They were an afterthought of baseball every since Nolan Ryan retired and now they are the perennial AL-West favorite, making the Angels react to them by signing aging superstars like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to huge contracts to try and keep pace. Daniels has assembled a stacked lineup from top to bottom and a farm system that will keep Texas competitive for a long time. All this while still being the youngest GM in baseball.
9. Masai Ujiri, Denver Nuggets
Ujiri defines flying under the radar. His one moment in the spotlight was when he traded Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks soon after he took the Nuggets gig – many thought he was crazy, but look now: the haul brought Danilo Galinari, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov, three immensely important parts of the Denver lineup plus a first round pick this year. And trading Anthony allowed him to build a team of selfless gazelles that gives other teams fits with their fast break dunks. Ujiri contently watches from the sideline.
8. Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils
Lou has no NHL playing experience and started his working career as a math teacher, but yet worked his way up and has now spent 26 years at the helm of the one of the league’s most successful franchises (with 3 Stanley Cup titles in that time). That’s the American dream right there. If anyone on this list gives me hope that my Madden franchise experience will translate to the big leagues, it’s this guy.
7. John Mozeliak, St. Louis Cardinals
Anyone who constructs a team that makes it to Game 7 of the NLCS the year after losing Pujols and Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa deserves a spot on this list.
6. R.C. Buford, San Antonio Spurs
How does he do it? As soon as you think the Spurs are going to start fade, they earn the No. 2 seed in the West again. The fact that he has been able to keep a trio of stars like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in a small market like San Antonio and continue to infuse the team with young talent like Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard to supplement is nothing short of remarkable.
5. Ken Holland, Detroit Red Wings
Can you imagine the NHL playoffs without the Red Wings? You probably can’t because it hasn’t happened in 21 years. Like Lou from NJ, Holland has guided the Red Wings to three Stanley Cup titles and just continued to stock the cupboard with stars like Pavel Datsuyk and Henrik Zetterburg even when legends such as Niklas Lidstrom or Steve Yzerman fade into distant memory.
4. Ted Thompson, Green Bay Packers
Thompson is forming somewhat of a front office tree similar to the what the Patriots had with their coaching tree (Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels) – the Raiders (Reggie McKenzie) and Chiefs (John Dorsey) both dipped into the Green Bay well recently, undoubtedly because of the tutelage they have received from Thompson. He drafts incredibly well, and he has to being in Green Bay, not exactly the sexiest of destinations. Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, and everyone else of worth on their roster is homegrown. And the few free agents he does sign, like Charles Woodson, turn out to be gems.
3. Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay is remarkable – they spent $64 million on their 2012 roster compared to the Yankees’ $200 million and still finished only five games behind them. And although the Red Sox were awful last year, they have consistently been one of the better teams in the past decade and yet the Rays have still managed to remain in the playoff mix every year with them and the Yankees. Friedman does it by stocking up on pitching and building his lineup around Evan Longoria. A wise man.
2. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder
I’ll admit when I saw the news of the James Harden trade, my jaw dropped. Had Presti lost his mind? Of course not. He was merely working his genius. He knew that he couldn’t pay Harden along with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka and field a competitive NBA roster. So he traded Harden, who would always be third or fourth fiddle, to the Rockets in return for Kevin Martin, who has been a great role player for the Thunder, and a bevy of picks that Presti will use to draft someone awesome just like he did with the aforementioned trio. Just how good the Thunder will be for so long is scary.
1. Ozzie Newsome, Baltimore Ravens
I loved the way that Newsome ran the Ravens long before they won the Super Bowl, so I was glad that he started getting even more props after their miraculous run. And it was hilarious to see everyone start to panic when the Ravens started to lose some of their key players to free agency – Ed Reed, Danelle Ellerbe, Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger. Give me a break. Ozzie never pays for second-tier talent like that for a reason, and he’ll draft more than capable replacements just like he always does or go out and sign steals like Elvis Dumervil. And before you know it, the Ravens will be back in the playoffs for the sixth straight year.
This is the definitive list, but if by slight chance we missed someone, then be sure to let us know in the comments.