TIGER WOODS, 27
Woods, a billionaire in the making, has single-handedly lifted his sport's ratings, attendance and prize money to new heights. He's a global icon who will continue to alter the landscape of sports and sports business. His foundation, which is funded in part by two big tournaments (both are Tour events), could become the richest charity run by an athlete.
SERENA WILLIAMS, 21
Credibility. Marketability. Visibility. Dominance. Serena has them all. The top female athlete in the world, she has held tennis's No. 1 ranking since July 2002 and won four straight Grand Slam events. Off the court, Nike and Puma are bidding for her services. She could soon become the first female athlete to garner a $50 million endorsement deal.
MICHAEL JORDAN, 40
Future NBA Hall of Famer
Capitalism in hightops. Jordan's global economic impact was recently estimated at $13 billion and counting, no matter that he says he'll no longer be playing. At least two NBA teams are waiting for him to decide which front office he'll run. He has the power to reshape a franchise and perhaps even the league. Dare we say Commissioner Jordan?
ARTURO MORENO, 56
Owner, Anaheim Angels
Out of nowhere, the Phoenix businessman jumped nearly to the top of our list last month by purchasing the world champion Angels for $180 million, making him the first Latino majority owner in sports. Moreno, who made billions in the outdoor-advertising business, was partially attracted by Anaheim's potentially lucrative Latino fan base.
TYRONE WILLINGHAM, 49
Football Coach, Notre Dame
Clout comes with winning, especially on the grandest stages. No one exemplifies this better than Willingham, who in just one season restored the glory to perhaps the most prestigious program in college football. His success as Notre Dame's first African-American coach could embolden other schools to hire a black football coach.
YAO MING, 22
Center, Houston Rockets
Yao, the 7'5" Chinese import, had the greatest economic impact of any NBA rookie since Michael Jordan. Houston's home attendance rose 17%, and for the first time in years the Rockets were a draw on the road. The NBA is now aired on six Chinese TV networks. With his engaging smile, Yao already has deals with Apple and Visa.
GENE UPSHAW, 58
Executive Director, NFL Players Assn.
No union leader has a better rapport with his league's commissioner. (Upshaw and Paul Tagliabue talk three times a week.) Though most NFL contracts are not guaranteed, Upshaw has secured other critical
gains for players, including free agency and 65% of gross revenue. More important, there hasn't been a player walkout since '87.
JIMMIE LEE SOLOMON, 46
Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, Major League
Few executives influence more facets of the game than this Harvard Law graduate. Solomon, who's worked in baseball since 1991, oversees MLB's U.S. and international operations, the Scouting Bureau and the Arizona Fall League. He conceived the All-Star Futures Game and has been instrumental in establishing MLB's Youth Baseball Academy.
HAROLD HENDERSON, 60
Executive VP for Labor Relations and Chairman of Management
Sitting across the table from Gene Upshaw (No. 8) is Henderson, who is in charge of the league's labor efforts. He's the NFL's chief negotiator and the league's highest-ranking African-American. Henderson and his staff oversee matters regarding the salary cap ($71.1 million in 2002) and have final approval on all player contracts.
JONATHAN MARINER, 48
CFO, Major League Baseball
He is the game's Alan Greenspan, a trusted voice in a parlous economic environment. Among his various duties, Mariner meets regularly with team executives to monitor their finances and prevent surprise fiscal woes. When teams seek to borrow from the league's loan pool, they've got to get through Mariner first.
TREVOR EDWARDS, 40
Corporate Vice President of Global Brand Management, Nike
Think the latest Nike product is dope? You can thank Edwards, a top executive at Nike, who oversees a budget of close to $1 billion to develop and execute management strategy and communications. Born in London, Edwards, who has been at Nike for a decade, was instrumental in signing the World Cup-champ Brazilian soccer team.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, 31
Center, Los Angeles Lakers
A 7'1", 325-pound giant on the court and an economic force off it, Shaq owns a record label and a clothing company, has released five rap CDs and has appeared in three movies. His gentle-giant image enables him to earn $14 million a year in endorsements from companies like Burger King, Nestle Crunch, Radio Shack, Swatch and Starter.
ULICE PAYNE, 47
President, Milwaukee Brewers
The first African-American president of a major league team, Payne is responsible for all business aspects of the operation—from marketing to ticket pricing to ballpark amenities. After the Brewers' 10th straight losing season, Payne replaced Wendy Selig-Prieb (Bud's daughter) last September and has pledged to attract more black and Latino fans.
DON KING, 71
Though his influence has diminished because of boxing's misfortunes and his own longtime reliance on heavyweights, King is still a force in the sport. He's promoted more than 500 fights, including six of the 10 largest pay-per-view events. In what may be a last-ditch grasp at regaining power, he is trying to sign Lennox Lewis to a three-fight deal.
KENNY WILLIAMS, 39
General Manager, Chicago White Sox
He was just four years old when sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos took a defiant stand against racism in the United States by removing their shoes and raising their black-gloved fists on the podium during the medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Yet Williams's father, Jerry, who had run track with Smith and Carlos at San Jose State, made sure his young son knew the meaning behind the moment. Indeed, growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area among hippies and Black Panthers, Kenny was often privy to fiery political and social dialogues. "It was the sign of the times," says Williams. "Though I was young, it was pretty obvious, the passion behind those discussions."
In 2000 he became the third African-American general manager in baseball, and he remains one of two minority G.M.'s in the sport, along with Montreal's Omar Minaya (No. 17). A former wideout at Stanford, Williams was selected by the White Sox in the third round of the 1982 draft despite not having played college baseball. He retired in '91 and became a White Sox scout before moving up to special assistant to owner Jerry Reinsdorf three years later.
Williams has already made his mark in the front office. In January he helped engineer a three-team trade that resulted in the acquisition of Bartolo Colon from the Expos. "Kenny's one of the brightest minds in the game," says Oakland G.M. Billy Beane. "He's very self-assured, straightforward and honest."
In Williams and manager Jerry Manual the White Sox have the first minority G.M.-manager combination in baseball. And though Williams is proud of being a part of a franchise that encourages diversity, he believes the opportunity he has received will be meaningless if he doesn't win. "You've got to be prepared to succeed," says Williams. "It's just a footnote and not a real win if you fail." — Andrea Woo
OMAR MINAYA, 44
General Manager, Montreal Expos
In a feat of magic Minaya has kept the Expos competitive despite an anemic $40 million payroll. Baseball's first Latino G.M., he has hired more than 100 people--nearly a third of them minorities—since taking the job in 2002. He was an assistant G.M. with the Mets and, before that, a Rangers scout who was best known for signing Sammy Sosa.
KOBE BRYANT, 24
Guard, Los Angeles Lakers
With three NBA championships, five All-Star appearances and endorsement deals with Sprite, Spalding and McDonald's, Bryant is a new-generation Jordan. He ranks 31st among Forbes's Top 100 Most Powerful Celebrities, and his next shoe contract (he's a free agent since parting ways with Adidas) should be worth at least $25 million.
ANITA DEFRANTZ, 50
An IOC member since 1986, DeFrantz, a '76 bronze medalist in rowing, is the senior and most influential U.S. representative in the often fractious organization. In '97 she was elected IOC vice president, becoming the first woman to hold the position. An advocate for women's sports, she helped get women's soccer and softball added to the Games.
BILL DUFFY, 43
One of the first agents to go global, Duffy became the hottest rep in basketball after landing three of the top four picks in the 2002 NBA draft, including Yao Ming (No. 7). Other clients are Canada's Steve Nash and 20 Europeans. Duffy's got game too: The former Santa Clara guard sealed the deal to rep Jay Williams last year by winning a game of
TERDEMA USSERY, 44
President and CEO, Dallas Mavericks
Steve Nash is not Mavs owner Mark Cuban's most vital point man. It's Ussery, a former Nike executive and an ex-CBA commissioner. In a key maneuver to improve the team's financial situation, he helped secure funds for a new arena through a $125 million bond that was approved by Texas voters. He also hangs with Roy Jones Jr. (No. 70).
OZZIE NEWSOME, 47
Senior VP for Football Operations, Baltimore Ravens
If players want a blueprint for becoming an NFL executive, they'd be wise to study the path of this Hall of Famer. The former Browns tight end was a player personnel director and in 2002 was named the NFL's first black G.M. Since Newsome, the league's 2001 exec of the year, two other NFL teams now have African-American general managers.
KEITH TRIBBLE, 47
Executive Director, Orange Bowl
Not all bowl presidents are white guys who wear ugly blazers. Under Tribble's direction, the Orange Bowl has seen an increase in sponsorship from $300,000 to more than $2 million annually. In 1997 Tribble helped form the Super Alliance, which ultimately became the blueprint for the BCS. So you can thank (or blame) him for the BCS.
KERY DAVIS, 45
Senior VP Sports Programming, HBO
The man picks fights all day. Two years ago Davis became the network's boxing czar, making him one of the most powerful figures in the sport, which relies on HBO for much-needed exposure. His network's fight stable includes Vernon Forrest, Oscar De La Hoya (No. 63), Sugar Shane Mosely and, most important, Roy Jones Jr. (No. 70).
BILLY HUNTER, 60
Executive Director, National Basketball Players Association
The former U.S. attorney presides over the highest-paid union membership in sports. During Hunter's seven-year tenure, the average NBA salary has grown from $2.3 million to $4.6 million. Hunter held the players together during the 1998-99 lockout, but he'll soon be tested again. The current collective bargaining pact expires after next season.
DON NOMURA, 45
Nomura grew up watching, studying and playing baseball in Japan. His stepfather was one of that country's alltime greats, Nankai Hawks catcher Katsuya (Moose) Nomura, the 1965 Triple Crown winner. Don played infield in the Japanese minor leagues for four seasons until 1981 but never conformed to the Japanese game's tradition of sacrificing individuality in favor of team harmony. (He was once benched for two weeks for asking why he wasn't in the starting lineup.) Nomura moved to the U.S. in 1981 in hopes of breaking into baseball as a coach or team executive but instead ended up becoming an agent, primarily for Japanese players and for Americans and Latinos who spent a season or two in Japan.
It was as an agent that Nomura again challenged Japanese tradition. In 1995 he found a loophole in the agreement between the major leagues in Japan and the U.S. that allowed Hideo Nomo, a top pitcher in Japan, to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That move all but destroyed the wall that had prevented Japanese players from jumping to the major leagues.
Today Japanese players are no longer novelties in the U.S., and stars like 2001 American League MVP and Rookie of the Year Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners (No. 54 on SI's list) and New York Yankees outfielder Hideki (Godzilla) Matsui are among the sport's most popular players. This season there were eight Japanese players on Opening Day rosters. Not surprisingly, Nomura feels that's not enough. "[Japan] wants to hang on to its players, but baseball players are artists," he says. "If their soul, feelings and heart are not in that place, it's hard for them to perform. They need a system that allows them to move on to a higher level." — A.W.
JOE DUMARS, 39
President Basketball Operations, Detroit Pistons
He put a clamp on Michael Jordan as a defensive stopper in the late '80s for the two-time champion Pistons. Now he's trying to win a title from the front office. Just three years after Dumars took over, Detroit had the best record in the East this season—in part because Joe bested MJ again, in a key six-player trade with the Wizards before the season.
DAN GUERRERO, 51
Athletic Director, UCLA
How do you let everyone know there's a new sheriff in town? Hire a black football coach after less than eight months on the job. One of only four Latino ADs in Division I-A, Guerrero fired Bob Toledo and hired Karl Dorrell, the Broncos receivers coach, who became only the fourth African-American head coach in Division I-A football.
GENE WASHINGTON, 56
Director of Football Operations, NFL
Washington, a receiver with the 49ers and Lions from 1969 to '79, is judge and jury for NFL players who get too physical on the field. He levies fines and suspensions to discourage excessive and gratuitous hits. Yet Washington's true influence stems from the respect he commands from both management and players alike.
CHARLES WANG, 58,
AND SANJAY KUMAR, 41
Co-owners, New York Islanders
The Islanders were floundering after having had three different owners in four years before the Shanghai-born and Queens-bred Wang and Kumar, a Sri Lankan who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 14 in 1976, purchased the team for $190 million in 2000. The duo procured big-name talent (Alexei Yashin, Michael Peca) and raised the team's payroll to $41 million, helping the Isles make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Wang, a huge basketball fan and a founder of software giant Computer Associates, considered buying the Grizzlies and the Hornets, and many believe he has his eyes on the Nets should the YankeeNets group put the team up for sale. Landing the Nets could entice Nassau County lawmakers to build a revenue-generating new arena in Long Island.
STEVE MILLS, 43
President of Sports Team Operations, Madison Square Garden
Mills manages some $700 million in assets--the combined value of the Rangers, the Knicks and the Liberty, the three teams that occupy the World's Most Famous Arena. He's also got juice a few blocks away at the NBA office, where he spent 16 years, rising to senior vice president. There he helped form and develop the original Dream Team.
ROD GRAVES, 44
Vice President of Football Operations, Arizona Cardinals
After working his way through the Bears and Cardinals organizations, Graves, a former scout, in January became the second of three African-American G.M.'s in the NFL. His charge: turn around a listing franchise with a modest budget. So far he has generated buzz by signing Emmitt Smith, the league's all-time leading rusher.
JORGE HIDALGO, 39
Executive Vice President of Sports, Telemundo
Chances are you got your first taste of Spanish-language television during the 1994 World Cup with Univision announcer Andres Cantor's breathless call: "Goooooooooal!" Cantor may have broadened the exposure of Univision, but it was Hidalgo, the executive in charge of the network's World Cup coverage, who led Univision to the top of the Spanish-language sports market in the U.S.
Four years ago Hidalgo left for rival Telemundo, and he has since established the No. 2 Spanish-language network as the premier Spanish sports programmer. He has acquired the exclusive Spanish-language broadcast rights to matches of the U.S. and Mexican national soccer teams and to televise an NBA game each week (the first time a major American pro league has regularly aired games on a Hispanic network). When Hidalgo arrived, Telemundo had five sports properties; now it has 13. "I came in with a lot of ambition and was given a lot of freedom to turn this place around," he says.
That ambition has been evident since Hidalgo's youth. His parents could not afford to send him to college, so Hidalgo took a job as a cameraman at a Univision station. Now he aspires to lift Telemundo above his former employer in the ratings. "I wouldn't mind if Telemundo decided to open up an all-sports network in Spanish," Hidalgo says. "And, of course, I'd hope they'd put me in charge." — Gene Menez
BILLY KING, 37
General Manager, Philadelphia 76ers
The NBA's youngest G.M.—and the buffer between All-Star Allen Iverson (No. 48) and coach Larry Brown—is fly enough to hang with players and savvy enough to hold his own with executives and agents. Players love his pedigree (King played at Duke); league types value his NBA cred (he was an assistant for four years under Brown with the Pacers).
JAMES HARRIS, 55
Vice President of Player Personnel, Jacksonville Jaguars
In 1969 Harris became the second black quarterback to play in the NFL, and five years later he was the first to start a playoff game. Those experiences groomed Harris as a leader. A terrific talent evaluator—as Baltimore's pro-player personnel director he helped build the 2001 Super Bowl champs. This year he drafted quarterback Byron Leftwich.
DUSTY BAKER, 53
Manager, Chicago Cubs
Never has a black manager been so hot. After taking the Giants to the World Series last season, the three-time manager of the year signed a four-year, $14 million contract with the Cubs. Players love Baker's cool and fans seem to embrace his homespun style. With Lou Piniella and Joe Torre, he may be one of baseball's most recognizable managers.
KIM NG, 34
Vice President and Assistant General Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers
Write it down: Ng may become baseball's first female G.M. She has impressed fellow big league execs, who describe her as tough and intelligent. Before moving to L.A. in 2001, she was an assistant G.M. with the Yankees. Known as a fierce negotiator, Ng has won several high-profile arbitration cases, including one involving Mariano Rivera.
AARON GOODWIN, 42
The man who orchestrated NBA All-Star Gary Payton's mid-year exit from Seattle might soon be the envy of his peers. Why? He's reportedly on the verge of signing LeBron James (No. 101). Goodwin says he's negotiated over $700 million in contracts for his clients, but an alliance with James could make that figure look like meal money.
VENUS WILLIAMS, 22
Not as dominant as she once was, Big Sis is still a force for woman athletes: Her $40 million Reebok contract and endorsement deals with the likes of McDonald's and Doublemint gum are testament to her broad appeal. And though she's lost ground to Little Sis Serena (No. 3), Venus remains a huge draw on the women's tour.
WAYNE COOPER, 46
Vice President of Basketball Operations, Sacramento Kings
A former journeyman center who played 14 seasons in the NBA, Cooper is a major reason the talented Kings have such an international flavor. He oversees day-to-day business, including all scouting. One key move: drafting little-known Serb Peja Stojakovic in 1996, which helped set off the NBA's current influx of foreign players.
BILL STRICKLAND, 54, AND MASON ASHE, 39
They've created one of the largest black-owned sports management agencies, with 30 to 40 clients in professional sports and entertainment including Rasheed Wallace, Allan Houston, Daunte Culpepper and Levon Kirkland. Before forming their company, both cut their teeth at IMG. Strickland was the first black president of the basketball division (he was also at ProServ for eight years) and Ashe was a VP for team sports, representing football and basketball players domestically and abroad. Among their latest projects: launching an ice tour featuring black skaters. Ashe has partnered with Robert Johnson (No. 1) away from the game. Ashe serves on a national subcommittee chaired by Johnson to solicit donations on behalf of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.
MAGIC JOHNSON, 43
Founder and CEO, Magic Johnson Enterprises; VP, Los Angeles Lakers
Forget the five championships and three MVP awards. Johnson, a vice president with the Lakers, has been just as successful in his post-basketball life, bringing several businesses to 65 sites in primarily lower-income areas. Magic, who owns 5% of the Lakers, aspires to buy his own team and raise $1 billion for affordable housing.
EUGENE PARKER, 47
While most top agents are based in a major city—generally on one coast or the other—Parker works out of tiny Roanoke, Ind. He specializes in NFL players and has more than 40 clients, including Emmitt Smith, Ray Lewis, Curtis Martin and Rod Woodson. According to Woodson, players trust the deeply religious Parker because of his values.
CRAIG LITTLEPAGE, 51
Athletic Director, Virginia
Hanging on the wall opposite Littlepage's desk is a lithograph depicting a person with an elongated arm stretching to dunk a basketball into a peach basket atop a pole. The painting, by former NFL offensive lineman Ernie Barnes, is titled High Aspirations, which aptly describes Littlepage's approach to life. Littlepage became the first African-American athletic director in Atlantic Coast Conference history in August 2001 and quickly established himself as a prominent and respected figure in college athletics. Most significantly, he was named in March 2002 to the NCAA's prestigious men's basketball committee, on which he will serve for five years.
At Virginia, Littlepage oversees a $32 million budget and has implemented an ambitious five-year plan to consolidate the department's fund-raising efforts and increase donations by $13 million, substantially higher than current levels. He has also created a lofty mission statement for the department, including graduating 100% of all student-athletes. (According to the latest NCAA figures, Virginia has graduated 44% of its men's basketball players and 88% of its football players over a six-year period.) "It would have been very easy to have moved forward while maintaining the status quo," Littlepage says. "But I want to do something extraordinary."
In a sense he already has. Littlepage was born and raised near Philadelphia in the predominantly black town of LaMott, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad before the abolition of slavery. He played basketball at Penn, and after serving as an assistant coach at three schools, he returned to his alma mater as head coach in 1982. After guiding the Quakers to the NCAA tournament in '85, he moved to Rutgers, where he went 23-63 in three seasons. In '88 he went to Virginia as an assistant coach and two years later became an assistant athletic director.
Just like the elongated figure in Barnes's painting, Littlepage has at times stretched himself thin. Before the Virginia-Florida State football game last August in Tallahassee, Littlepage, who had gotten little sleep in the previous 72 hours due to a hectic business travel schedule, collapsed outside Doak Campbell Stadium. In five minutes he regained consciousness, and doctors later determined that he had not suffered a heart attack or a stroke. The diagnosis? Fatigue and dehydration. "I had nothing wrong with me," he says, "except I was trying to do too much." — G.M.
STU JACKSON, 47
Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations, NBA
Call him the NBA's Dean of Discipline, though some lighter-in-the-wallet players and coaches surely have their own pet names for this former coach and G.M. He has significant influence within David Stern's cozy inner circle and chairs the league's competition committee, which recommends rule changes to the Board of Governors.
ALLEN IVERSON, 27
Guard, Philadelphia 76ers
Revered for staying true to his roots—and for playing bigger than his 6-foot frame—Iverson may have more street cred than any other professional athlete, and that translates into big bucks. The 2000-01 MVP, Iverson has a lifetime contract with Reebok, which produces a top-selling Answer 6 sneaker, worth more than $7 million a year.
MIKE GARRETT, 59
Athletic Director, USC
One of the most prominent minority ADs in Division I athletics, the 1965 Heisman Trophy winner oversees a department with a $34 million budget at the school where he ran for glory as a tailback. In 10 years at USC, Garrett has added 42 women's scholarships and boosted athletic fund-raising to record levels.
C. LAMONT SMITH, 45
In the mid-1980s Smith was one of the first black sports agents to achieve a modicum of success in the NFL. Now, with more than 50 clients, he's one of the most respected agents. In 2000 he negotiated the deal that made Eddie George the highest-paid running back, and a year later, he helped make Trevor Pryce the highest-paid defensive player.
TUBBY SMITH, 51
Basketball Coach, Kentucky
Since taking over a storied program that didn't take a black player until 1969, Smith has gone 164-47 and won an NCAA title. A mentor for young African-American coaches, he recently signed an eight-year, $20.25 million extension.
ISIAH THOMAS, 42
Coach, Indiana Pacers
Whether or not you doubt this Thomas, he's a dynamo who has worked in nearly every facet of the business. Now, the former All-Star and world champion is trying to lead the Pacers to their first title since a '73 ABA crown.
BOB WATSON, 57
Vice President, Major League Baseball
Although he's no longer in the limelight—he was the Yankees' G.M. from October 1995 to February '98, a tenure that included one world championship—Watson maintains a vital presence as baseball's discipline czar.
ICHIRO SUZUKI, 29
Outfielder, Seattle Mariners
This Japanese star became the face of globalization in 2001, when he won the AL MVP. He dispelled the long-held notion that only pitchers, not position players, could make the jump from Japan to the major leagues.
FELIPE ALOU, 67
Manager, San Francisco Giants
Alou has been a mentor for Latinos since becoming a skipper in '92. He says he hasn't retired because he believes his departure would hinder the progress of other Latinos seeking to become managers.
ED TAPSCOTT, 49
Executive Vice President and COO, Charlotte NBA franchise
The architect of Charlotte's new team, Tapscott will hire the coach and G.M. and even pick the team's name. With owner Robert Johnson's aim to nurture minorities, Tapscott will have the chance to make a significant impact.
GENE SMITH, 47
Athletic Director, Arizona State
After a solid seven-year run as Iowa State AD, Smith didn't waste any time upon arriving in Tempe in 2000. He replaced the football coach and reduced the athletic department's deficit from $3.6 million to $1 million.
RAY ANDERSON, 49
Executive VP and Chief Administrative Officer, Atlanta Falcons
When Anderson joined the Falcons' front office in 2002, the Stanford and Harvard Law graduate had already made a name for himself as a no-nonsense negotiator on the other side of the bargaining table. During his 23-year career as a sports agent and legal adviser, Anderson was known for his tirelessness and outspoken advocacy of his clients' interests. Now he stares down some of his former clients as the Falcons' lead negotiator. "The part I've enjoyed most," he says, "has been working with former colleagues and competitors. I say, 'I know you, you know me, so let's get right to it and deal.'"
As an agent Anderson had more than 45 clients, including current NFL coaches Herman Edwards and Marvin Lewis and Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham. When he felt his African-American coaching clients weren't getting a fair deal, Anderson wasn't afraid to speak out publicly. "I established myself as an advocate [for minority coaches] early on because I was always polished and because I had [better credentials] than most agents," he says.
A former labor lawyer, Anderson entered the sports arena in 1980 when he launched the West Coast office for the now-defunct Sports Advisers Group. At first some potential clients and team negotiators didn't want to deal with Anderson. He pressed on, acquiring clients, and in 1987 he formed his own agency, AR Sports. Fourteen years later Anderson sold his lucrative business to Octagon, where he stayed as director of the company's coaches division until last June, when Arthur Blank, the Falcons' new owner, came calling. Says Anderson, "I was excited about the opportunity to put together a winning team." — Elizabeth Newman
HERMAN FRAZIER, 48
Athletic Director, Hawaii
In addition to overseeing a $16 million budget at Hawaii, Frazier, an Olympic track gold medalist in '76, was recently named chef de mission for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. He'll oversee logistical details for the U.S. team.
HERMAN EDWARDS, 49
Coach, New York Jets
With his impassioned intensity and back-to-back playoff appearances, he has won over Jets fans and the media. In 2001 Edwards became the first alumnus of the NFL's Minority Coaching Fellowship program to land a top job.
KELVIN SAMPSON, 47
Basketball Coach, Oklahoma
In nine seasons in Norman, Sampson has returned hoops to prominence at this football power. A Lumbee Indian, he has a 390-229 record and has made 10 straight NCAA tournaments, reaching the Final Four in 2002.
ALEX RODRIGUEZ, 27
Shortstop, Texas Rangers
He changed baseball's salary structure when he signed a $252 million contract in 2000. The youngest player to reach 300 homers, A-Rod pledged $3.9 million over six years last October to the University of Miami.
OSCAR DE LA HOYA, 30
A world champion in five weight classes, De La Hoya has become the most marketable non-heavyweight in boxing. He's also the first Hispanic to own a national boxing promotional firm, which markets other Latino fighters.
DEANA GARNER, 37
Associate Director of Agent, Gambling, and Amateurism Activities, NCAA
Your luck is usually up if Garner starts scrutinizing you. A prosecutor in Indianapolis for more than seven years, she is one of the NCAA's leading investigators, coordinating 75 to 80 investigations at any one time.
LARRY MILLER, 53
President, Jordan Brand
How do you extend Michael Jordan's influence into the 21st century? That's the job of Miller, who runs Nike's $320 million Jordan division, which debuted in 1997 and features footwear, apparel and accessories.
TONY DUNGY, 47
Coach, Indianapolis Colts
One of three black head coaches in the NFL, Dungy heads the Colts after leading Tampa Bay to respectability. As a Chiefs' coach in 1990 he gave Herman Edwards (No. 60) his first NFL job, as a scout, then as an assistant.
JOHNNIE COCHRAN, 65
Last September he and fellow lawyer Cyrus Mehri called out the NFL, criticizing the league's head-coach hiring practices. As a result most teams are interviewing at least one minority candidate for every opening.
JOHN CHANEY, 71
Basketball Coach, Temple
Chaney has long instilled in his players invaluable life lessons and fought NCAA rules that he felt hurt minority athletes. He has won a few games too; in 31 seasons he's 693-269, with 17 NCAA tournament appearances.
LENNOX LEWIS, 37
He who controls the heavyweight division controls boxing, and the 6'5" Brit is alone at the top of the sport. If Lewis ever fought Roy Jones Jr., it would most likely be the most lucrative fight in the history of boxing.
ROY JONES JR., 34
Pound for pound he's the world's best fighter. He's also the sport's biggest wild card. With talk of a Lewis fight, does he fight Evander Holyfield for $10 million? Or go for bigger bucks ($100 million, perhaps) against Mike Tyson?
PETER WESTBROOK, 51
A bronze medalist at the 1984 Olympics, Westbrook was the first African-American fencer to win an Olympic medal. Now his foundation supplies the U.S. with fresh talent. Three of nine 2000 Olympians were Westbrook-trained.
DOC RIVERS, 41
Coach, Orlando Magic
A cerebral point guard during his 13-year NBA career, Rivers is one of the league's brightest young coaches, having led the Magic to three straight playoff appearances. Coveted by other teams, he is a future general manager.
MARVIN LEWIS, 44
Coach, Cincinnati Bengals
Can he save the woebegone Bengals? Drafting Carson Palmer No. 1 is a good start. Lewis, who built the defense that made the Ravens the 2001 Super Bowl champions, has more power than any recent Cincinnati coach.
MICHAEL WILBON, 44
Co-host, Pardon the Interruption; Columnist, The Washington Post
Amid the cacophony of 24-hour sports talk, Wilbon (with fellow scribe Tony Kornheiser) gives fans the smartest take to be found on TV. His columns are also insightful and reach a powerful audience in the nation's capital.
CHARLES BARKLEY, 40
He speaks. People listen. No other jock-turned-pundit opines so entertainingly on topics from Martha Burk to the T-Wolves' mental block about the Lakers. ("The only people who think they can win are their wives and girlfriends.")
FRANK ROBINSON, 67
Manager, Montreal Expos
Robinson remains one of the most respected figures in baseball. He was sport's first African-American manager, with Cleveland in 1975, and is now a member of the Hall of Fame's board of directors.
MICHAEL VICK, 22
Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons
Vick is a thrill to watch—and the Falcons have the attendance figures to prove it. Last year they sold out every home game for the first time since 1992. Vick is one of the NFL's rising stars; his jersey is the league's No. 3 seller.
JAMES TANNER JR., 34
Tanner handles contract negotiations and general business matters for Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Chamique Holdsclaw and Shane Battier, among others. He was a senior adviser for the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.
WARRICK DUNN, 28
Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
Dunn is the Falcons' top rusher, but his impact is even greater off the field. Since 1997 his Homes for the Holidays program has helped 37 single mothers buy houses by providing them with the down payment and the furnishings.
BRYANT GUMBEL, 54
In a sports television universe that values sound bites, Gumbel is an anomaly. His monthly show, Real Sports, produces the best sports journalism on TV, and Gumbel is heavily involved in story selection, writing and editing.
STUART SCOTT, 37
Say what you want about his style, but Scott has changed the way we talk by infusing an urban flavor and his signature phrases ("Boo-yah") into the sports vernacular. He's arguably the most popular anchor on SportsCenter.
PAMELA WHEELER, 36
Director of Operations, WNBA Players Association
With the WNBA season in jeopardy, Wheeler faced off with David Stern and came away with the league's second collective bargaining agreement. The deal created free agency and forestalled some of the cutbacks Stern sought.
JOE LOUIS BARROW, 55
Executive Director, The First Tee
Tiger Woods isn't the only one bringing golf to the masses. Barrow (Joe Louis's son) has helped raise $150 million for junior golf. He oversees a $29 million budget and manages 12,000 volunteers and 1,000 full-time workers.
PETER BYNOE, 52
Bynoe, a former Nuggets co-owner, has negotiated stadium deals for the Reds, Bengals, Brewers, Redskins and 49ers, and assisted in the '94 redevelopment of Soldier Field. Among his clients: Michael Jordan and Donovan McNabb.
DOUG WILLIAMS, 47
Football Coach, Grambling State
Could a black quarterback ever win the Super Bowl? Williams put the question to rest. Perhaps the best-known coach in black college sports, Williams is proving to be a worthy successor to the legendary Eddie Robinson.
LEAH WILCOX, 44
Vice President of Player and Talent Relations, NBA Entertainment
Mention Wilcox's name to anyone in the NBA fraternity and you're likely to get the same reaction: a smile and a nod of approval. She may have the most influence over players and executives of anyone in the league. "Leah has a way about her that just entices the guys to listen to her," says Toronto Raptors center Antonio Davis.
Known for her personable demeanor and omnipresent BlackBerry, Wilcox has the job of lining up players to make appearances. She has also helped several players, including New Orleans Hornets forward Jamal Mashburn, jump-start business ventures. In 1996 Wilcox helped create Mothers of Professional Basketball Players, a support organization for women with sons or daughters in the NBA or the WNBA.
Players refer to Wilcox as Big Sis and are impressed with her celebrity connections. NBA executives love her ability to relate to the players. "I try to be the liaison between players and the league," she says. "I let them know, whatever they need me to do to help them get started, I am here." — E.N.
KEVEN DAVIS, 45
Davis has represented the Williams family for more than a decade and advises Venus and Serena on major deals. In 2000 he negotiated Venus's $40 million Reebok deal, the biggest endorsement contract ever for a female athlete.
REGGIE WILLIAMS, 48
Vice President, Disney Sports Attractions
When you wish upon a star, the former Bengals star linebacker can get you there. With a staff of 2,000, Williams handles marketing, sales and sponsorship for Disney's Wide World of Sports, which hosts 180 athletic events a year.
ROB EVANS, 56
Basketball Coach, Arizona State
The highly respected Evans came to Tempe in '98 after building Ole Miss into a power. He's boosted ASU's graduation rate, improved recruiting and given a tarnished program a new image. He's also active in several charities.
HANK AARON, 69
Senior Vice President, Atlanta Braves
The all-time home run king continues to go to bat for minorities, calling for more blacks in baseball front offices. In addition to working in the Braves' front office, he owns 18 restaurants and a car dealership.
TERESA PHILLIPS, 44
Athletic Director, Tennessee State
One of only 24 female ADs in Division I, she's cleaning up a troubled department. She raised her profile this year by stepping in as men's hoops coach after suspending the coach for the team's involvement in a bench-clearing brawl.
JAROME IGINLA, 25
Right Wing, Calgary Flames
The first black player to win NHL goal and scoring titles is an asset to the league's effort to attract minority youth. Can he do for hockey what Tiger has done for golf? "I'd love to be a role model for [young minorities]," he says.
SE RI PAK, 25
Known in Asia as the female Tiger Woods, Pak, the LPGA's No. 2 player, has won 20 titles. She's also partly responsible for a wave of Asian talent to hit the tour; three of the top six players on the 2002 money list were Korean.
RUDY DAVALOS, 63
Athletic Director, New Mexico
Davalos, the AD at Houston in the late 1980s, oversees 21 sports and a $20 million budget. He's known as a fund-raising ace whose marketing and promotions programs bring in more than $6 million annually.
MORRIS DAVENPORT, 46
Senior Coordinating Producer, ESPN
When college coaches and players want to go into broadcasting they call this man. The force behind College GameDay, Davenport, a former Western Michigan defensive back, oversees ESPN's college football and golf production.
SONNY HILL, 66
Philadelphia basketball guru
Think Allen Iverson is the king of Philly hoops? Guess again. All bow to Hill, whose 35-year-old summer leagues are legend. An adviser to the 76ers, Hill also runs tutoring and counseling programs.
LISA LESLIE, 30
Center, Los Angeles Sparks
The face of the WNBA is a glamorous one. Leslie has won two Olympic gold medals and two league titles, and has contracts with Nike, Gatorade and a modeling agency. Until another star emerges, the WNBA needs Leslie.
C. VIVIAN STRINGER, 55
Women's Basketball Coach, Rutgers
A women's hoops legend, Stringer is the only coach—male or female—to have taken three schools (Cheyney, Iowa and Rutgers) to the Final Four. She is one of the highest-paid ($410,000) coaches in women's sports.
SATISH SANAN, 55
Owner, Padua Stables
In the sport of kings Sanan, who was born in India, has a kingdom like few others. Since he entered the business in 1997, his Florida stable has grown to nearly 250 horses and has produced two Breeders' Cup champions.
DAMON EVANS, 33
Senior Associate Athletic Director, Georgia
A former Dawgs wide receiver, Evans has fast-tracked his way to the No. 2 spot behind Vince Dooley in Athens. He had a significant voice in the recent hiring of basketball coach Dennis Felton, an African-American.
LEBRON JAMES, 18
The Chosen One? Who's to argue? Pick James or Carmelo Anthony at No. 1? Please. James will put fannies in the seats throughout the NBA. Indeed, the next time SI compiles this list, say, in a decade, he just might be near the top.
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