Swin Cash added as latest effort to improve quality, perception of Pelicans management
The New Orleans Pelicans officially introduced Swin Cash as their new Vice President of Basketball Operations/Team Development during a conference call with media Tuesday.
Cash comes to New Orleans after building an impressive record of success both on and off the court. She won two national championships at UConn and three more in the WNBA. Cash was also a gold medal winner in 2004 and 2012.
Since retiring from professional basketball in 2016, Cash has worked as Director of Franchise Development with the WNBA’s New York Liberty, where she worked with both the business and basketball operations of the franchise, making her the first former player to assume such a role in the league.
the relationship between Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin and Cash goes back to their days working for Turner Sports. Griffin revealed that they had spoken about Cash’s future long before the Pelicans were on his radar.
“As soon as we had the opportunity to reach back out to her we did so,” he said. “This is a concerted effort on our part to continue to collect as many of the best and brightest.”
Griffin again praised team owner Gayle Benson for her commitment to the franchise, calling it “absolute,” and cited this latest hiring (following those of Trajan Langdon and Aaron Nelson) as further proof that the Pelicans will try to assemble the highest caliber of talent possible in every sector.
“You’re starting to see us start to build something that can be very special here and every hire we make is about our continued and sustained excellence and the commitment that Mrs. Benson has made to this.”
Though their discussions had been off and on, Cash focused on her successful media career, one that began dating back to her playing days, up until Griffin brought her in for a visit. It didn’t take long for her to see and embrace the vision and direction that was being laid out.
After consulting with her family, she was ready to go.
“It just felt like this timing was right,” said Cash. “To come to New Orleans and be part of a culture and be able to contribute in all aspects of what Griff is trying to build and do here was something that was very appealing to me.”
“I always say, your reputation precedes you,” she said of her new boss. I had an opportunity to work with him, but I also do my homework…there wasn’t one person that had anything bad to say about him.”
It’s just as hard to find anyone with something negative to say about Cash. The hiring has been lauded across basketball circles. Swin Cash also becomes the highest ranking woman of color in the NBA. It’s a rare position, and Cash recognizes the honor and the responsibility that comes with that. But make no mistake, Swin Cash was hired because of her basketball and business accumen, not her gender.
“The thing that really sold me on New Orleans is that I was being evaluated and interviewed and talked to for this position because of my basketball background; because of my skill set and the ability to come help the team,” said Cash.
“I think I would be a little bit naive if I didn’t understand the importance of me being a woman, a woman of color, and what that reflects outwardly to the community and to other women wanting to be in this position. I think that just having this opportunity…I take a lot of responsibility with that.”
Asked about the specifics of her role, Cash stated that she’ll be filling in wherever Griffin needs her. It echoed the statements Langdon made upon his hiring. Griffin has made versatility a priority in filling out his staff, expecting a collaborative effort from the group.
“You never really know what’s going to be called for at any given time,” Griffin said of his approach. “So to have people who are as capable, as high-quality as the people as the people that we’re being able to add to this staff is really important. Every single point of contact in this franchise has to be part of driving us towards what we really care about, and that’s winning. And it’s about winning the right way, in a way that reflects the ethos of our community.”
“Winning” is the word that Griffin has used most often since joining the Pelicans, followed closely by “culture” and “commitment.” An understanding of those principles is what he’s targeting with each hire.
“One of the things that stands out about everyone we’ve hired, and Swin is a great example of this…winning is a frequency,” he continued. “You don’t learn how to tune to it unless you’ve had to do it. And Swin knows how to find that frequency…She understands how to raise people to feel that and to see that.”
The Pelicans continue to work to turn the page on their disappointments of the past. The new regime won’t dwell on it or be burdened by it. Swin Cash crystalized her thoughts on dealing with the perceptions of what the Pelicans have been.
“I like to stay in the present, and I always look to the future,” she said. “I see some really positive things happening. What I know basketball-wise is culture, what I know is people, and that’s what attracted me here to New Orleans. I can’t speak about things in the past, but what I speak about is what’s being built right now, and that’s why I’m excited to be a part of it.”
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David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…