Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Linda Luchetti is one of only a handful of female executives in an NBA front office, but it isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. She describes herself as team mom and shares a tiny office with three other staffers. The office borders the team’s practice court, and its floor-to-ceiling window is sometimes tattooed with sweaty handprints and even face prints.
“The players like to stretch against it,” she says, laughing. “Some of them like to make faces at me.”
She climbed on a chair to clean them off.
Luchetti’s official title is vice president of basketball operations for the Utah Jazz, a title held by only one other woman in the league. The title connotes that she is evaluating and sorting through basketball talent. Not so.
“I honestly don’t know a lot about basketball,” she says. “And I was not a good athlete. I won Most Inspirational. Consistently.”
Her job description is not easy to define, even for Luchetti. Before this interview, she called Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey to ask him exactly how she could describe her job.
“We’re still trying to define it,” she says. “It was really broad and vague when I took the job. Not many teams are doing this around the league.”
So what does she do? “I’m a high-level concierge for our players and their families,” she says. “That’s a pretty good way to put it.”
Instead of doing public relations for the team with the outside world, she performs PR with the players.
“It’s about player retention and recruitment,” she explains. “What can we do to be the best in the league at creating an atmosphere that our players want to be in and stay in?”
Luchetti’s job is to make life easier for players and their families. She is the team’s can-do facilitator.
If players need help finding a school or child care or a real estate agent or English lessons, they call Luchetti. Who does she know? Who does she trust?
“It’s what I do; why not call me?” she says.
Finding a plumber or even, say, a mattress, is not as simple as it sounds, given the players’ visibility. In 2012, 6-foot-10 center Al Jefferson ordered a giant 10-by-12-foot (120-square-foot) mattress. According to Luchetti, during the delivery process someone took a photo of the mattress and invoice, which of course revealed the price: $23,287. You know what happened next. It was posted on the Internet.
“I make sure that (companies) don’t send anyone to a player’s home who will tweet information like that,” says Luchetti.
She receives calls 24/7 from players or members of their families. She has been called in the middle of the night when a family member couldn’t reach a player on the road. She helps when a child or a player becomes ill (she says the Jazz have “a relationship” with University Medical Center and Primary Children’s Hospital — and Luchetti meets them at the hospital). She's been called upon when someone tried to break into a player's house (the player called Luchetti and the police, and Luchetti sent a security expert to the house to check the locks), when someone sent his children to the door of a players’ house for an autograph and when someone else showed up at a player’s door late at night.
“I’m the players’ connection to the team,” says Luchetti.
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