In 1977, a 16-year-old Allen Lumpkin submitted a 25-word application to the Philadelphia Daily News in response to an open contest ad from the Philadelphia 76ers. The chosen applicant would become a ballboy for the team for the duration of the ‘77 season. Lumpkin won the contest and happily manned his awarded role. Over four decades later, Lumpkin is still with the team as the executive director of team logistics for the Sixers.
On Monday, Nov. 21, Lumpkin spoke about his lifelong career with his beloved team at “Pizza With the Pros.”
Lumpkin’s persistence and dedication are the defining characteristics of his longevity. There are very few positions within the organization that he hasn’t held, from game-day operations to team operations. Lumpkin saw his unique opportunity as a 16-year-old and ran with it.
“I asked if I could come back the following year,” he said. “I kept coming back and I kept coming back and so I kept that job as a ballboy until we won the championship in 1982-83 and I was 21, 22 at the time and I didn’t figure I could be a ballboy for the rest of my life.”
Following the 76ers’ championship win, Lumpkin was promoted and held a position within the ticket office for a few seasons. Then, due to an internal retirement, Lumpkin was named equipment manager in 1988.
“I love what I do. 40 years later, I still love what I do,” Lumpkin said. “I love the athletes, I love being around the players. It’s been an incredible ride. I’ve seen the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows, but I’m dedicated.”
The title of executive director of team logistics is recently for Lumpkin, though he was performing similar duties before the label.
“I handle hotels, buses, I handle charter, Amtrak charter — any travel with the team, I handle it,” he said. “I handle every aspect of our team travel, our Summer League travel, individual travel for players who, if we bring a guy in free agency, things like that.”
Lumpkin must coordinate a traveling party of around 60 people for each road game and potentially road playoff games. As soon as the NBA releases its draft of the league schedule, Lumpkin gets to work.
“You decide how you want to travel, what you want to travel, you get all of that calculated and then you start calling hotels and you start making your plans and say, ‘Okay, this is what we’re gonna do, this is how many rooms you’re gonna need, this what we’re gonna have for breakfast and lunch.’ It’s like a jigsaw puzzle,” Lumpkin said.
The other side of Lumpkin’s position is being a positive force within the players’ corners. Lumpkin has come to establish friendships with Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson and current Sixers players. Keeping the trust of the players while maintaining a warm presence for them is paramount.
“You have to be trustworthy,” Lumpkin said. “NBA players, probably all professional athletes, you gotta keep their trust. There are things that you’re gonna know, things you’re gonna see, things that you know about. There are things that I’m gonna take to my grave because that’s just how it is — guys know that they can trust me.”
Doug Gausephol, the senior manager of social media marketing for the MLB and a 2013 Rowan grad, joins “Pizza With the Pros” on Monday, Nov. 28.
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