Pacers’ Peter Dinwiddie named to IBJ’s Forty Under 40

Pacers front office executive Peter Dinwiddie was named to the Indianapolis Business Journal’s annual Forty Under 40 list, which was revealed in the newspaper’s latest edition.

The list is compiled of “rising stars” in Indianapolis who have had great success “at work and in the community.”

Dinwiddie, the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations, is part of what I like to call the Pacers’ four-headed monster which includes President Larry Bird, General Manager Kevin Pritchard, and Consultant Donnie Walsh.

Peter Dinwiddie joined the Pacers in January, 2006.

His story is a unique, and one that is still told — to college students and young adults, in particular, aspiring to work in sports — inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse and at sports conferences around the country. He so badly wanted to work in sports that he accepted a ticket sales position with the Pacers in 2006. With a law degree.

Walsh, the team’s CEO and President at the time, found out he had a young man with a law degree not only working in the ticket office — but also atop the sales charts.

The two met, and Walsh gave Dinwiddie tasks to see if he had what takes to work in a front office. These tasks required research, outside-the-box thinking, and time outside office hours, of course. Sure enough, Walsh and others were impressed.

Less than three years in, Dinwiddie moved into a front office role. Now using his law degree, brilliant mind, and grasp for the NBA’s 598-page Collective Bargaining Agreement, Dinwiddie helps the Pacers seek out free agents they can afford, structure deals that work for their salary cap, and more.

[Podcast with Dinwiddie from a year ago]

As anyone who knows him will tell you, Dinwiddie is one smart guy.

And he’s a lifelong Hoosier. He is a graduate of Cathedral High School and Indiana University (1999). He then attended New England Law School in Boston (2004).

“These guys in Indiana, from Peter Dinwiddie to Ryan Carr to Donnie Walsh to Larry Bird, these guys are the best people in the world to ever do business with,” an agent told years ago. “Seriously. I’ve dealt with every NBA team. I’ve been around these guys for a long time and with God as my witness, that operations staff at Indiana has got to be the classist group of people I’ve ever met in my entire life.”

From his IBJ profile:

Age: 39

Birthplace/hometown: Indianapolis

Family: wife, Jessica; children, Houston, 8; Michael, 6; Lou, 4; and Ruth Ann, 2

Education: bachelor’s in public policy, Indiana University; law degree, New England School of Law. As an undergraduate, Dinwiddie was doing research on sports executives in different front offices. “A lot of the execs didn’t have backgrounds in sports,” he noted. “But they had law degrees. I decided that I wanted to go to law school and try to use that to get into the sports industry.”

Years with company: 11

Getting here: Dinwiddie worked as a contract attorney for Finish Line before joining the Pacers, first as an account executive (leading his department in ticket sales), then as a group event specialist, group sales manager, director/basketball administration and, in 2012, as vice president of basketball operations.

Transitional professional moment: “Being fortunate enough to have Donnie [Walsh] mentor me while I was attempting to transition from the business side of the operation to the basketball side.”

On consistency: The Pacers have the longest-tenured ownership in the NBA. During Dinwiddie’s time there, Walsh, Larry Bird, or both, have always been there. “That’s been the real reason we’ve had some success … to have that continuity and stability overseeing the operation gives us one of the top cultures in all of sports.”

The goal: “Our goal every year is to win … put a team together that’s going to win games and represent in a positive manner. It impacts the bottom line if the product isn’t as good as we think it can be.”

On the alleged off-season: “That’s really our busiest time,” he said. “It’s the most stressful time. We’re trying to retool the team, to fix the holes we’ve identified. … Off-season is when a lot of those moves occur.”

Major company achievements: “Reaching the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons and winning the Central Division in 2013 and 2014.”

Recent business challenge faced: “Due to the league’s new media deal which began this season, the league’s salary cap increased by $24 million, so, as a small-market franchise, Larry had to determine how to build a playoff team while maintaining an overall player payroll which did not exceed the league’s salary-cap threshold,” Dinwiddie said. “I was able to strategize with Larry and Kevin [Pritchard], and we decided to be aggressive in the trade market as a means to build a roster we believe will make the playoffs while also not exceeding our internal payroll budget.”

The ad Pacers Sports & Entertainment took out in the IBJ to celebrate one of their own.

There are no comments yet. Be the first and leave a response!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL