After spending 20-plus years working in the NBA, Bubba Burrage was named general manager of the Bakersfield Jam when the D-League team became a partner with the Phoenix Suns this summer. Before becoming the GM, Burrage had worked as a scout and as an assistant for the Suns and the Sacramento Kings, but his basketball experience really began back when he was a child.
He was born into a basketball family.
“My grandfather was a coach in high school, and I had four uncles that played in college,” Burrage said. “We’d go to family events and they were always out there playing basketball.”
Burrage thought that he was destined to play in the NBA. He looked up to players like Magic Johnson, Dr. J and Larry Bird, which led him to develop his strong passion for the game. It wasn’t really until his college years that Burrage thought he might end up doing something else.
More from Valley of the Suns
- Ranking the Phoenix Suns’ 5 holiday games in 2023-24
- Zion Williamson gets compared to Phoenix Suns legend
- Suns player preview: Bol Bol can be the perfect role player
- Former Suns’ guard shows he is officially done with Phoenix
- NBA insider guarantees Suns’ rival won’t make blockbuster trade
“I actually started my college at Indiana State, and I felt like I was going to follow in Larry Bird’s footsteps,” Burrage said. “But after my first couple days in practice I had a bit of a rude awakening.”
Shortly after, Burrage transferred out of Indiana State, and he would eventually end up at Cal-Poly, which at the time was a Division II school. It was there that Burrage found his first real basketball opportunity as an intern working as a video coordinator for the Kings.
Burrage worked his way up the chain, eventually becoming an assistant coach with Sacramento before ending up working for the Suns. Burrage’s time in Phoenix was up in the air two summers ago when the Suns hired new general manager Ryan McDonough. Burrage said his first experience with McDonough really told him a lot about the young GM.
“He told me that he knew there were some good people in the organization and that he didn’t just want to come in and clean up,” Burrage said. “He has this way about him that shows he really knows what he’s doing, and I really think highly of him in that regard.”
Since that time, Burrage has continued to work with the Suns, although now he’ll be involved in a different side of things as the general manager of the Jam. Burrage will try to construct a team that can match the style of play as the Suns, with the ability to get up and down the court while playing intense defense to lead to those fastbreak opportunities. While this will be his first year as a D-League GM, Burrage said that he already sees the organization as being successful for years to come.
“I’m really optimistic about both sides,” Burrage said. “I’m really optimistic with where the Suns are going, and I’m really optimistic with what we have in the pipe line.”