John Crotty might be one of the busiest guys in South Florida. As a commercial real estate broker, he works deals throughout the region, including this year’s $18.5 million sale of Professional Center at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens.
As a sports broadcaster, the former NBA player calls radio broadcasts of the Miami Heat and appears on television before and after Heat games.
“The challenge is always balancing everything,” Crotty says. “I’m super-efficient with my time. I always try to make sure I’m putting the clients first and making priority lists.”
In one concession to sane scheduling, Crotty doesn’t travel with the Heat. For home games, after working a full day at the office of commercial real estate brokerage Avison Young, Crotty travels to the Heat’s arena in downtown Miami. He arrives two hours before the game and talks to coaches and players to glean insight he can provide during broadcasts.
For away games, Crotty, 48, drives to a television studio in Fort Lauderdale, where he appears on pre-game and post-game shows.
“I love the challenge and the balancing act of my work life and my fun basketball life, which has been part of who I am for a long, long time,” Crotty says.
A high school all-American from New Jersey, Crotty played in college at the University of Virginia as a 6-foot-1 point guard. A career backup who spent 11 years in the NBA, Crotty played five seasons with the Utah Jazz and one with the Miami Heat.
His most active season came in 1994-95, when Crotty appeared in nearly every game, coming off the bench to spell future Hall of Famer John Stockton. Crotty averaged 3.7 points and 2.6 assists that season.
As a journeyman, Crotty never made huge money in the NBA. His total salary over 11 seasons was $5.6 million, according to basketball-reference.com, topped by a $1 million annual pay late in his career.
Hometown: I grew up in Spring Lake, New Jersey. I live in Coral Gables.
First job: Having my own landscaping business, Crotty Inc. I learned how to source my own business, how to negotiate with people. It was great. It gave me spending money, and it taught me to be accountable. Sometimes I’d underbid a project and realize I’d bit off more than I could chew. The amounts I charged varied. My lowest was $10 and my highest was $40. That’s going way back.
Biggest challenge: Just making sure I balance my time in an efficient way. I never want to over-commit myself, where I can’t deliver on a promise I’ve made to a client. I also need to make sure I have enough personal time to work out, to relax, to spend time with my wife. Sometimes I have to just disconnect. Technology makes you more productive, but it also means people can reach you any time.
Best business advice you’ve received: Always do what’s in the best interest of the person you’re trying to serve. If you do that, the money will come as a result. Your reputation will continue to stay positive, and it will resonate above the people who are trying to take the short-term, quick-fix approach. I specialize in developing relationships.
Best business book you’ve read: “Once An Eagle” by Anton Myrer. It’s not really a business book. It’s a novel about two Army officers. It’s about more than just glory or short-term recognition. It’s about trying to do the right thing to the best of your ability.
Big break in business: Making it in the NBA. I had to do it the hard way. I wasn’t drafted, and I had to play in a minor league for a year, and then in the summer developmental league. After a year, I signed a one-year contract with the Utah Jazz that paid $140,000. To me, it was all the money in the world. But more important than the money was being able to realize my dream of playing at the highest level. On the business side, one of my best friends is Michael Fay, who is now my partner at Avison Young. I was friends with him while I was still playing, and when I retired, he made a suggestion that he thought I would be a good fit for the real estate business. He really mentored me for the first two years of my career.
Were there lessons from your NBA career that you apply to your business life? Definitely. The first thing is work ethic. You’ve got to have a hard work ethic in whatever you do. The other thing is discipline. In real estate, it’s making the calls and taking the meetings. I’m relentless in my approach. And perseverance. In sports, you lose. You have ups and downs. You get kicked, you get knocked down, and when you’re a professional athlete, it’s very public — everybody knows. In business, you certainly have huge ups and downs. It’s emotionally challenging.
Who are more cutthroat — NBA players or commercial real estate brokers? It’s a dead-even tie. But it’s different. Basketball players are more physical, visceral, in your face. In commercial real estate, we’re working on deals over a long period of time.
Biggest business mistake: It’s not a mistake, it’s a challenge: Moving from being a professional athlete to a career in business. It’s a very, very hard transition. You’re used to being treated a certain way as a professional athlete. It’s almost a fantasy world. When you move into the business world, you’re dealing with people who might appreciate what you did as a former professional athlete, but who ultimately want to know what value-add you can provide to them. It’s very, very humbling. A lot of guys struggle with that, because it’s hard.
Traits you look for when hiring: I look for people with positive attitudes. I look for people who are technically proficient at what they need to do. And I look for team players.
By Jeff Ostrowski – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
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