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Wayne Embry

Basketball team manager and basketball player Wayne Richard Embry was born on March 26, 1937 in Springfield, Ohio. After graduating from Tecumseh High School, Embry attended Miami University and graduated in 1958 with his B.S. degree in education. While there, he was a star basketball player in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

In 1958, Embry was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks in the third round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) player draft. Embry went on to play in the NBA from 1959 to 1969 for several successful franchises, including the Cincinnati Royals and the Milwaukee Bucks. He played with NBA Hall of Fame inductee Bill Russell and contributed significantly to the Boston Celtics team that won the 1968 NBA Championship. In 1972, Embry was named general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks and became the first African American general manager in NBA league history, as well as the first black general manager of a major U.S. team sport. From 1985 to 1992, Embry served as vice president and general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He went on to become the first African American NBA team president with the Cavaliers in 1994. Under the guidance of Embry, the Cleveland Cavaliers averaged forty-five wins and had nine playoff appearances over twelve seasons. Embry was appointed senior basketball advisor to the general manager for the Toronto Raptors in 2004, and then became the senior advisor to the president one year later. On January 26, 2006, Embry was named interim general manager for the Raptors.

Embry was selected to play on the National Basketball Association’s All-Pro team in five consecutive seasons between 1961 and 1965. He was chosen as “NBA Executive of the Year” by Sporting News magazine in 1992 and 1998. Embry was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor to the class of 1999. He was also inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the charter class. He is the 2013 recipient of the Ohio Heritage Award, which recognizes an Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame inductee for their contributions to the State of Ohio off the court.

Embry and his wife, Terri Embry, live in Scottsdale, Arizona. They have three children: Debbie, Jull, and Wayne, Jr.

Wayne Richard Embry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 17, 2013 and August 18, 2017.

Accession Number

A2013.166

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

5/17/2013

08/18/2017

Last Name

Embry

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Miami University

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Wayne

Birth City, State, Country

Springfield

HM ID

EMB01

Favorite Season

Holiday Season

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Arizona

Birth Date

3/26/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Phoenix

Country

USA

Short Description

Basketball team manager and basketball player Wayne Embry (1937 - ) was the general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks, becoming the first African American general manager in the history of the National Basketball Association and the first African American general manager of any major U.S. team sport. He played for the Boston Celtics team that won the 1968 NBA Championship.

Employment

Cincinnati Royals

Boston Celtics

Milwaukee Bucks

Cleveland Cavaliers

Toronto Raptors

Curtis Symonds

Corporate executive Curtis Symonds was born on August 12, 1955 in Bermuda to Barbara and Norman Symonds. His family moved to Wilberforce, Ohio when he was two years old. Symonds attended the local Xenia High School, graduating in 1973, and he went on to receive his B.S. degree from Central State University in 1978.

Upon graduation from college, Symonds began working for Continental Cablevision in Ohio in 1979 as system manager. In 1983, he moved to Chicago, Illinois to work for ESPN as a local advertising sales consultant. He was later promoted to Director of Affiliate Marketing for the Midwest region. Symonds remained at ESPN for five years before joining Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1988 as Executive Vice President of Affiliate Sales and Affiliate Marketing. In 1992, Symonds became President and Chief Operating Officer of BET Action Pay-Per-View and BET International. Symonds served as Executive Vice President of BET on Jazz in 1996 and remained in that position until his retirement in 2001. During his tenure, he helped BET build its subscriber base from 18.8 million to 65 million homes.

In 2005, Sheila C. Johnson, President of the Washington Mystics, a professional women’s basketball team in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), appointed Symonds Chief Operating Officer of the Washington Mystics. He is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations. In 2006, Symonds opened a privately funded indoor basketball facility called Hoop Magic in Chantilly, Virginia.

Symonds has also served as the President of the T. Howard Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting women and people of color in entertainment and multimedia platforms. He is a recipient of the 1998 National Cable Television Association (NCTA) Vanguard Award for marketing excellence, the highest award for marketing in the cable industry.

Symonds resides in McLean, Virginia with his wife, Pat, and their three children.

Symonds was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 23, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.154

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/23/2007

Last Name

Symonds

Maker Category
Schools

Saint Joseph College

Xenia High School

Cook Elementary School

Central State University

Warner Middle School

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Curtis

Birth City, State, Country

Bermuda

HM ID

SYM01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Any

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

All Seasons

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Any

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bermuda

Favorite Quote

Doing The Right Thing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

8/12/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

Bermuda

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Broadcast executive and sports executive Curtis Symonds (1955 - ) worked for ESPN and then BET in marketing and sales, eventually becoming Executive Vice President of BET on Jazz. He helped BET build its subscriber base from 18.8 million to 65 million homes. He was also COO of the Washington Mystics WNBA team.

Employment

Paxton's Sporting Goods

Time Warner Cable

Continental Cablevision, Inc.

Satellite News Channel

Entertainment and Sports Programming Networks

Black Entertainment Television

Symonds Synergy Group

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551144">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Curtis Symonds's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551145">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551146">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds recalls visiting his maternal grandmother in Bermuda</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551147">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551148">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds describes his mother's personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551149">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds describes his father's background and personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551150">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds lists his adopted sisters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551151">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds describes his earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551152">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Curtis Symonds describes his neighborhood in Wilberforce, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551153">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Curtis Symonds describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551154">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Curtis Symonds remembers Lucinda Cook Elementary School in Wilberforce, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551155">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Curtis Symonds remembers his influences at Lucinda Cook Elementary School in Wilberforce, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551156">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds describes the African American community in Wilberforce, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551157">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds remembers his teachers at Lucinda Cook Elementary School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551158">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds describes his early interest in football and basketball</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551159">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds describes his experiences at Warner Junior High School in Xenia, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551160">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds describes his decision to attend Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551161">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds recalls his experiences at Saint Joseph's College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551162">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds talks about his experiences of racial discrimination</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551163">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Curtis Symonds talks about college athletic recruitment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551164">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Curtis Symonds describes his decision to transfer to Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551165">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds recalls his experiences at Central State University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551166">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds talks about the compensation of college athletes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551167">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds recalls his decision to pursue a career in the cable television industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551168">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds describes his role at Continental Cablevision, Inc.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551169">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds recalls Ted Turner's acquisition of the Satellite News Channel</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551170">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds describes his positions at ESPN and BET</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551171">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds describes the growth of Black Entertainment Television</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551172">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Curtis Symonds remembers Black Entertainment Television's initial public offering</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551173">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds describes the creation of BET2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551174">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds talks about BET's audience demographics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551175">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon his career at Black Entertainment Television</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551176">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds talks about Black Entertainment Television's expanded networks</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551177">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds talks about his wife and children</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551178">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds describes his role at the BET on Jazz television network</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551179">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds describes his activities during retirement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551180">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Curtis Symonds describes his presidency of the T. Howard Foundation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551181">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Curtis Symonds describes how he came to be COO of the Washington Mystics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551182">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon the perceptions of women's basketball</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551183">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon the racist remarks of Jimmy Snyder and Don Imus</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551184">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Curtis Symonds describes his plans for the Washington Mystics</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551185">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon his life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551186">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Curtis Symonds shares his advice to future generations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551187">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Curtis Symonds reflects upon his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/551188">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Curtis Symonds describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Curtis Symonds recalls Ted Turner's acquisition of the Satellite News Channel
Curtis Symonds describes how he came to be COO of the Washington Mystics
Transcript
And then, then it was satellite cablevision, I mean satellite television rather, I'm sorry. That's when Ted Turner came in about three months later and bought the network out. And that was a rude awakening, you know, because that was my first real glimpse of Corporate America because we begi- it was funny, the Satellite News Channel was owned by Westinghouse [Westinghouse Broadcasting Company] and ABC, so you would think these two big dogs would not let this happen, you know, and they kept telling us how they weren't going to let it happen, that everything was under control, but we were hearing rumbles in the street, and I remember coming into a cable operator's office in Iowa, just like you walk in the door right here. He had his back to me, his feet up, he was reading Wall Street [The Wall Street Journal], and he said, "Curtis [HistoryMaker Curtis Symonds], did you see Wall Street today?" I'm like, "No, why?" He said, "I think you better read this." So he turns around, he hands it to me. It just says in the caption, "Satellite News Channel just been bought by Ted Turner." So I called our office and everybody is like, in no mood to talk, but it's done. I'm like wow. So that was the beginning of that. And then--$$With that, talking about different systems and different parts of the country now, Ted Turner is in Atlanta [Georgia] (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) He's in Atlanta.$$--and there's no cable in Atlanta yet.$$Right.$$I think it comes in '82 [1982]. In 1982 was when cable--Atlanta first got cable.$$Yeah, yeah, it started coming, it was on the outsides of Atlanta, it wasn't so much in the city.$$It wasn't in metro Atlanta at all.$$It was on the outside of Atlanta at the time.$$Okay.$$You know, 'cause the big cities didn't start getting wired until the mid-'80s [1980s].$$Okay.$$You know, that's, that's when that happened, you know. But I was able to luckily spin off from Satellite News Channel and get on with ESPN.$$Okay.$$And that's really where my game became to really start rolling.$So what happens next?$$Well, I was, I always stayed in contact with Sheila Johnson [HistoryMaker Sheila C. Johnson], Bob Johnson's [Robert L. Johnson] ex-wife now, and we, me and my wife [Pat Symonds] always ate dinner, was eating, we had a like a little once a month type deal with her, with her and her, at that time, fiance, which is now her husband, Judge Newman [William T. Newman], and at one of the dinners she pulled me to the side and tells me about this idea of looking at a WNBA [Women's National Basketball Association] franchise, and I just told her that if you decide to do it, with all the basketball that I love, I'd like to be a part of it. So this went on for about six or seven months, maybe a short period, maybe four or five months, she was having her people do due diligence and all the other stuff and she called me one day, I happened to be in Ohio, and said, "Look, you might want to come in town, you'd better be here the next day. They're getting ready to make the announcement that I'm getting ready to take over the Washington Mystics," and so I flew back that night and sure enough, the next morning I went to the press conference and she announced that she was taking over the Washington Mystics. And I thought it was outstanding, you know that this market's a great market for women's basketball, and I thought it was, makes a lot of sense. So then we kept conversation and she kept telling me, "I'm going to have you do something with me, blah, blah, blah," and never in my life did I think she would call me back and say, you know, she did one day, and say I'd like you to run this, and I thought running meaning, I'm a marketing guy, so I figured that she, that I would be just running her marketing area. She said, "No, I'm talking about all, I want you to be the new COO of the Washington Mystics." And that was exciting because for me and my last hurrah, you know, I'm thinking the, right now, of the entrepreneurship. It was very exciting to have this opportunity and now, I always wanted to get in the NBA [National Basketball Association], but this just gives me the opportunity, great opportunity to take a step forward by getting into the WNBA. And it's been a great ride so far, you know. We're in our second season going into season, I actually came in the midseason. I've been with 'em, almost like two and one half year now. I came my first season, I was in midseason and we were on a playoff run that year and we ended missing out by one game. Last year, we had the best record in the history of the franchise. We were 18 and 16 and we made the playoffs and got bumped out in the first round. And this year we have aspirations for bigger and better. We think that we got a good nucleus. I definitely believe we have a great team and the goal in three years is to win a national world championship here, bring one back. So I think we're gonna, we're gonna be close on the ride, you know, and, you know, it's just fun, it's just fun. It's really fun. And it's, it's also a pleasure to work for a boss who's so committed to the operation. I mean she is very, she goes out, you know, she puts her neck on the line to help us get sponsorship. She's in the arena almost at every game, cheering and hugging her girls and supporting her girls in every way possible. She's very public about, you know, her feelings about women's sports and why it needs more attention, you know, and the need to get more men into the gym. So she's a strong advocate for women's sports and I think she's a great, great, you know, ambassador of the sport. And so to have an opportunity to work for someone with that drive, you know, is nonstop. It's contagious, you know, to be, to say the least, you know, so I, it really is, it's been enjoyable, it's been an enjoyable round, I'm looking forward to our season coming up and just seeing how good we do. And, you know, I also, built a gym, gymnasium complex in Chantilly, Virginia, called Hoop Magic, and that's my last piece of my dream that I'm trying to do in giving back because it's sixty-five thousand square feet, it's seven basketball courts in one building, and that's something that me and my wife wanted to do. And so to have an opportunity to run the Mystics and also to own my own gym and be able to give back, it's just a nice marriage.