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NBA family tree from Baltimore's Connelly brothers is growing

Four brothers from Roland Park work for franchises, two as executives

June 22, 2013|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

Tim Connelly did his part, too, by becoming the first of the brothers to draw a paycheck from an NBA team. While in college at Fordham in New York, Tim Connelly wrote several NBA teams looking to see whether he could do some scouting. Chuck Douglas, then director of college scouting for the Wizards, was the only one to write back.

Instead of trying to resurrect his playing career after transferring to Division III Catholic University in Washington for his junior year, Connelly worked for the Wizards when he wasn't bussing tables at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore.

"I was doing anything and everything. I was fortunate that it was a real small [scouting department] staffed by Wes Unseld and Chuck Douglas," Tim Connelly recalled. "I went to any game I could drive to. If I wasn't working, I was at a Loyola game or a Howard game or a La Salle game. Any game within two hours. I was another set of eyes."

Tim Connelly joked that he got paid under the table, as Unseld would occasionally use money from the team's "fine jar" to give him gas money. It took him three years before he was promoted to a full-time job that would include college scouting, on-court player development and even salary cap management.

"I was able to wear a lot of different hats, and I was able to work for three neat guys in Wes Unseld, Michael Jordan and Ernie Grunfeld," Tim Connelly said earlier this month before being hired by the Nuggets. "I saw three different ways of doing things."

After graduating from Mount St. Mary's and getting his master's as a graduate assistant at Baylor, Pat Connelly thought about following his father into the investment banking business. Mike Connelly worked for more than 30 years at Alex. Brown.

Instead, Pat Connelly followed Tim to the Wizards.

"The Wizards advance scout got a full-time job and it opened up a part-time spot," said Pat Connelly, who worked in scouting there with current Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "It was enough to pay the bills. Got my feet wet and the next year I was brought on full time. I had a title that was about four pages long — advance scout, college scout, basketball operations."

Dan Connelly admits that his brothers' connections to Hamilton, who coached the Wizards briefly, got him to Florida State and later helped him land as a graduate assistant at Jacksonville and Memphis. But it was his knowledge of the new technology used by NBA teams to scout opponents that got him his current gig with the Jazz.

"They flew me in and told me, 'We're going to have an expert teach our scouts the new system," Dan Connelly said. "I asked, 'Who's the expert?' They said it was me."

The second-youngest of the brothers said some have questioned his basketball pedigree along the way.

"When I'm asked, 'How do people get these jobs?' or when a player I'm working with says, 'Oh, you don't know what you're talking about, you didn't play,' I say, 'Yeah, I didn't play, but I was sitting on the sideline watching Carmelo Anthony go from a 6-foot nobody to one of the best players in the country,'" Dan Connelly said. "All the jobs I've had, I'm seeing guys get better, seeing what they're doing and not doing."

Family loved sports

Though Mike Connelly took his five sons — and two daughters — to Homewood Field for Johns Hopkins lacrosse games, to the Civic Center to see the Baltimore Skipjacks, to Camden Yards for plenty of Orioles games and to M&T Bank Stadium to root for the Ravens, basketball was the sport that seemed to cultivate the most sibling rivalry.

"Just growing up, we played a lot of two-on-two. It would be Pat and my younger brother Kevin against Tim and myself," Dan Connelly recalled. "Basketball was the easiest sport to play two-on-two, even inside my room."

Mary Ann Connelly said her husband instilled a strong work ethic into his five sons and two daughters, both of whom work for nonprofit organizations in Baltimore.

"He worked really hard, but he didn't carry on about it — he just did it," said Mary Ann Connelly, who owns an art gallery in Onancock, Va.

Mike Connelly said the highlight of his basketball career came when he made a CYO all-star team in the mid-1960s and played before a Baltimore Bullets and Cincinnati Royals game at the Civic Center, where his first jump shot was blocked.

"I think it's still floating over Howard Street," he joked.

He said he and his wife were always supportive of their sons' dreams, however unrealistic they might have seemed at times.

"They did it on their own, with their own drive and as much as Mary Ann and I would encourage them and support them," said the elder Connelly, who is now retired. "It was never a case of, 'Let me make a call and introduce you to someone who can be helpful to your career.'"

Pat Connelly said going to Towson Catholic to watch games from the earliest age "stoked the passion." But he jokes that all of the brothers gravitated toward basketball because "none of us were that great. It wasn't that big of a shadow."

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