Melissa Rosenthal Brenner's late mother Linda Rosenthal started her love affair with sports.
"I can't tell you how many [Philadelphia] Eagles and 76ers and Flyers and Phillies games we watched together," said Ms. Brenner, the 38-year-old senior VP-marketing for the NBA. "She was a teacher. And she taught my sister and I to work hard at school and believe we could do anything we wanted to do."
The inspiration from her mother (who passed away two years ago) has helped Ms. Brenner turn the NBA into a global leader in social media. Under her direction, the league has built one of the largest social media communities in the world. She's writing the book on how sports leagues can maximize Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
"A lot of our fans live way outside our 30 teams. They're not able to experience the in-arena action and excitement. Social is a way they can connect, and engage, with the game," said Ms. Brenner, who lives in Manhattan with husband Joe and kids Sadie and Jack, and also manages the league's relationships with the TV partners ESPN/ABC and Turner Sports.
The NBA's Twitter handle (@nba) has over 7.1 million followers -- more than any U.S. sports league including the mighty NFL (4.7 million). The league has more than 400 million "likes" and followers globally across all social-media platforms, Ms. Brenner estimated, including all team, league and player pages across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram plus Chinese microblogging sites Tencent and Sina. If they were a nation, these NBA followers would make up the world's third-most populous behind China and India. Since signing one of the earliest sports deals with YouTube in 2005, the NBA's You Tube channel has exceeded 1 billion views.
"Camp counselor. It was fantastic. I had a group of 7-year-olds."
Her kids want a dog, but in the meantime...
"We have three fish that we've gotten over the years from different carnivals. They haven't died. I don't know what we're doing, but we appear to be really capable fish owners."
Best advice ever received:
"It came from an old boss. 'He said in college or school, if you get a 90 you're excited because you got an A or A-minus. But in the professional world, 90% doesn't cut it. It's that extra 10% that separates the good organizations from the great ones.'"