A Bergen County, NJ kid hooked on hoops from day one at the playground, Milton Lee atypically used his coveted trading jobs at ING and SAC Capital as a springboard to the NBA, essentially going from master of the universe to clipboard-carrying nobody (he began as an intern for the Olympic team). The move has paid off. When they tell you to follow your passion, listen—or simply look at the focused, contented face of Milton Lee as he watches a meaningless NBA Development League game in an empty arena on a cold night in Springfield, Mass. It’s not meaningless to him. A lot of guys can pick the next global drop in consumer confidence for a multibillion dollar hedge fund, but only a couple (and Lee is one of them) can see that Gerald Green is finally ready to rock some big league minutes, after hard years in the hinterlands. Lee plucked Green from the LA D-Fenders in 2012 and watched him average 13 points a game for the NJ Nets in The Show.
The Nets moved across a couple of rivers over the summer and Lee went too. He’s now the Assistant GM in Brooklyn, as well as the top man for the Nets’ Minor League Operations—an important gig as the NBA tries to cultivate a system like baseball’s to test, tame and nurture talent. As a sideline, he quietly chairs roundball efforts at The New York Athletic Club too, which knows success the Nets can only dream of: seven times national champs since 2003. Oh, and as you follow your passion, it helps to get a good education. The University of Pennsylvania, where Lee went, will do. And if they only let you play JV at the Palestra, don’t worry, it’s a big world filled with opportunity. Look around, take your shot. If you’re lucky a guy like Milton Lee will be there to see it. Big things could happen.