Valley native Harper works with Milwaukee Bucks
a video coordinator
By Brian Dzenis
Eric Harper has found a new may to keep things fresh with his chosen profession. He doubled his workload.
Harper, a McDonald graduate, watches basketball for a living as an assistant video coordinator for the Milwaukee Bucks. He made the jump from doing video work in the college game to the pros last September. All the tape he could watch in a college basketball season is barely half an NBA season.
“I’m kind of blessed that I really, really like basketball, and I never get tired of it,” Harper said. “Every game is so different, and it’s just so cool. I’m watching games every day.”
Harper’s job is to help curate and edit film of the Bucks’ opponents for the team’s scouting reports. He has to stay roughly two weeks ahead of the team as it progresses through its schedule. For example, for last Friday’s contest against the Golden State Warriors, Harper had video featuring the Warriors’ last five games ready well before Milwaukee was to take the court.
The job itself isn’t that different from his previous work as the video coordinator for the Akron men’s basketball team — save the volume of work.
“In college, you can really stew over a game and you can wait four or five days [between games],” Harper said. “Here, you might talk about a game the next morning, but you’re always moving on, which I like better than stewing over a game.”
The other change for Harper is more intangible, the idea of leaving his comfort zone.
While the former Blue Devils basketball player didn’t pursue opportunities on the court at Akron, he earned a place with the Zips program. As a student manager, he caught the eye of then head-coach Keith Dambrot, becoming the Zips’ video coordinator not long after graduating from Akron in 2011. He held that role and assumed more responsibilities in the coming years..
When Dambrot left Akron to take the Duquesne job last April, he took Harper with him. But before the Dukes made it to opening tip, Harper left for Milwaukee.
Harper met up with a Bucks official during the NBA’s annual Summer League in Las Vegas after previously connecting on LinkedIn. It didn’t lead to work at the time until that same official called in September. The time it took from the interview to the offer was about 48 hours, Harper said.
“It was a tough thing to wrap my mind around. At the end of the day, the opportunity was something I couldn’t pass up,” Harper said. “[Dambrot] knew what was going down and he understood.
“The hardest part about it was just leaving my comfort zone. Some of my best friends are part of Dambrot’s staff and I was still around the area. That was the most difficult about it.”
Harper said he is open-minded about his future — it just needs to involve basketball. The options for promotion from working with video can branch into either coaching or front-office work in the NBA. Some examples of notable people in the league who have had Harper’s current title include current head coaches Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat) and Mike Budenholzer (Atlanta Hawks), as well as former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, now a top assistant with the Golden State Warriors.
Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti also previously was a video coordinator.
Harper also has launched “Through the Lens of Basketball,” a podcast series providing advice for those seeking a career in the sports industry.
“It’s definitely been an adventure and it’s nice to get out of my comfort zone going from northeast Ohio to the NBA,” Harper said.