002-Devin Dismang

Head of Media & Content, JaVale McGee 
& Freelance Content Creator.


Feature No. 2 | January 1st, 2020
Photography: @dismayne


Tell us about yourself. What's your title and what’s your story with basketball.

For those who don't know me or what I do - my name is Devin Dismang (Head of Media & Content, JaVale McGee & Freelance Content Creator) and I am a professional video producer, content creator and visual storyteller. I am born and raised from Chicago, Illinois but have lived all over the country for work. I've done stints with the Chicago Bears (NFL), Chicago Sky (WNBA), Atlanta Falcons (NFL), Chicago Fire (MLS), Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA) & Golden State Warriors (NBA). While with these teams, I focused on game presentation & entertainment mainly before transitioning to video production and storytelling during my time with Golden State. While with all of these organizations, I was able to experience the NBA Playoffs, NBA Finals, NFL Championship games, Super Bowls, NBA Summer League, championships and even became a 3-time Emmy Award Winner, 9-time Emmy Award Nominee & a 3-time Telly Award Winner. Next to the professional - Devin, the person, is just a regular dude. I love to travel, meeting new people and cultures, trying new stuff and seeing the world. Basketball and sports in general gave me the opportunity to see more life outside of my neighborhood and that's a blessing I am extremely grateful for.

Basketball has always been a part of me. It was the first sport I ever played and growing up in Chicago in the '90s, basketball was the sport of gods and gladiators. I saw lives change because of the game. It was pure escapism. Seeing guys like Tim Hardaway and Dwyane Wade (who are my two favorite players of all time) make it out of Chicago, make a name for themselves but always remember where they are from - that's the blueprint I followed. I played the game most of my life before committing to football for a college scholarship but it's always had my love. Now as an adult - I think of basketball as an art form. It's timeless and it moves mountains. It inspires and speaks to each person in a different way. There isn't many things in the world that can do that and for a sport to have that effect, it's magical. To me - it's THE beautiful game. 

Do you have a specific hoop story as a kid that made you fall in love with basketball.

Honestly, I don't remember how I fell in love with the game. My earliest memories are of me playing on the old Fisher Price hoops as a kid. Then being around the buzz of the Chicago Bulls championship eras while growing up in Chicago. Playing on the blacktop courts was my favorite. There's nothing like playing basketball outside in Chicago. Guys out here really challenge you and you got to be made of tough skin to last. I swear I learned a ton of life lessons on that court back in the day. Ironically though, my favorite team growing up (and still is) was the Miami Heat. I mentioned Wade and Hardaway before but Alonzo Mourning was my third favorite. They just had a swagger that I really vibed and then again, seeing guys from Chicago excelling in other places - that's what I wanted to be like it.

 

You started off as a marketing coordinator for the Oklahoma City Thunder. You spent some time working for the Golden State Warriors and now you find yourself freelancing for the Lakers. What’s it been like to work with those organizations? How did it help you grow as a professional? Any player moments that stick out specifically?

I actually started working in sports at the age of 16 when the Chicago Bears hired me while in high school, but yeah - the OKC Thunder was my first NBA-related job. I even worked for the Chicago Sky part-time before working in the NBA, so I've been all over the place. Working with the NBA teams I've had experience with, it's all been memorable. Each organization has its' own unique story but also unique way of doing things. I wouldn't trade those experiences and opportunities for anything as they have made me the professional I am today.

As for player moments - there's a ton of moments, both cool and personal, in my mind that stick out but I'll give you a couple good ones:

  • Celebrating with the Warriors in a Morton's Steakhouse following the 2018 NBA Championship win until 7AM the next day.

  • Getting sprayed with champagne in the locker room by James Michael McAdoo & Kevin Durant after the 2017 Championship win in Oakland.

  • Getting sprayed with champagne in CLE by Nick Young after the 2018 Championship win as he was running up and down the hallway.

  • Creating my documentary on Quinn Cook, that ended up winning an Emmy Award and a Telly Award.

  • Klay Thompson one time borrowed my charger on the team bus and then lost it.

  • Zaza Pachulia inviting a group of us to dinner in D.C. to try food from his home country, Republic of Georgia.

  • Draymond Green putting me on his Snapchat wearing my J.R Smith tweet shirt I wore during the 2017 parade, where he tweeted "Cavs in 7" after losing in CLE (I got sent to HR for it but totally worth it).

  • Having an in-depth convo with Steph Curry about how fantastic Chick-Fil-A is while we were in Charlotte and convincing a co-worker to go try it for the first time. Believe me, this was a very passionate conversation.

  • Losing in Portland one time in the regular season and Blue Star Donuts gifted me and Damian Jones like 6 dozen donuts to hand out to the team to "thank us for letting them win". It was all in good fun and the donuts are fire.

There's a bunch of other ones too but I'm not ready to share those with the world... yet. In all, my favorite thing was being able to develop real and authentic relationships with these players and coaches for all the teams I worked for. You have to remember that every single day - people are asking for these guys for things: interviews, autographs, money, time, etc. So any time I spent time with them, I made sure it was a simple experience as if we were kicking it & hanging out. And most of the time, it was like that. So I'm thankful they trusted me enough for times like that.

 

Talk about JaVale McGee, how did you get so close with him and what’s it like working with him?

JaVale and I met during his first year with the Warriors, back in 2016. It honestly started organically after doing a few interviews with him and creating some content with him. The first year mainly consisted of sending him game highlights and photos captured at games. That relationship built through that summer after the 2017 championship while working with JaVale's business partner - Kez Reed, an entrepreneur & investor from Long Beach - where we collaborated on content features for their foundation called JugLife, which focuses on providing clean water to areas of the world who do not have access to it as well as educating kids & people the importance of water for general health. They hosted a celebrity charity softball game at the Coliseum and my team & I captured a really dope video and that confidence in my work spiraled into other opportunities. During the 17-18 season, we created some top notch content that ended up being the highest engaged on the Warriors social & digital channels - including this KIA Commercial that ended up getting picked up as a part of KIA's national NBA Campaign, Realtor.com Game of HOUSE and JaVale & Nick Young taking over a United terminal at SFO.

After JaVale went to LA and with my departure from the Warriors in August 2019, the three of us had a convo on how we could really push the envelope content-wise for a player and well, the rest is history. Now we are focusing on telling JaVale's story while making his content incredible.

I've truly enjoyed my experience working with JaVale and his crew as it's the first time I've been challenged creatively. We all have the same goal in mind but having the collaboration on the narratives we are trying to push, the visuals we want to bring to the table and how to tell the day-to-day story of JaVale's life - it's truly been a team effort and it's been fun. Plus JaVale is very tapped in with the world of content creation so his input has been critical to making things work.

What’s your favorite part of your job? What/who inspires you?

I mentioned it before but my favorite part of what I do is creating these authentic and real relationships with people. Not just the players but coaches, fans, employees, family members, etc. Some of my closest friends are people I've met along this journey because having that realness is something I want to make sure is top of mind with anything I do. There's too much corporate minded people who don't think of people as humans but only as assets. I will never do that because being a person of color, I understand the feeling of being used for someone else's personal gains while they do not look out for me. I refuse to do that to any person, let alone a client.

My sources of inspiration come from all over the place. I get inspired a lot by travel - meeting new people and learning their stories & culture. This world is so big and what's important to one person may not even be a thought to another so learning people's stories is extremely inspiring. Along with that, I get inspired by the different storytellers around the world who tell the stories that the world needs to hear. People like Ava DuVerney, Kanye West, Anthony Bourdain, LeBron James & Maverick Carter who are telling stories that need to be told while pushing the way storytelling should be told - those are folks I inspire to be like.

I also get inspired by other creatives and people who push the envelope. There's people in the creative space, like my best friend Joseph Sherman who literally purchased a camera from Craigslist one day to try something and now turned that love for photography into a job as the Manager of Social Media for the Los Angeles Lakers, that are doing some incredible things to tell the story of basketball. But to shoutout a few others who inspire me to be better - Chris Ramirez, Andre Robinson, Chris Parker, Meredith Minkow, Matt Maniego & Matt Straus - just to name a few. There's a bunch out there I'm surely forgetting but folks like this help me push myself creatively.

Also - there are folks like Will Smith - who's creating individual content for himself while doing movies, press tours, new music and running several businesses - inspire me just as a much as a guy like McKinley Nelson - who created Project Swish Chicago as a college student to help get people off the streets of Chicago during high violence times to play basketball and make the city just a bit better. One of the biggest things about inspiration is seeing people like yourself doing the things you want to do and seeing people of color thriving and excelling - that's the best inspiration of all.