Chet Kammerer: Meet the man in charge of the Miami Heat’s NBA draft scouting team

Chet Kammerer (right) with his son Chad Kammerer (left). (Courtesy of Miami Heat)

Chet Kammerer (right) with his son Chad Kammerer (left). (Courtesy of Miami Heat)

MIAMI — When Erik Spoelstra was asked in December about his involvement in the organization’s draft evaluation process, the Heat coach immediately shot down the question.

“Wrong question,” Spoelstra said. “Not a chance, pal. No way. I’ve got enough film watching this group and trying to find solutions. We have a very deep staff and I know they’re at work. But I’m not thinking along those lines at all.”

At the time the Heat were 10-22 and Spoelstra didn’t even want to hear the word, “draft.”

But that doesn’t mean that Spoelstra stays away from Miami’s player personnel department. In fact, a strong bond with the Heat’s vice president of player personnel lures him in that direction sometimes.

Chet Kammerer, who has been scouting for the Heat since 1996 and is now the organization’s Vice President of Player Personnel, has a close relationship with Spoelstra. Despite a pretty wide age gap between the 74-year-old Kammerer and the 46-year-old Spoelstra, they are close friends.

“I love Chet,” Spoelstra said earlier this month. “He’s a man of character, he’s a man of faith, he’s a man of great humility. He’s one of my favorite people on the planet.”

[Three things to watch this week: Trade deadline is set for Thursday — what will the Heat do?]

[Master rebuilder: Heat president Pat Riley faces another challenge]

Who is Kammerer? He’s not the person who comes to mind when discussing the Heat’s success over the past 20 years, but he’s one of the organization’s most important employees.

Shortly after Pat Riley joined the organization in 1995, then-Heat general manager Randy Pfund turned to one of his former assistant coaches with the Lakers to become a regional scout for Miami. While Pfund served as the Lakers’ head coach from 1992-94, Kammerer was an assistant on his coaching staff.

That connection led Pfund to hire Kammerer as the Heat’s West Coast scout in 1996. But Kammerer was better known as a coach at the time, as he spent 27 years as a college basketball head coach — 10 years at Grace (Ind.) College and then 17 years at Westmont College — before becoming an assistant coach at the NBA level.

“It was an opportunity,” Kammerer said of becoming the Heat’s West Coast scout. “I had already been a college coach for some time and that was an area that I thought I would enjoy, evaluating players. I felt like that was something that would be a big challenge and an opportunity. So that’s how I got started in it.”

But Kammerer never thought he would spend two decades as a scout, moving up the ranks from the Heat’s West Coast scout to Director of Scouting to Director of College Scouting to Director of Player Personnel to his current position of Vice President of Player Personnel. He’s in the middle of his 21st season with the organization.

And at 74 years old, Kammerer doesn’t have plans of slowing down any time soon.

He’s still on the road scouting and spends about 15 nights per month in hotel rooms as he travels around the country to evaluate talent. In January, his itinerary included a trip that took him from Michigan State to Michigan to Kentucky to Louisville.

Based in Redondo Beach, Calif., Kammerer also travels to spend a week in Miami each month to meet with his staff of Adam Simon, Eric Amsler, Keith Askins and Bob McAdoo, and other members of the Heat front office. Kammerer and his staff are responsible for scouting international, college, D-League and NBA talent.

“I try to be smarter than I was when I was younger,” said Kammerer, whose son Chad is the Heat’s Director of NBA Scouting/Advance Scout. “I’m trying to work just as hard, but a lot smarter. I have a staff now, so the staff helps in the process of trying to tone it down and trying to focus more on the players that we think are intriguing. That dictates a lot where I go to watch players.”

When asked when he believes he’ll retire, Kammerer chuckled.

“Some people have jobs that they can’t wait to retire from. I’m not in that realm,” he said. “I love what I do. I enjoy travel. I still seldom ever go to a game that I don’t get excited about. I grew up in Indiana so basketball is in my blood. I played high school ball, college basketball and it’s been a big part of my life. I still have a passion for it and I enjoy it.”

Part of that drive comes from his desire to help Spoelstra succeed.

“Frankly, part of the reason I’m still interested in our success is that I really pull for him to be successful,” Kammerer said of Spoelstra. “I think he’s a really good person. Off the basketball court, I think he’s just a person that you enjoy being with and he’s just got a great personality. He’s a quality person and I like that about him. Obviously, I do my work because I want to do a good job for the organization. But privately, I want to see him succeed.”

Kammerer and Spoelstra have each been a part of the Heat organization for more than two decades. Kammerer has worked his way up the organization’s ladder after starting as a regional scout, and Spoelstra has worked his way up after starting as a video coordinator.

Both share another thing in common, they don’t like to hear about their own success stories.

“Chet is one of the pillars of the organization and the fact that we’re talking about him right now would make him cringe,” Spoelstra said with a smile. “That’s what makes him so special. You could end the story right there.”

But Kammerer and Spoelstra’s story continues. When the Heat travel to Los Angeles each season, Spoelstra takes a day to go on a bike ride with Kammerer from his home in Redondo Beach all the way to Santa Monica.

“We make it an all-day affair,” Spoelstra said. “We finish with dinner at his house. When we bike, it may take us six to eight hours including lunch and hanging around.”

The 46-mile bike ride is full of conversations about life, not necessarily basketball. And definitely not about the draft.

“We might only talk Miami Heat basketball for 15 minutes,” Spoelstra said. “The rest of it is about life. He has a way of mentoring and guiding without telling.

“He’s a man of character, he’s a man of faith, he’s a man of great humility. I’ve learned more from that example of those things than about what type of player to pick for the Miami Heat. That’s probably the greatest compliment you can give him.”

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook]

Reader Comments 0

0 comments