Nadezhda Grishaeva Speaks Out About Her Job as a Basketball Agent

Nadezhda Grishaeva Speaks Out About Her Job as a Basketball Agent
Nadezhda Grishaeva

Nadezhda Grishaeva is a famous Russian basketball player. During her career, she played for the Russian national team and clubs such as Dynamo Moscow, Turkish Besiktas, and French Arras. As a national team member, Nadezhda participated in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She also founded Anvil Fitness Club Moscow and started working as a basketball agent.

Nadezhda, we know a great deal about your sports career, the fact that you launched the most fascinating and impressive fitness club in Moscow – Anvil Club, but you rarely talk about your work as a basketball agent. Can you please tell us how you got into this field?

For the duration of my professional sports career, I was represented by the famous American basketball agent Boris Lelchitski.

Boris took care of all organizational issues I had as a professional athlete: contracts, transfers, insurance, promotion, and medicine. After I retired, we decided to continue our mutually beneficial collaboration. Boris lives in the USA and is familiar with the WBNA basketball market. He works with promising young players worldwide, helping them gain admission to top American colleges in the US to improve their basketball skills and have a shot at the WBNA. For my part, I am focused on young basketball talents in Russia, Europe, and the countries of the Middle East.

What is it that you do exactly?

I provide professional athletes with a full range of services, doing it honestly, ethically, and by building long-term relationships. We focus on advancing the careers of our athletes on a global scale, both on and off the court. Our company provides clients with the necessary tools to support all their career ambitions. You could say we are a small company that believes in hard work and communication with an unconditional commitment to the success of our clients.

Is your business challenging?

Challenging and extremely time-consuming. Also, you need to be able to work with completely different people. For the most part, our clients are underage athletes, which means we have to work with their parents. Parents of a gifted and promising basketball player is a topic for a separate and lengthy conversation. They have so many anxieties, fears, high expectations, and their share of resentment towards coaches and the federation. With some parents, it is easy to build rapport, they trust their agent, realizing that in many ways for the talent to develop and achieve success he or she has to have a well-structured career, with a clear understanding of goals and objectives. Then, there are parents for whom a child is like a commodity. They literally tell us: pay us this much, and we will sign all the necessary papers. Personal gain is their priority. There are also parents who make you wonder why they even need a coach, a team, an agent, or a doctor. They know everything and understand the legal aspects much better than a coach with his professional knowledge and experience. I have just described a typical know-it-all parent. Of course, these are the extremes; in most cases, we find solutions.

For how many years have you and Boris Lelchitski been involved in agency work?

We have been collaborating for more than six years. We started working together in this particular field immediately after my professional career ended in 2016. In that time I also managed to find time to graduate from the Department of Economics of Moscow State University. My English skills are at the level of a native speaker, but I had to improve my Spanish. I specifically pay a lot of attention to education issues and improving my qualifications. But more often than not, you would hear an average person saying that sports agents are just businessmen eager to “make a quick buck” by foisting a player on the club to receive a commission. Of course, there are such people as pseudo-agents. You can find their likes in every field.

Can we really compare basketball life in Russia with basketball life in Europe and the USA?

There is no use trying to draw parallels with the USA because… it’s just a whole new universe. We could have compared the basketball life in Russia with that in Europe, and not too long ago, I would have said that the level was pretty much the same, but in the last two years, there has been a significant change In Russian basketball, and unfortunately, not for the better. This happened largely due to the exclusion of Russian clubs and athletes from participating in international competitions and difficulties with organizing trips abroad and obtaining visas. That is why I am now focusing my efforts on the basketball markets in Europe and the Middle East. These markets have their own cultural characteristics and national traditions, which makes my work extremely complicated. Although you would think that basketball rules are the same and the laws of the market economy are the same everywhere. I’m faced with the fact that in our age of freedom of speech, everyone says and writes whatever they want, and then it’s up to you to figure out what is true and what is false. For example, the yellow press writes a lot about me, but in 99% of cases, these are fabrications and conjectures of journalists, not confirmed by either facts or documents. What is the point, and why would anybody do this? However, this has nothing to do with the topic of our interview.

What can you say about the current level of training of young Russian basketball players?

The athlete training system always needs and must continuously be improved; however, there always were, are, and will be young talents in Russia. As I have already noted, it’s another matter that I am mostly focused on Europe and the Middle East.

How willing are clubs to turn their attention to basketball players from the Middle East?

The clubs look at them just like they would look at any other basketball player. The top traits that are valued in a modern basketball player are intelligence and willingness to play smart basketball. American college graduates are certainly more athletic, they literally are stronger physically. But what sets my players apart is their ability to see the court and make a sharp pass. You must learn the league’s spoken and unspoken rules to play in the USA, particularly in the WNBA. It’s better to move there when you are young. You’ll have more time to adapt, and you’ll be able to absorb everything faster.

Unlike Russia, with its fundamental basic sports education, a system of children’s and youth sports schools, schools of the Olympic reserve, and a system of training athletes and improving athletic performance built over decades, there is nothing like that in the Middle East. There is no comprehensive government system in place for the training of basketball sports reserves. It all comes down to the initiative of local private clubs and academies. But there are a lot of people who get involved and who are passionate about basketball. These are mostly expats.

Do you now feel like maybe you ended your professional career too soon?

This feeling of something being left unsaid in my basketball life was, is, and will always be with me, but I don’t want to return. I am now completely focused on my agent job and business projects. As a person who easily gets carried away and tries to bring everything to perfection, I am 100% immersed in my current activities, and as for my professional career, who knows, maybe one day I’ll write a book about it. I have already created a working title: “The Grishaev Dynasty.”