People and Pop Culture

M.L. Carr: Kraft helped me launch post-basketball career

By Ben Fischer

Boston sports fans of a certain age best know M.L. CARR as a fiery role player for two Celtics NBA championship teams in '81 and '84. But after he retired in '85, ROBERT KRAFT -- then still a relatively anonymous businessman -- gave him a rare opportunity. Kraft, then board chair at New England Television Corp., which owned Channel 7, a local CBS affiliate, offered Carr a spot on the board. It was not until shortly thereafter Carr later found out that Kraft’s decision was not only because he saw potential in Carr, but also recognized the need of adding another Black voice to corporate Boston at a time when the racial strife of the '60s and '70s still resonated. Around that time, Carr also joined the board of his shoe sponsor, New Balance, at founder JIM DAVIS’ request. Those positions gave Carr a huge first step toward a post-playing career business life, educating him on how sophisticated boards operate and an opportunity to connect with and impress every important business leader in Boston -- instant legitimacy, he says. “The only board I participated in before that, other than charitable boards, was the backboards on the basketball court,” Carr said. “And he helped me transition from the hardwood into business world. What a great thing that was, to go from sports as a player into the board room of a media company.”

STILL MAKING CONNECTIONS: Kraft the connector struck again, when a few years later he invited Carr to use his season tickets at Foxboro Stadium. The two were joined by DICK SMITH, the Boston business and philanthropy leader. Another relationship began that day. “We sat outside, and we ate our popcorn and peanuts,” Carr remembers. “We had a wonderful time. Dick Smith was an icon in this city, even before Bobby was.” Carr later became Celtics coach and its Dir of Basketball Operations, joining RED AUERBACH as the only people to do both at the same time. Today, Carr is a partner at New Technology Ventures, a venture capital firm, and serves on multiple boards, including dSide Technologies and BioDirection.


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