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Transitions, Advancement & Girl Power

Featured Articles - Issue 7

5 Things You Didn't Know - Jay Bilas

Many know Jay Bilas as one of ESPN’s college basketball analyst, and some may remember him from his days playing basketball at Duke University, but one thing you may not know about Jay is that is he of counsel will Moore & Van Allen, one of the largest regional law firms in the Southeast. Here are five other things you may not know about Jay and his amazing career:

  1. Jay’s parents always expected him to go to law school. ”From the time I was a kid, both of my parents, but especially my father, started hammering into my head that I needed to go to law school. He felt that a college degree wasn’t going to be enough, even though neither one of my parents had the opportunity to go to college. My dad felt like a law degree was the best and most versatile degree to have because you didn’t have to be a lawyer. He felt like the beauty of a law degree was that it would teach you a different way of thinking and that you didn’t have to practice law. A lot of successful people in other avenues had law degrees.”

  2. He went to law school after his third year of playing pro ball. “After my third year playing professionally, I took the LSAT. I actually took the LSAT at an air force base in Spain. I had to leave my team midweek to go take the exam and I studied for it while I was playing overseas. I got admitted to Duke Law School, and then at the same time, I got offered a coaching position at Duke by Coach K, my old coach. So, I thought, ‘What could be better? I’ll coach at the same time I’m in law school.’ So that’s what I did.”

  3. Jay was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks but instead played in Italy for three years professionally. “I got drafted by the Dallas Mavericks and I went to rookie camp. Then right about the time veterans’ camp was starting, I got an offer in Italy. It was substantially more money than I would have gotten if I’d made the Mavericks. So, I debated whether to take the risk and go to veterans’ camp and maybe get cut or go to Italy and play pro basketball. I knew I could play in the NBA, but I wasn’t going to be a great player—but I was a really good European pro. It was nice for me to go from being a star high-school player, then be a role player in college on a great team, and then be a star player again. Italy was the best league in the world outside of the United States. It was an adventure in a way, and it was the right level of professional basketball for me at the time.

    It was fun.”

  4. His legal background has helped immensely in his ESPN career. “It’s been amazing how much crossover there is now into legal issues in my job at ESPN. I do a fairly decent job of assessing things from a legal perspective, but I’ve always got those resources at Moore & Van Allen to be able to call my colleagues and say, ‘Hey, here’s an issue that I’ve being dealing with.’ I covered the Rae Carruth trial in Charlotte for ESPN and all the NCAA regulatory issues on infractions issues—things like that. There have been so many legal issues that have come up over the years, and to be able to pick up the phone and call one of my colleagues to run it by him has been invaluable.”

  5. Jay is a member of the Screen Actors Guild “When I was a senior in high school, one of my teachers directed a play and he said, ‘I want you to be the lead in the play.’ I don’t know if I was good enough to get the part, but he was offering it to me, so I did it. It was very successful and I wound up winning the Bank of America best actor award. Then when I was playing overseas, I got a phone call from somebody at the Lakers organization. I was back home for the summer, and the guy told me about a Minolta camera commercial shooting in LA. They were looking for six to eight basketball players for the commercial. I went to the audition, and there were 50 guys there who looked just like me. But I went through the whole process, and ultimately, I wound up getting the part in this Minolta camera commercial that played for about two or three years. After the Minolta commercial, I wound up getting an agent at the suggestion of one of the cameramen (and joined the union). He sent me on an audition for a part as an alien cop in a Dolph Lundgren movie, “I Come in Peace”. I went and read for it and then got two more callbacks and got the part. The movie came out while I was in law school.”

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