Malcolm Farmer is president and general manager of the Frisco-based Texas Legends, the minor league affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks. He’s been with the team since its inaugural season.
What is your earliest basketball-related memory?
Memories are what sports are all about! I remember the old hoop that was attached to our garage in Wisconsin – and I remember shooting my mini Chicago Bulls basketball for hours on end. There was only a little bit of concrete – and then it was a dirt/gravel alley – which made dribbling more than a challenge. The ball could hit a rock and take off at any number of angles – always had to be ready! I can still remember the tree whose limbs hung over the court – forcing shots from one side of the “court” to have a very flat trajectory so as not to be “blocked” by the tree. Lots of one-on-one battles on that gravel driveway against my older brother!
You've been with the Texas Legends since 2009. How have you seen the team's identity change over time?
More than anything I think that our identity has evolved over the years. Since day one our mission has been to have a product that is family friendly, one that all members of the family unit can enjoy regardless of their passion for basketball, and to be intimately involved in the community. Over time, those goals have become more and more a reality. I can speak from experience with my own family – not all of whom really care about or enjoy basketball – but all of whom can come to a Legends game and leave with a smile on their face. From my 3-year-old daughter, to our 15-year-old high school boy, and our 13-year-old middle school girl – everyone enjoys the game for their own unique reason. With respect to the community, seeing our impact grow each year and hearing about that impact over the years has been hugely rewarding. It is really cool to hear from a fan/business/partner tell me a story of a Legends experience from eight, nine, or even 10 years ago and how they are still experiencing the positive effects of that interaction.
The Texas Legends are approaching the home opener for the 2021-22 season—what are y'all focusing on as we enter this post-pandemic season?
Our focus has never wavered – pandemic or not. Our focus has remained, and will continue to remain, about putting smiles on our fans faces and making a positive impact in the North Dallas community. I believe it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have existed – this is to have succeeded.” We will continue to do exactly that every day.
Tell us about Legends Academy and its evolution.
I think that sports can have a tremendous impact on people – especially our kids. I know that it had a huge impact on my development. Winning and losing both teach us lessons that we need to apply throughout our lives. Adversity, hard work, teamwork, working with others – these are all vital lessons. To that end, we want to provide a basketball experience to as many kids as possible. A positive basketball experience. This extends from our clinics, to our camps, to our Academy. As we have told our camp and clinic coaches for years – we are not going to create the next Dirk Nowitzki during this week of camp. More importantly, we can make sure that these kids have a positive basketball experience so that they will want to come back and play basketball again next week. And the week after. And the year after. Through that positive experience, and the repeated work that will follow – great players, and more importantly, great people will be developed.
How did the pandemic impact your understanding of your role as president and GM? What challenges did you face?
I think the biggest challenge that we all have faced is staying positive in the face of adversity. No matter how much planning we do, we didn’t know for certain what challenges lay ahead each month. More specifically, we had to get creative in ways that we could impact and help our community. Times of adversity are not a time to hide – they are a time to jump in with both feet and get your hands dirty. We embraced the challenge of leading in our community from the very start of the pandemic and that required creativity and resilience.
What has a normal day looked like for you lately?
It’s all about getting ready for this coming season right now! Our home opener is fast approaching – only a couple of months away – and the amount of work that goes into putting on our show can be daunting if we don’t get a little better each day!
In your opinion, did the pandemic impact minor league sports differently than it did major league sports? If so, how?
No question. The Texas Legends are all about the fan and our community. It’s about giving the fans a memory, an experience, that they will remember forever. Having fans at games is implicit in that. While major league sports can be a “TV event” – and collect millions of dollars in TV revenue – the Legends are more intimate. My favorite thing about our games is when I see a true organic, authentic smile on kids and adults. So often in our society now we are programmed to smile at certain times – but you know when you see a smile that surprises even the person who is smiling. I see thousands of those true smiles on game nights. That’s what it is all about.
What can fans expect of this upcoming season?
Do you have a favorite movie?
Hoosiers. Small time basketball makes it big. Sound familiar?
Do you have a go-to stress snack?
More like a go-to snack at all times – stress or not. Ice cream.
What do you do to get motivated?
Good question! The reality is that I work with great people and have a job where I “get to” (as opposed to “have to”) go do things. I can’t ask for much more. The biggest thing that motivates me – and our team – is getting better each day and each season.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise most people.
The night before every game I worry that no one will show up. Obviously, that hasn’t been an issue – but it keeps me hungry!