WASHINGTON – The black SUV pulled up at the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, and Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas got out and posed for a picture. Across the street at the Capitol, members of the House of Representatives were voting to formalize impeachment proceedings of President Donald Trump.
As Rosas entered and walked the halls of the building, multiple people mentioned to him something along the lines of, “You’re here on an interesting day.”
Why was Rosas there? To speak to the 38-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus about a cause he holds dear — Latino and minority inclusion in sports.
“Me having this responsibility is not something I take lightly,” Rosas told the Star Tribune. “For me, it’s using my time and my efforts to help motivate others to know this is an opportunity for them, whether that’s young Latinos or Latinas or people from different backgrounds. Those things are important to me, and [Thursday] I was just messaging that.”
Rosas was invited to Capitol Hill by a friend of his, political consultant Larry Gonzalez, who works closely with lawmakers on the all-Democrat caucus. The two met through a Google Next Generation leadership group that focuses on minorities. When Gonzalez read that Rosas was the first Latino general manager in NBA history, he wanted to make sure the members of the caucus heard his story and what he’s trying to do to advance their community.
“They want to hear and see that there is opportunity,” Gonzalez said. “There are, unfortunately, some situations where some folks make it and don’t necessarily put the ladder back down for others to get up. I think that’s a big part of his story.”
Rosas said he spoke during the meeting, which was closed to media, for about 10-15 minutes while lawmakers and staff were running in and out of the room.
He emphasized his own personal story of how he was an immigrant from Colombia who made his way through the basketball ranks living in Houston and eventually working for the Rockets before joining the Wolves.
“It was an opportunity to show that especially in this day and age the positive aspects of [being an immigrant], how we contribute to this country,” Rosas said.
“And for me specifically to this great league and game that’s taken me all over the world, just how important that is to me. Not only having the role I have but being able to give back and motivate others as a result.”
The caucus also wanted to know what the NBA is doing to promote diversity hiring and how the league can improve it. Rosas could point to his work with the league and on the Wolves. He has assembled a diverse front office with the Wolves that boasts high-ranking officials from all different backgrounds.
“We’re constantly looking for opportunities to have meetings, talk to people, be involved, whether it’s in our community in Minnesota, or anywhere,” Rosas said. “One thing that I’m a big believer in is you’re always hiring. By that I mean, you’re always looking for great people, with great perspectives and great backgrounds. You don’t wait until there’s an opening to say let’s go find somebody.”
To do that, Rosas said, it’s up to those in power to help motivate the youth to realize these opportunities are within reach, something he and the caucus both believe.
“The diversity of experiences are what makes us special and allow us to tackle our objectives to build a championship organization in a different way,” Rosas said.