He has two Olympic medals (silver in 1984, gold in 1992) in the triple jump and was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2004. But these days, Mike Conley isn't typically recognized for his track and field exploits -- he's known best as the father of Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley Jr.
And that suits him just fine.
"I'm proud of my son and I'm proud of his accomplishments," Mike Sr. said. "It actually feels better to be called Mike Conley's dad to me than just Mike Conley the track athlete."
He tunes into every Grizzlies game "If I miss one I'll tape it and watch it when I get home," Conley said. But he's not just watching with the prideful gaze of a father: He's also keeping tabs on his client.
Conley became an NBA agent last year, representing his son and his son's former Ohio State teammates Greg Oden (now with the Portland Trail Blazers) and Daequan Cook (Miami Heat). He served as his own agent when competing, so his new career wasn't exactly a leap. That he had preexisting relationships with his first three clients, whom he had coached on the Spiece Indy Heat (an AAU team based in Indianapolis) eased the transition.
"That made it easy for me because I definitely had their best interests at heart regardless of what they decided to do," Conley said.
No matter how pure his approach, the world of a sports agent has a dark side, a lesson Conley has since learned with his latest client, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden.
In late December, a Little Rock, Ark., radio station accused Conley of purchasing an Escalade for McFadden, putting the eligibility of the junior, who had yet to declare for April's NFL draft, into question. The report was later retracted and Conley was issued an on-air apology.
"It was very, very unfortunate," Conley said. "It was done with malice and it was done with the sole purpose of spreading [a rumor]. It's just sad that this profession is geared that way, number one; and cutthroat that way, number two. But that's the life I've decided to embark on and my goal is do this job with integrity and add a fresh face to it so that when I look a parent in the eye, I can truly tell them that I have their kid's best interest at heart."
Conley hasn't resigned himself to just representing athletes, he's also works as the executive director of World Sport Chicago. The organization has brought the likes of the World Boxing Championships to the Windy City, but its ultimate goal is to land the 2016 Olympics. "It's a great city, it has a lot to offer and it really has a lot to offer the Olympic movement and the Games itself," Conley said. "Being a Chicagoan, I'll just be as happy has a peacock if we actually receive a bid."