“I am really grateful for Adelphi. It molded and influenced me, and helped me get where I wanted to be.”

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

Director, Team Operations, New York Knicks

On his time at Adelphi: “I am really grateful for Adelphi. It molded and influenced me, and helped me get where I wanted to be.”

His best day at work: “My first day. I’ll always look back on that with a smile.”

Helping His Team, One Day at a Time

Ever since his first day on the job, Chris Bernard ’99 has reminded himself not to take anything for granted. “I cherish what I do here,” Mr. Bernard says of his work with the New York Knicks. And it shows. As he walks the hallways of the team’s practice facility – hallways he has helped to adorn with inspiration from both the past and the present – he is clearly operating with confidence and pride.

He recalls with a smile, arriving for his first day as a team assistant, fresh off the bench as an assistant coach at Adelphi. The head coach quickly told him to trade his button-down for a t-shirt and sneakers and to step on the court to assist in drills. From that day forward, in a variety of roles, Mr. Bernard has never abandoned a hands-on approach to helping the team he grew up cheering for.

“I am a fan,” he acknowledges. “Growing up, I was always passionate about basketball.” And yet, the standout college player also admits that despite multiple international offers, he never saw a career in the game after graduation. His role with the team has become clearer as he has learned more about himself.

“Over the years, I’ve figured out my purpose,” he says. “I’m here to help people, to advance them, to support big goals.” In his current role as Director of Team Operations, Mr. Bernard lives that mission daily. In the area of player development, he is available to assist the team in a myriad of ways. His office, located adjacent to the players’ lounge, their home away from home, underscores that commitment.

Mr. Bernard also serves as the Knicks’s point of contact for the training facility, which also caters to the Rangers, and the New York Liberty. The sprawling complex includes two full-scale basketball courts and an ice rink. His responsibilities bring him into daily interaction with the coaching and training staffs, as well as marketing, promotional, and community relations initiatives.

In his ten-year tenure with the team, his role has changed and evolved significantly, and he has seen the team successfully navigate challenges. Those experiences underscore his dedication: “I am proud to be part of the Madison Square Garden Company; truly and always a first-class organization,” he says.

Finding a position that pairs his love for the game with a drive to help has been a testament to the value of hard work. “I always had a strong work ethic when it came to basketball,” Mr. Bernard says. “I was able to rely on that, and Adelphi influenced it further. I was around good competition and people who wanted to develop me, it pushed me.”

Nonetheless, when confronted by the work ethic demonstrated by the pros as a young employee, he was impressed. Watching a game-day routine, including weight-lifting, individual and team workouts, treatment and recuperation, travel, and finally competition, at times raised questions for Mr. Bernard about himself, but also pushed him to excel. Today, he makes the most of his time, slotting his own morning workout before beginning what is often a long workday.

His time at Adelphi also included his first live fan experience: a Knicks exhibition game in the Nassau Coliseum. He remembers watching the team and staff come out of the tunnel and stating: “I’m going to do that one day; I’m going to be part of that.”

Now that he is entering his second decade with the Knicks, his competitive spirit has not faded away. “These days I compete with myself,” he says. “I always want to get better, to do more.”

Those plans include new ways to give back to his community and help others. He eyes the opportunity to help mentor and advice interns and younger employees eagerly. Further, he plans to develop and implement a charitable foundation based on a vision to positively affect the lives of young men and women the way he has seen his and his brother’s lives impacted by others.

Published May 2012

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