OAKLAND — Bob Myers is a little too sharp for his college nickname, which is probably why it didn't stick.
At UCLA, the Warriors general manager was known around campus as Forrest Gump because of his improbable journey from basketball walk-on to White House guest.
“I think where the nickname started is that I had no business playing at UCLA,” Myers said. “It just kind of happened.”
At age 37, life continues to be a box of chocolates for Myers. After his tenure at UCLA, he picked up a degree from the Loyola Law School, landed a gig with one of the world's top sports agency firms and now he's running the basketball team that he rooted for growing up in the East Bay.
“It's like the UCLA thing,” Myers said. “GM of the Warriors? Come on, it doesn't make sense.”
Myers' trek from Monte Vista High School (Danville) to NBA general manager is wild enough to deserve its own silver-screen production, but he's no longer being compared to a fictional idiot savant.
At this point, it's clear that Myers, who was hired as the Warriors' assistant GM in 2011 before being promoted to the top job in 2012, has risen to the top via relentless ambition and high character, traits that are also seeping into his basketball team.
“People gravitate toward a guy like that,” former UCLA basketball coach Jim Harrick said. “He's an attractor, good people are attractors — all the kids on that team wanted to be around Bob Myers.”
Myers walked on to the UCLA basketball team in 1993 on the advice of another Bay Area hoopster with a fairy tale story. Steve Lavin, then an assistant coach for the Bruins, suggested the 6-foot-7 freshman try out for the team after a chance encounter in the athletic department.
“True story, I said to him, 'do you know where the crew coach is?'” said Myers, who wanted to inquire about the possibility of trying out for crew. “He said, 'I don't know if we even have a crew team here. Have you ever thought about basketball?'”
And just like that, Myers' Forrest Gump-like tale started to unwind. He won a national championship with the Bruins in 1995, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and met President Bill Clinton during the team's trip to the White House.
He also developed an understanding of what a championship basketball team looks like.
“You see that character really matters,” Myers said. “When you're trying to win a championship, there's going to be moments of extreme adversity and how you respond in those moments — that's when character rises up.”
After college, Myers was hired by Arn Tellem, the NBA's most notorious agent, thanks to a recommendation from Harrick.
“Guys like that never hurt your program, they never hurt your business because you can't coach character, integrity, honesty and loyalty,” Harrick said.
Myers quickly developed a reputation for being among the most honest agents in the league, attracting marquee names such as Antawn Jamison, Brandon Roy and Tyreke Evans.
Coach Mark Jackson said Myers' experience as an agent helps him in his role as the team's general manager.
“He understands the concerns of the players,” he said.
Portland Trail Blazers forward Dorell Wright, a former client of Myers and former Warriors player, said his honesty stood out.
“Agents aren't real and you need someone to tell you the truth,” Wright said. “He never just sold you a dream just so you would go with him and he could represent you. He kept it straight forward with you.”
Wright said he knew the Warriors struck gold when they hired Myers and he possesses no hard feelings over his former agent's decision to trade him from the Warriors to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of a three-team deal for Jarrett Jack in 2012.
“He called me and let me know like a man and I respected him for that,” Wright said.
Nowadays, Myers is following the UCLA model as he builds a winning basketball team at Oracle Arena. He hired a high-character coach in Jackson, drafted a player's son in Klay Thompson while bringing in other quality individuals, like Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut.
Last summer, he attracted free-agent Andre Iguodala, in large part, because of the character of his basketball team.
Someday, Myers would like to try his hand at teaching and he thinks coaching at a lower level, perhaps for his two daughters, would be rewarding. Right now, he's thrilled to be the Warriors' general manager and he isn't looking beyond the present. But he knows his path will continue to reveal itself in unexpected ways.
“There's so many things that are interesting out there,” he said. “I love trying new things.”