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'Being here is more than basketball': New Suns Assistant GM sits down with ABC15

Morgan Cato hired as Suns Assistant GM
Posted at 3:05 PM, Sep 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 14:44:22-04

PHOENIX — Morgan Cato has only ever lived in New York, which made her decision to move to Phoenix in June somewhat comical, considering the Valley’s infamous ‘dry heat.’

“The consensus [has been] like, ‘Oh, well, you're gonna love it the remaining seven, eight months of the year,” she said, chuckling. “But it's honestly, it has been pleasant. And I feel the ease just being here.”

In June, the Phoenix Suns announced they hired the Brooklyn native as the Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations for the team. According to a press release issued by the NBA, Cato is the first woman of color in the league’s history to hold the Assistant General Manager position.

Cato admits she did not initially realize the “true impact of being a first in so many spaces.” She grew up loving basketball, and “being welcomed into all sports.”

“I think I recognize being in rooms where there aren't always people that look like me, but I hadn't really put the full piece together,” she said. “And then the response to me joining the organization, immediately with a tweet, 50 million people knew my name. And it was shocking, overwhelming to some degree, but extremely humbling. And it made me think that it actually mattered more than I actually anticipated.”

Cato graduated from Stony Brook University and the Harvard Business School’s Executive track then went on to work in the NBA’s operations office for ten years. A short list of her accomplishments includes working as the NBA's associate vice president of business operations for League Operations, where she advocated “for women and people of color in basketball operations,” and “ focused on strategic basketball initiatives for the growth of the game.”

She was also instrumental in launching the Basketball Africa League in 2019. Traveling across the continent, Cato visited Senegal, Rwanda, and Angola, among other countries, working to understand the resources needed “to raise the level of basketball,” she said.

“If you're not willing to pull up your sleeves, and just be in it, it's not for the faint of heart,” she said.

And as any Valley sports fan knows, cheering for the Suns is not for the faint of heart.

In 2021, the team made it to the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years, only to lose to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game Six.

A year later, they lost the Western Conference Semi-Finals to the Dallas Mavericks after a grueling seven-game series.

Having been with the team as they prepare for the season ahead, Cato noted, “The Suns are so hungry, to get back, you know, into things and to essentially heal, but move beyond, you know, the way last season ended.”

On top of back-to-back Championship losses, the franchise has been embroiled in a monthslong investigation of the team’s owner, Robert Sarver, after he was accused of “racially insensitive language; unequal treatment of female employees; sex-related statements and conduct; and harsh treatment of employees that on occasion constituted bullying.”

Today, the NBA announced their findings, slapping Sarver with a $10 million fine and suspending him for one year. When ABC15 spoke to Cato, the NBA’s decision had not yet been released.

“I can't combat or dispute or even attest to what may have happened before me or what is perceived,” Cato said at the time. “But I understand now that we're trying to win a championship.”

A Suns championship would be the first in franchise history. And Cato is prepared for the new course ahead.

“I'm excited for people to think outside of the box,” she said. “And if I can help in any way to do that, and give others a chance, then I'll do my part.”