The World Is Her Court
Kim Bohuny ’84 spreads opportunity through basketball.
By Ron Wagner ’93
Though the Iron Curtain was starting to crack, “right place at the right time” isn’t how many people would describe being in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. For Kim Bohuny ’84, however, it’s hard to imagine how it could have turned out any better.
“‘Hey, kid, how come you know all the Atlanta Hawks players and all the Soviet players?’” Bohuny remembers being asked by David Stern, shortly after they met in the summer of 1988 in Moscow. “I explained what I did, and he said, ‘Give me a tour of Red Square.’”
They, along with the Hawks, were in the country for Atlanta’s exhibition tour through the Soviet Union, which saw the Hawks become the first NBA team to play in the USSR when they took on the Soviet national team three times. Stern, then the NBA commissioner, was realizing his vision of turning the league into an international brand, while Bohuny was manager of research for Turner Broadcasting Network, which, like the Hawks, was owned by Ted Turner.
Creating athlete profiles for Turner’s Goodwill Games in Moscow two years prior had made Bohuny an expert on the Soviet athletes and a relative expert on the country itself, thanks to frequent trips there. And her insight caught Stern’s ear.
“He told me he wanted to talk with me as soon as my contract was up with Turner,” Bohuny says. “And I did call him right after the 1990 Goodwill Games, not expecting he would ever call me back. But he did, and I went up for an interview and they offered me a position to come work for the NBA.”
In the 30 years since, the league has gone from putting the “national” in National Basketball Association with rosters consisting of almost exclusively American-born players to boasting 108 international athletes at the start the 2019-20 season. Helping build every section of the bridge was Bohuny, who now oversees the NBA’s international basketball development strategies as senior vice president for International Basketball Operations.
Bohuny grew up just outside New York City in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Her father, Bruce Bohuny, was a professional baseball player in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Kim knew she wanted athletics to remain a big part of her life when she arrived at Furman, which is why she joined the women’s golf team.
“I would say I was the equivalent of the 11th or 12th man on the bench,” Bohuny, who majored in health and exercise science, remembers with a laugh. “It was a great experience for me because I played with the best. But it also made me realize I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete, so I’d better get serious and figure out what I would do after school if I wanted to stay in sports.”
Today, Bohuny spends more than half of her life outside of the United States, leading more than 90 employees spread over 16 global offices. They have many objectives, but supporting international players and “getting basketballs in the hands of young boys and girls” through clinics and camps are among the most important and most fulfilling to Bohuny, whose efforts have assisted with countless college scholarships, educations and jobs.
“One of the best things about my job is we can change peoples’ lives, and we can change their lives by giving them an opportunity,” Bohuny says.
Before Stern died on Jan. 1, 2020, he had transformed the NBA, and Bohuny recognizes that in some way, she’s completing a circle.
“He was an incredible leader … just a global visionary, and I owe my job at the NBA to him,” Bohuny says. “I really, really miss him, both personally and professionally.”