By Xavier Eeswaran
In 2011, Dipesh Mistry tried out for Ryerson’s men’s basketball team, just for the hell of it, and didn’t make the cut. It was the end of his playing days, but Mistry’s career in the sport was only beginning.
Soon after, Rams head coach Roy Rana tweeted that he was looking for a new team manager, so Mistry went straight to Rana’s office. “I’ll do anything. I’m driven and passionate about basketball,” he told Rana. “He believed in me and he gave me a shot.”
For two years, Mistry filled the unpaid position, doing everything from rebounding in practice to doing laundry afterward. Now, he’s the assistant video coordinator for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, a far cry from where he was seven years ago. So how did he get there?
Before coming to Ryerson, Mistry played basketball recreationally in Markham, and at the high school level for Milliken Mills.
“That’s where I fell in love with basketball,” says Mistry. “Milliken taught me how to balance basketball and school.” His experience and passion for basketball led Mistry to the Ryerson tryout, but missing the cut proved to be a blessing in disguise. As team manager, Mistry had a heavy workload, but Rana was certain he’d learn a lot from the experience. “Regardless of the position,” Rana told him at the time, “no job is beneath you.”
“It was a great experience for me,” Mistry says.
The next year, Mistry took on a bigger role and became a team staple by analyzing game-film to help the staff figure out what the players did during their time on the court.
After Mistry’s second year, he joined Team Canada’s FIBA Americas gold-medal winning women’s basketball team as a performance analyst. To Mistry, being a part of the national team was the highest honour.
“From wiping floors for his university team in Toronto, to developing media and scouting for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns in the heart of Arizona, Mistry’s story is the perfect example of the path to success”
“It means everything,” said Mistry. “As soon as that national anthem plays, I get goosebumps down my spine. Whoever we play, as soon as I hear that national anthem, I know it’s bigger than me, bigger than basketball.”
By third-year, Mistry became the Rams video coordinator. More was in store, however, when an assistant coach position unexpectedly opened up. “Third year I was doing video, but midway through the season we lost an assistant coach for personal reasons,” says Mistry. “They needed someone to step up, and coach Rana gave me an opportunity to do some scouting, and that helped me transition into an assistant coach.”
Mistry was an assistant coach until 2016, when he graduated from the Ryerson’s business management program. After grad, Mistry joined the women’s team as a performance analyst during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And the next summer, Mistry would join team Canada’s men’s basketball team as a video coordinator. The team’s coaching staff, led by Rana, featured former Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano, who would later get Mistry his job with the Phoenix Suns.
While working as the lead assistant coach for McMaster University’s men’s team this year, Mistry heard Triano had become the Suns’ interim coach after Earl Watson was fired early in the NBA season. In need of video coordinators, Triano gave Mistry a call.
“He called, asking if I would be part of the new Phoenix Suns staff,” Mistry says. He accepted the offer and debuted as one of Phoenix’s assistant video coordinators on Dec. 15.
“I had a goal to make the NBA one day, but thinking I was gonna get here this fast or even how things panned out, it was impossible for me to foresee this,” says Mistry, who now resides in Phoenix and travels with the team. Despite having high hopes, Mistry says what got him to Phoenix was his focused mindset. “Take it one day at a time, just keep working because opportunities happen when you work hard,” he says.
From wiping floors for his university team in Toronto, to developing media and scouting for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns in the heart of Arizona, Mistry’s story is the perfect example of the path to success: an unpredictable journey that comes with it’s fair share of obstacles, fueled by nothing less than passion and determination.