Former NBA champion now does confidential background investigations

Bill Cartwright made a name for himself on the basketball court protecting the hoop and blocking shots as a center. Now, the legendary NBA player and coach is making a name in another arena.

Cartwright is chairman of CartwrightDownes, a company that conducts confidential background investigations.

Based in Park Ridge, a suburb just northwest of Chicago, CartwrightDownes is operated by Cartwright and his partners Sheri Cartwright, his wife who is the CEO, and President Sandy Downes.

The firm specializes in serving the nuclear and transportation industries, but Cartwright wants to expand into other industries such as medical, education and real estate.

“Every day companies make key hiring decisions that could easily change their reputation. And when your reputation is on the line, you have to be protected,” he said.

“What happens if a company unknowingly hires someone with a shady background or a person who has embellished his or her resume? That could create bad publicity, damaging a company’s brand and reputation beyond repair.”

The transition from the court to the sidelines to the business world has been an easy one for the California native.

“When you look at my career, you will see some consistencies. I have always worked hard, and I have always been committed to the task at hand in business, in sports and in my family life,” he said. Cartwright and Sheri have four children – three sons and a daughter. The sons now work for the firm.

Cartwright’s values and personality were greatly influenced by his parents and his early life in California. His family lived in the Valley Hi area of Sacramento.

His father, James, worked the local farms and dairies of nearby Elk Grove. He did everything from pick vegetables to work construction, and made sure Bill and his six sisters understood the work ethic.

In college, Cartwright was a standout on the courts at the University of San Francisco, leading the team twice to the Sweet 16 in postseason play. Known as an enforcer that you just had to have on the team, Cartwright was the No. 3 overall draft pick in the 1979 NBA.

He retired as a player following the 1994-95 NBA season, having collected three NBA championship rings and experiencing success with New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls and the Seattle Supersonics.

A few years after his retirement, Cartwright was added to the Bulls once again as an assistant coach under Phil Jackson, and the team was once again in the playoffs, winning the title in 1997 and 1998.

In his NBA career, Cartwright played in 963 games (676 started), averaging 13.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg in 28.5 minutes per game. Cartwright was also an NBA All-Star in 1980.

The Bulls went through significant changes following the 1997-98 season, with not only Jordan and Pippen leaving, but Tim Floyd taking over as head coach from Jackson.

The Bulls had a lengthy rebuilding effort, and Cartwright took over the Bulls 27 games into the 2001-02 season, going 17-38 after the team’s 4-23 start under Floyd and interim head coach Bill Berry, the latter whom coached for two games before Cartwright was named interim head coach.

The Bulls finished 21-61 on the year and the following season Cartwright was promoted from interim to permanent head coach.

In the 2002-03 season the Bulls finished 30-52, but Cartwright would last only 14 games into the 2003-04 season — going 4-10, before being fired.

In 2004, the New Jersey Nets hired Cartwright as an assistant coach under Lawrence Frank. In 2008, Cartwright was named as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns under Terry Porter.

Suns general manager Steve Kerr hired the former big man to help coach veteran big man Shaquille O’Neal, all-star Amar’e Stoudemire and upcoming draft picks.

After the Suns dismissed Porter and promoted assistant Alvin Gentry, Cartwright stayed on as assistant coach with the team.


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