Born into basketball and raised in the NBA, Danny Ferry nevertheless figured his time in the game was done after he won a championship with San Antonio in 2003.
Perhaps Ferry should have known better. He still had one more step to take on the path his father had tread.
Danny was an NBA draft pick just like his dad, Bob Ferry. He played several years in the league, too. And when Danny took the Spurs' offer to join their front office, he was being like Bob again.
Even Danny's new job as general manager with the Hawks has echoes of his dad. The Hawks, then in St. Louis, selected Bob Ferry in the 1959 draft.
"Once you're a Hawk you are always a Hawk, I guess," Bob Ferry said, laughing at how the Ferrys and the Hawks had come full circle.
Bob Ferry played one season for the St. Louis Hawks, who traded him to Detroit. He finished his career in Baltimore and then stumbled into scouting when his Bullets coach, Gene Shue, asked him to take a look at some college players.
That was the start of a second career in basketball that included 17 years as Washington's GM. Ferry, 75, is still at it as a college scout for the Nets.
The details differ, but Danny Ferry's NBA front-office career started much the same way as his father's.
"It just happened in San Antonio, almost like my beginning," Bob Ferry said. "He's always been a student of the game. Being around it so often, it's such a large part of his life."
Bob Ferry was playing for the Bullets when Danny was born in 1966. Bob was named Washington's general manager in 1973. His dad's job meant Danny enjoyed experiences like few other children.
Bob Ferry said Bullets players would sometimes live at the Ferry home for short spells. Danny and his brother, Bobby, got to shoot baskets with Earl Monroe, horseplay with Wes Unseld, and rebound for Elvin Hayes.
"They used to go to the practices, hang out, get in the way," Bob Ferry said.
Danny starred for powerhouse DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland and made three trips to the NCAA Final Four with Duke. The Clippers selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1989 draft, but Ferry refused to play for them and spent a season playing in Italy.
Los Angeles traded Ferry's rights to Cleveland, where he played for 10 seasons before playing his final three seasons in San Antonio.
If having an ex-NBA player and general manager as a father wasn't enough of an education, Ferry got more from his coaches.
Ferry played for Morgan Wooten at DeMatha and Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. In the NBA, Ferry played for Lenny Wilkens in Cleveland and Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.
Wooten, Krzyzewski and Wilkens are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Popovich seems certain to join them some day.
"I've been very lucky," Ferry said.
Popovich and Spurs general manager R.C. Buford approached Ferry some time during the 2002-03 season to ask him to consider a front-office job. Ferry, 36 years old and with balky knees, eventually accepted.
There aren't many better places to start a career as a basketball executive. The Spurs are viewed as a model front office that excels at evaluating talent, developing players and managing the salary cap while delivering NBA championships: 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007.
Ferry was a Spurs basketball executive when the team won the 2005 title. Popovich said Ferry was a big part of that championship because the Spurs use a collaborative approach. Ferry's work in San Antonio led to a job as Cavaliers general manager that summer.
Popovich said Ferry's background makes him an asset as an executive.
"He's been around a long time," Popovich said. "He really knows the business. He's seen it, obviously, from both sides. That's a good starting point. Beyond that, he's really got a huge heart. He really wants to create an environment, a family, a culture that can be successful for a long time."
Popovich said Ferry has managed keep a good sense of humor, which includes needling Popovich after the Spurs lost four games in a row to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.
"He told me, 'I thought you were a coach. How did you let that happen?" Popovich said.
Bob Ferry said Danny used to be even more light-hearted, but has noticed he's "a lot more intense" since he became a GM.
"It's so much more responsibility being in management," Bob Ferry said. "Everyone's problems are yours when you are a general manager. It can happen any time of day. You are always waiting for a phone call to put out a fire at any time. It's a stressful job."
Bob Ferry, who was named NBA executive of the year twice, got back in the game as a scout for Cleveland when Danny was hired there. He said the game has changed drastically since his days in Washington's front office.
The salary cap and other rules make it more difficult to build good teams and keep them together. There's more scrutiny because of saturated media coverage and the prominence of social media.
Danny Ferry will deal with all of that while also helping manage a family that includes five children, ages 5 to 15. He said they were a big consideration when he weighed the Hawks' job because he didn't want to uproot them if it wasn't the right opportunity.
Bob Ferry said even playing in the NBA can't prepare a person for what it's like to be a GM.
"Some people thrive on stress, some people don't," Bob Ferry said.
Danny Ferry can't say he didn't know what he was getting into. All he had to do was ask his dad.