Bonnie-Jill Laflin has a number of firsts in her career. Laflin is the first and only female NBA scout, holding the front office position with the Los Angeles Lakers. She is the first to cheer on a professional level for three teams, in two sports, starting with the NBA and the Golden State Warriors, and moving to the NFL with both the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. Laflin is the first female to be awarded six championship rings in two professional sports, earning a Super Bowl ring during her time cheering for the 49ers and five NBA championship rings as an executive for the Lakers.
This Maxim Hot 100 beauty is currently a segment reporter for FOX Sports, as well as the host of the newly launched and fast growing Chinese sports venture, MuhoTV. Beyond her professional ventures, Laflin is committed to and passionate about animal welfare and the nation’s veterans, founding the non-profit Hounds and Heroes. She has traveled abroad on eighteen USO tours, including bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, to boost the morale of service members.
Hi Bonnie-Jill thanks for the interview. Please tell us about you?
My pleasure. What would you like to know?
What it was like to be the first (and Only!) female scout in the NBA?
Very exciting. I was there when the Lakers were winning championships and I was honored with five championship rings. I primarily scouted talent in the Pac12 and Big 12 conferences, but I also traveled across the country watching basketball. Knowing my efforts could make a difference in the success of the team and actually change someone’s life was both incredibly stressful and satisfying at the same time. It was a great experience, because the Lakers organization was like family to me.
Are you still doing it?
No. I found that it was time to move on and some other opportunities presented themselves. I wanted to get back into sports broadcasting.
What part of your job do you find the most challenging?
Like Ginger Rogers said, “Women have to do everything men do, only backwards and in heels.” I am most challenged by people who just don’t believe a woman is doing my job.
Are there busy and quiet periods during the year?
Not much down time – more like busy and busier! I like to have a lot of irons in the fire…
Do you think your approach is different from other scouts?
I think I see things differently because I look at not only how someone plays the game, but how their personality fits into the environment and how coachable they are.
Did you find it difficult to do this job being the only female?
Not at all… A woman in a man’s world is always under the microscope. I like to prove people wrong!
Do you think will be any other female scouts soon?
I sure hope so.
Any advice to young scouts?
Make sure you know all aspects of the game from history to fundamentals to the players. Do your research on high school, college and international prospects. Be credible and knowledgeable.
Tell us a funny story that happened to you as a scout?
I was often asked if I was there to scout cheerleaders! And I also had a huge laugh when I was Assistant GM of the Lakers’ D-League team. The guys were on the court during a game, and trash talking the other team like they always do, when I suddenly hear, “Oh yeah? Well, our boss is cuter than your boss!”.
So basketball is your favorite sport?
No, football. No wait, baseball. No, horse racing. Forget it – all of them!
Which famous players/coaches you are friends with?
Just to name a few…Bruce Bochy, Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice
How was also working as cheerleader in the NFL?
So much fun. I earned a Super Bowl ring at the age of 18 with the 49ers Gold Rush and I was on the cover of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader calendar a few years later. It is a lot of work from practices every day, appearances, travel, and games. People don’t know how much these women sacrifice to show their support and perform the way they do. And it’s certainly not for the money! It was during this time I had my first opportunity to visit troops by way of USO tours.
What other projects are you working on now?
I’m currently a segment reporter for FOX Sports. I am also working with MuhoTV, the first American sports series for China and a correspondent for Bleacher Report. I am developing several other projects, including a new podcast, reality show, and children’s book. There is always time for the charity I founded, Hounds and Heroes, that is dedicated to supporting our military (active and retired) as well as dealing with animal welfare.
What’s your favorite quote?
Don’t Dream It … Be It!
Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?
Two people, actually – my Dad and Dr. Jerry Buss, the late owner of the Lakers. They both have supported me in all of my unorthodox approaches to professional sports and pushed me to be my best.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’m really into old Hollywood movies so I would have to say Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and as a dancer, I couldn’t leave out Fred Astaire. They are icons and legends to this day … unforgettable!
Name one your strengths?
I’m a go-getter, ambitious, resilient, and not afraid to try something new.
How do you spend your spare time?
I’m not sure I’m familiar with that concept. I’m either watching or working at a sporting event, at the gym, modeling, saving animals, busy with my charity, or visiting my family/friends.
Do you have a role model?
My father. He instilled in me two things: stand up for whatever I believe in, and you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
Clint Eastwood/Angelina Jolie
Who are your top 3 fashion designers?
As an animal activist I just love Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood. They are cruelty free designers and never use animal skins or fur. My favorite dress designer is the amazing Michael Costello.
Something you can’t leave your house without?
My cell phone and lip gloss
Where our readers can follow you?
Best book: Lone Survivor and American Sniper
Food: Mexican – I’m a chips and salsa connoisseur
NFL: Dallas Cowboys/SF 49ers
NBA: LA Lakers/Golden State Warriors
MLB: SF Giants
College: University of Texas Longhorns
Morning, noon or night? I am definitely not a morning person!
Do you have any pets?
I rescue and foster all types of animals so that’s a loaded question! My horses live with my parents and at the racetrack but the ones that live with me are my two rescue dogs…Wilt Chamberlain and Diamond and my two rescue cats: Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline.
Nickname? BJ or BonJi
Favorite color? Red
Travel Destination: London, England and Melbourne, Australia
Photographer Credit: Mario Barberio