TH: You're a columnist for ESPN.com and have been an editor for Slam, Hoops, Inside Stuff, among others. Would you consider yourself a reporter or a writer?
SJ: I would say I'm a writer first. I never gained an appreciation for reporting. I could never get into that—beat writing. It's a hard job. Those people are vultures. Managing editors sit back and dictate things but don't do it themselves. They're looking so much for stuff. It's worse in entertainment, but pro sports figures are held to a higher degree than other professions. Hell, half the people we hold dear as icons like musicians were drug addicts.
But you never hold that against them. Editors seem to have a hatred for some athletes. It's like they're out to get them. I'll be at games and I look down at all the reporters crowding them, trying to get quotes. All I think is, "Careful guys, they're out to get you."
But as I got older, I got to appreciate what my father [a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver] did. I don't want to use the word "nauseating" [to describe reporters]. But I just sit back and look and say, "What are these people after?"
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TH: Race plays a major role in much of your writings. How much does race affect sports?
SJ: Race plays no more role in pro sports than the everyday business world. But it is one of the main businesses where the people in it are predominantly people of color. Look at all of the mayors in the country. How many of them are black? Quite a few. But then you look at how many governors are black. How many senators? Very few. It's the same in sports. The further you go up (in management) it dwindles and dwindles and dwindles. Pro sports is a microcosm of life. I at times find myself to be the reminder of it. If we don't remind people of the issues, they don't stay at the forefront. We're still dealing with issues of race in this country. Look at Michael Jordan and the issues he's faced trying to buy a team. And he's trying to buy them with the money. Bob Johnson owns a team now [the Charlotte Bobcats]. It took a billionaire for a black man to own an NBA team. How many other owners are billionaires?
Off the top of my head, Scoop? Mark Cuban (Mavs), the Maloofs (Sacto), Paul Allen (6th richest man in the world) (Blazers), Mickey Arison (Heat), James Dolan (Knicks), Donald Sterling (Clips), William Davidson (Pistons), Gordon Gund (Cavs), Glen Taylor (T-Wolves), the Simons (Pacers), Stan Kroenke (Nuggets), Richard DeVos (Magic). Other recent billionaire owners included John McCaw (Grizz), Ted Turner (Hawks), and Ross Perot (Mavs). Other than them, Scoop? Can't think of any (but I'm sure I missed some).