HoopsHype Sam Smith rumors

October 3, 2012 Updates
September 7, 2012 Updates
August 31, 2012 Updates

Being from New York and basketball were obvious common interests between the two men. But to Jackson, it was more than that which allowed them to remain connected over the years. “We have had similar experiences in our political life that we’ve shared with him working on the Hill,” Jackson said during a phone interview from his northwest Montana home of (Sam) Smith, who worked in Washington D.C. as a political reporter before joining the Tribune. “There is a dimension to Sam that is deep and interesting,” Jackson continued. “He’s always had a great manner in going about his work that I thought was considerate, yet not conciliatory. He dug for information, yet he always knew what was on and off—what territory was easy to cover and what was difficult for a person on the inside to disclose.” NBA.com

Whether it was on the practice floor or during games, the book told how Jordan made life difficult for the other players on the team and its coaches. When the book was released, a storm of controversy accompanied it with respect to the picture it painted of Jordan. “I knew it was going to be controversial and Sam had kind of warned me,” said Jackson of The Jordan Rules. “It was an inside look at the team and about the dynamics and the characteristics of our leader, Michael Jordan. Not everybody was going to be happy with it, I knew that. “A lot of it rang true; a lot of it, of course, was taken to the extreme perhaps,” Jackson continued. “But a lot of it was a really good portrayal of the team, how the team was going, and also the influence that this terrific player had on basketball.” NBA.com

Jackson believes Smith’s book played a role in Jordan backing off his so-called supporting cast, as well as allowing the coaches to more effectively restore a level of order and maintain control of the team. “That was probably a part of the dynamic,” said Jackson. “There were a lot of things that contributed to that. I think one of them was Michael playing in a system in which he had to form-fit himself into a group. He had to start trusting his teammates, which came from the appreciation of their individual skills and abilities. Finally, some of the shine came off the idolatry and the unbelievable press Michael got his first four or five years of his career where he could do everything from sew to cook. Spending time away from games and practices with the various players from the 1991 championship team, including Horace Grant, above, helped Smith share a revealing, behind the scenes look at the Bulls in The Jordan Rules. “I think it gave him more of a humanistic appreciation. It brought his star down to a level where he was a human being who was extraordinary in every sense of the word athletically and was driven by an incredible amount of competitive drive to win a championship. I think that was probably the defining message that came from that book.” NBA.com

August 29, 2012 Updates

Being from New York and basketball were obvious common interests between the two men. But to Jackson, it was more than that which allowed them to remain connected over the years. “We have had similar experiences in our political life that we’ve shared with him working on the Hill,” Jackson said during a phone interview from his northwest Montana home of Smith, who worked in Washington D.C. as a political reporter before joining the Tribune. “There is a dimension to Sam that is deep and interesting,” Jackson continued. “He’s always had a great manner in going about his work that I thought was considerate, yet not conciliatory. He dug for information, yet he always knew what was on and off—what territory was easy to cover and what was difficult for a person on the inside to disclose.” NBA.com

But the story that Smith told in The Jordan Rules wasn’t always a flattering account of Jordan. It depicted him as being especially tough on teammates whom he had yet to fully trust. Whether it was on the practice floor or during games, the book told how Jordan made life difficult for the other players on the team and its coaches. When the book was released, a storm of controversy accompanied it with respect to the picture it painted of Jordan. “I knew it was going to be controversial and Sam had kind of warned me,” said Jackson of The Jordan Rules. “It was an inside look at the team and about the dynamics and the characteristics of our leader, Michael Jordan. Not everybody was going to be happy with it, I knew that. “A lot of it rang true; a lot of it, of course, was taken to the extreme perhaps,” Jackson continued. “But a lot of it was a really good portrayal of the team, how the team was going, and also the influence that this terrific player had on basketball.” NBA.com

With the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame set to honor Smith with the 2012 Curt Gowdy Media Award, Jackson took a few moments to look back on his friend’s career. He calls the recognition that The Jordan Rules received “one of the defining moments” for Smith, adding that the number of years he served as president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association—four years in total—was also a remarkable accomplishment. “This is definitely an honor to be recognized by the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game,” said Jackson. As for how Smith got there, Jackson believes it’s something other than the writing itself that sets him apart from his colleagues. “I think it’s the personality he brings to it,” said Jackson of Smith. “He has a deprecating way of approaching the players and I think they respect that. He’s not a guy that’s going to try to do a gotcha question or something that goes out of character. There’s a respect between professional journalism and a player that players recognize. I think his colleagues recognize that too. He has a good, deprecating sense of humor and I think all of these things contribute to what’s made him a popular journalist.” NBA.com

March 6, 2012 Updates
February 25, 2012 Updates

Sam Smith: And I have no doubt the Bulls will be trying to land an upgrade. I’ve already suggested a few, which basically means those won’t happen. It is fun to discuss, so I’m not all that opposed. But, people, let’s be logical. I think I have an idea how this really did happen. Pau is an exceptionally nice guy. He talks to reporters from back home, and it’s pretty clear in L.A. Brown has no idea how to use him as he stands outside shooting jumpers a lot. So he talks to his buddies back in Spain, where this originated, and mentions he wouldn’t mind playing with a point guard who, by the way, has the same agent. Players say this sort of stuff all the time. Reporters who hear it nod and say, yeah, that would be cool. So it gets written up in Spain a bit cross wise and then gets picked up by an internet site in the U.S. for a headline. That’s just my guess, by the way, from sources who may or may not know. By the way, I do think Pau will be traded, though no one has told me that. And it won’t be to the Bulls. NBA.com

February 24, 2012 Updates

Sam Smith, the long-time NBA writer for the Chicago Tribune, and Bill Schonely, the original play-by-play announcer for the Portland Trail Blazers, have been selected to receive the 2012 Curt Gowdy Media Awards from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame during Enshrinement festivities scheduled September 6-9, 2012 in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Gowdy Media Award is named in honor of the legendary sports broadcaster and former Hall of Fame Board member and President, the late Curt Gowdy. The prestigious award is presented annually to members of the print and electronic media whose longtime efforts have made a significant contribution to the game of basketball. NBA.com

May 26, 2011 Updates

Sam Smith, the highly respected NBA columnist whose career has spanned more than quarter of a century, is being honored as the inaugural winner of the Phil Jasner Lifetime Achievement Award by the Professional Basketball Writers Association, the group announced yesterday. Smith, who has covered the NBA since 1983 and is now the columnist for Bulls.com, will be honored tonight during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final between the Bulls and Miami Heat. Philadelphia Inquirer

Jasner, a longtime Sixers beat writer for the Daily News, died in December. The Jasner Award is presented by the PBWA to a member of the organization for distinguished service to the craft throughout a career. Phil Jasner was the 2001 recipient of a lifetime achievement award. "There isn't a more suitable recipient of this award than Sam," said Doug Smith, of the Toronto Star and president of the PBWA. "He has served his readers, the industry and our organization with distinction for decades and embodies all that is good about what we do." Philadelphia Inquirer

May 25, 2011 Updates
May 11, 2011 Updates

In March, when I met the sixty-three-year-old Smith near his home in Aurora, Illinois, he had just returned from Miami, where the Bulls’ season-sweeping road victory over the Heat had sent him off on a 2,365-word soliloquy. It was a typical Smith offering: long and obscenely thorough, less a recap than an elucidation of the season as seen through the various subplots of a single game. Among the many things he enjoys, post-newspaper, is that there’s no editor to chop up his sentences. “Now, if you read me you know me a little better,” Smith says, “because now you can hear my voice better.” Columbia Journalism Review

This is not the first time that Smith has gone against the conventional wisdom of his beat. In 1993, he cemented his status as the doyen of Bulls sportswriters with his best-selling book, The Jordan Rules, which painted a detailed and not always flattering account of Michael Jordan in his first championship run. By revealing the superstar’s petulant and spiteful side, Smith broke something of a sacred vow in Chicago media—Thou shall not blaspheme His Airness—and became the target of criticism from some fans and fellow reporters alike. Among the latter, some knocked Smith for saving his goods for a book, as opposed to putting them in the paper, while others condemned him for simply publishing them at all. Columbia Journalism Review

After twenty-five years at the Tribune, Smith’s exit came abruptly in the spring of 2008. He says that Mike Kellams, then the Tribune’s assistant sports editor, raised a vague formal complaint about him to then managing editor George de Lama, and Smith was summoned to the “principal’s office.” Nothing much came of this, Smith says, but he read it as writing on the wall. “I loved the job,” he says, “but I came to hate where I was doing it.” Columbia Journalism Review

Kellams, now the paper’s associate managing editor for sports, has a different recollection of events and says he was never under the impression that Smith felt forced out. In any event, Smith moved to Phoenix, where he did some freelance work. As months passed without a job offer, he reached out first to an NBA team he will not name, and then to the Bulls, asking if he could be of service. Columbia Journalism Review

Back in Chicago, Steve Schanwald, the Bulls’ executive vice president of business operations, was confronting the shrinkage of the Chicago sports-journalism scene. “When the Tribune started to cut back, as when all sports sections were cutting back, we felt it was leaving a void for us to effectively market our product as we had in the past,” says Schanwald. After receiving Smith’s e-mail, Schanwald immediately invited him to Chicago. Smith was hired on a two-year deal as an independent contractor, and was told to carry on just as he had done before. According to his contract, there would be no constraints or interference from Bulls brass; his work would appear on the Bulls website and Smith would get the final say on everything he wrote. Columbia Journalism Review

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