Bob Ryan is the only sportswriter to have made an NBA substitution. In his 2014 book Scribe he shared this along with many other vignettes. Though no one can verify, “or deny” these happenings, the story was told as follows:
I was sitting in my usual road press seat, next to the Celtics bench. During a time- out I said to Heinsohn, ‘Tommy, Nellie only needs two for ten thousand. He’s not going to get it at home. Why don’t you put him back in to get the two points today?’ So help me God, Heinsohn summoned Nelson. They ran a play for him, he nailed his jumper, he came out.
When asked how a modern day journalists could create that kind of relationship with their writing subjects, he frankly explained that it is close to impossible. In Ryan’s era of sports coverage there was only one person that could be found covering a team in contrast to today where “everyone” is a journalist. Demand is high, and supply is limited; There aren’t enough coaches or players per journalist and there surely is not enough time to foster these kinds of relationships. The internet has not only made our world smaller, but has made it so that people want new information as quickly as possible. When consumers refresh their feed they want to know what their favorite players are doing and as a result the reporters h
In an earlier post I established that no two journalists will have the same journey, but I must further mention that the rapid changes in media further solidifies this theory. There are so many forms of journalism that it not possible to equitably compare sports reporters. Furthermore, Mr. Ryan’s success and sports journalism, cannot be compared to that of a reporter today because the mediums that they used continue to change.
When I first read Mr. Ryan’s book I was inspired by his easy quest to the world of sports writing, but was then discouraged knowing there was not much I could take from his personal experiences. I can model his work ethic and determination to succeed, in addition to his example of networking with other, but it seems as those this story is no “happily ever after” for those looking to follow his lead.
It is always wise to listen to the experiences of those before us in order than we may learn from their mistakes, and yet there are bound to be challenges that we will experience on our own. Mr. Ryan’s career ended well, but as an aspiring journalist in today’s society I realize that I should just take what I need from his experience. The greatest takeaway I have from Mr. Ryan’s career to aspire to stand out among the rest of my peers, just as he did in his era.