Jackie MacMullan



Today, Andy talks with journalist and fellow Naismith Hall of Fame Curt Gowdy Award honoree, Jackie MacMullan. She took on incredible stories as a columnist with the Boston Globe, NBA senior writer with Sports Illustrated, television sports news correspondent, and panelist on ESPN, where she also covered the NBA online. She co-wrote autobiographies and sports novels with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O’Neal, created groundbreaking documentary series with ESPN, and hosted a star-studded podcast, “Icons Club: The Evolution of the NBA Superstar.” One of the all-time great sportswriters, Jackie is a forever trailblazer who told basketball’s most important insider stories in print, online, and on television.

Hear Jackie talk about Celtics legend Larry Bird, the pregame rituals of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, her five-part series for ESPN on mental health in the NBA, how she got Steph Curry on her Icons Club podcast, Lebron’s image, breaking stories that upset players (like Dennis Johnson), Kobe Bryant, what she learned from her high school basketball coach, Kathy Delaney Smith (who would go on to become the winningest head coach in Ivy League history of all sports), how she got her start in journalism, lessons for young people in sports, and more on today’s episode of Legends Of Sport!

Other Topics Discussed in this Episode:

6:02    Jackie on when she knew it was time to retire: 

“COVID hit, and you know, I make my living, or I did make my living, having people telling me things they don’t tell anybody else. All of a sudden I wasn’t allowed to sit in the room with them. And it’s pretty hard to connect in the same way with someone over Zoom or over the telephone… I got to the point where I’m looking around and thinking ‘Well what is it that I haven’t done yet, that I’m just dying to do?’…I’d been on TV, I’d written books, and so that podcast was interesting to me, but beyond that, I felt like for the first time, and the only time, really, the stories started to feel the same, and that’s a bad thing… And I really loved what I did, but I got to the point where I thought you know what, when I started in this business I was 21, I was younger than most of the athletes I was covering because back then the league wasn’t flooded with 18 year olds and 19 year olds… and then I was their age and then I got to be well maybe I could be their mother, and then all of a sudden I’m like okay, well I’m their damn grandmother now, it’s time to go.”

9:39    Behind the scenes at practice with the Celtics

13:23   Jackie shares the mistake that she finds some of the best athletes today are making

16:30   Jackie on Kobe Bryant, including her 2016 ESPN article on Kobe and the mentors who shaped him, including Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and other NBA legends

25:22   Sideline reporting with key players and owners from home with ESPN during the NBA bubble

27:18   Giannis’ unique leadership during the social movements, the Bucks’ boycott

29:41   Women’s basketball during her childhood, playing D1 at the University of New Hampshire, the impact of the WNBA

“When I was a kid. I used to get up every morning, look out my window. Our road is on the flat part of our road. It was a horse shoe street, mine was on the flat point. We played street hockey every day, I was the only girl and first to the pavement, got the first game. And I was the first one out there every single morning because otherwise, I wasn’t sure I’d get to play. So I was just, yeah, I loved sports. I just wanted, it didn’t matter what… But then I just, I fell in love with basketball. And I can’t shake that. I still watch all the games. I’m retired and I still follow the NBA closely…but I can turn off the set. I can first of all, drink a glass of Chardonnay, and second of all, turn off the set when the game is over.”

34:02   How Jackie turned an internship at the Boston Globe into a full-time job offer

38:30   Her contemporaries, including Christine Brennan and Sally Jenkins, and her favorite young journalists

43:15   Lighthearted moments when Jackie and legendary sportswriter Jack McCallum were mistaken for one other

Hear incredible stories of NBA basketball and all that goes on behind the court with two media legends on this episode of Legends Of Sport.


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