This is very uncomfortable for me. I’m not in the habit of talking about myself, so I hope you won’t mind indulging me for a few minutes.
Few of us are fortunate enough to say they did what they wanted to with their lives. Most of the time, we get diverted from our career objective or we simply never find what we’re looking for.
Me? I was lucky. I knew I wanted to be a journalist from when I was in eighth grade. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done.
Storytelling is a gift and I was blessed to possess such a gift. Being a good listener. Being able to be fair and objective. Being accurate. I’ve spent my entire life trying to incorporate those traits in my work.
I never thought it would get me into anyone’s Hall of Fame. I figured that’s reserved for the big time guys — the Red Smiths, Jim Murrays and Jerry Izenbergs of the sportswriting world. It was never on my radar, to be honest. My focus was simply to write a good story whenever I sat in front of a keyboard, be it a typewriter or a computer.
On Friday, I am scheduled to receive such an honor as a member of the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019. I’m going in with some real stars — former UNLV football players Hunkie Cooper and Steve Stallworth, local baseball legends Mike Martin and Manny Guerra, and an entire NHL organization — the Vegas Golden Knights.
I’m proud of my career’s work in journalism and what I have done in Las Vegas since arriving in 1988. It’ll be 31 years in August and I have been fortunate to see and cover so many amazing things as part of the community’s growth.
And I owe a big debt of gratitude to Bill Paulos, the owner of Gaming Today, and to Howard Barish, the general manager and managing editor, for bringing me on board last September to help with the transition and new era of GT while allowing me to remain here in Las Vegas and serve the readers, many who had followed me at the Sun and the Review-Journal.
Whether it’s a Hall of Fame-worthy resume, I’ll let you decide.
But to me, the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame has played an important role in recognizing the accomplishments of athletes, coaches, administrators, entire teams and yes, even journalists. The late boxing writer Royce Feour, who we lost in December, was the first and only sportswriter to be inducted. I’m sad he won’t be there to see this.
Since its inception in 1996, the SNSHOF has helped bring the local sports community together for one night, celebrate the accomplishments of individuals and teams, help young people and charities through scholarships and grants advance their lives and agendas.
The Orleans Arena, which Stallworth helped operate when it was built in 2003, has been the host site for the dinner and ceremony. Some 800 people will be on hand Friday and what they’ll see is a city that has more sports teams being represented and more individual great athletes performing in it than we’ve ever had in our community’s history.
When the Hall inducted quarterback David Humm in 1997 in its one-person inaugural class, there was no NFL team in Las Vegas. There was no NHL team either though the city had a minor league hockey team. The WNBA was just starting out but wouldn’t come here for 20 years. Pro soccer in Las Vegas was played indoors, not outdoors.
We were a city with a couple of pro golf tournaments, a NASCAR race, some world title boxing matches and some mixed martial arts events, a triple-A baseball team and, of course, UNLV.
But things evolve over time. Look at where we are today.
We’ve got an NHL team which plays to 105 percent capacity every night. We’re getting the NFL a year from now to play in a magnificent domed stadium currently under construction by Russell Road. We’ve got a WNBA team. There’s talk of the NBA and Major League Baseball putting down roots in Las Vegas. And we have competing entities trying to bring Major League Soccer to town.
We’re looking to bring the NCAA’s Final Four to Vegas. Same for the national college football playoff and championship as well as other NCAA championships. We have two NASCAR races a year. Our PGA Tour event, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, attracts a standout field annually.
To have been a first-hand eyewitness to this amazing growth and to have been fortunate to have chronicled it, first at the Sun, then at the Review-Journal, now at Gaming Today, has been a blessing as well as an honor.
Two years ago, I was inducted into the United States Basketball Writers Association’s Hall of Fame for my work in covering that sport. If that was the only Hall I would ever be a member of, that would have been just fine.
But Friday’s honor of going into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame is extra special because I have been part of this community for such a long time, as is the case with the other 109 members.
I may have grown up in Brooklyn and I’ve never forgotten where I came from. But Southern Nevada is home. How can it not be after all these years?
As I prepared to write this, I was reflecting back and thought about all the events I got to attend, all the great athletes I’ve covered and interviewed, the two books I’ve written, all the awards I’ve been fortunate enough to have won for my work over the years which I’ve garnered a byline, and I thought, “Did I really do all that?”
Yeah, I did. And I hope to do a lot more before they take my laptop or whatever future device I will tell people’s stories from away from me.
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