This past summer, ESPN’s documentary series The Last Dance ended up dominating the sports talk radio world. One of the prominent names that you saw often speaking about Michael Jordan was former NBC and ABC Sports broadcaster Ahmad Rashad.
This week, Mike Greenberg had Rashad as his guest on the I’m Interested podcast to talk about his broadcasting career. Most remember Rashad for hosting NBA Inside Stuff and working on the game of the week for NBC among many other things. However, he was also the 4th pick in the 1972 NFL Draft by the then St. Louis Cardinals.
For Rashad, he told Greenberg not many people know that he was a football player, unless they were from the state of Minnesota and that was a goal for him as a sportscaster.
“When I finished playing football, my goal was to do television so well that you would forget that I was a football player. That was over with and I was trying to move forward.”
During this podcast, Rashad mentioned that he knew broadcasting was what he wanted to do when he was in college. That is why he began working on his craft and doing as many shows as he could well before his playing days were over.
“My last 5 years in Minnesota, I had a radio show I did every day, I had a television show I did Monday night, and on the Thursday night shows (local television), they let me do a story on any sport, so I covered the state high school basketball or hockey tournament,” he said.” By the time I finished playing and I was getting these offers from these different networks, I was not unnatural. I had 5 years where everyday after practice, I went to work.”
When Greeny asked about Rashad’s time covering the NBA, the former football star noted that it was the league’s commissioner that took a vested interest in him. Stern wanted to make sure that Rashad had credibility with the fan base. That is why he was picked to be a sideline reporter during NBC’s Sunday NBA broadcasts as well as the host of NBA Inside Stuff on Saturday mornings.
Greeny also asked about Rashad’s relationship with Michael Jordan. Rashad said it began at a charity event Magic Johnson hosted called Midsummer Night’s Magic. In the star studded field, the first person Rashad was introduced to was Michael Jordan.
“We met that night and we sort of hit it off, so we exchanged numbers, and now we have talked everyday for how many years. It was fortunate for me because I had that in. It was always access. It was fun and a lot of fun to be on the inside of that. I sort of had free reign.”
There were many great stories from Rashad in this interview about Rashad meeting David Stern, Michael Jackson, and Howard Cosell at one point in his life. While you get those fun stories, you get an inside look at how Rashad made a great career in TV and he shared a piece of advice he got on interviewing from his mentor, Ed Bradley, about conducting interviews.
“Any interview is not a question and answer,” Rashad remembers Bradley saying. “It’s a conversation. When you make it a conversation, it is easy between the two of you and your audience are flies on the wall. If you ever think of anything I have done, they have always been nice, easy, and fun. The person I am interviewing is very comfortable and that is the thing I brought to television.”