For anyone who listens to the Jalen Rose report on www.grantland.com, the title of this post is a little tip of the cap to Mr. Rose. Everytime he gives his thoughts on a subject he gives his thesis statement, followed by the phrase…”and here’s why”. So in a brief post, here is why Jalen has become the best sports media personality today.
Honest. Intelligent. Raw & UnCut. Connected.
The terms above are the 4 main reasons that Jalen Rose has ascended to the top of the sports media pyramid. While he’s not a sports writer, which is why I call him a “personality”, Jalen has entered into the conversation with the best in the business based on his work on TV, Radio, and on Grantland. Jalen’s style is so fresh, so real, that I honestly don’t feel like I’m listening to a member of the media, I feel like I’m listening to one of my boys; if one of my boys was friends with seemingly everyone in pro sports and entertainment. You see the thing that makes Jalen so unique is that even though he’s a journalist, he hasn’t let that change his personality.
If you’re over 20 years old, then you know Jalen as a member of the most iconic sports team of the past 25 years – The Fab Five. Jalen was loud, brash, and extremely talented. As a media member, 20 years later, he’s the same way. Jalen speaks his mind with a perspective and tone of voice that not only can I relate to, but I respect even more because I KNOW IT’S REAL. Ask Dave Jacoby and you know his biggest concern is that Jalen always keeps it real, leading to the Grantland/ESPN catch phrase, “Jalen, don’t get fired”. Listen to Jalen talk about Champagne’n and Campaign’n with the Miami Heat, or whether to pay college players or not and you understand immediately that dude just gets it. That’s not only because of the way he says it, but because of the level of insight that seemingly only Jalen can provide.
Unlike most members of the media, Jalen has a combination of athletic experience, culturel relevance, and celebrity status that gives him access and insight others just don’t have. You see Jalen is old enough to have done it all, but young enough to still totally be relevant. Jalen was one of the top recruited athletes in the country out of high school. Jalen was one of the best players on one of the best college basketball programs in the country. Jalen was an upper level pro-athlete for a few years, and a very successful role player for many years. Jalen was a pop-culture icon at only 18 years old. This is what gives Jalen personal access to celebrities and athletes that others just don’t have. But don’t get it twisted, Jalen doesn’t simply ride the coattails of his own celebrity, he has actually become a great journalist.
Listen to Jalen speak on boxing, or the financial inequities of college sports, team personality dynamics, or just breaking down post-game statistics and you’ll get how smart he really is. It’s just that he delivers this information in a way in which none of it feels like media bull-shit. When he doesn’t like a play, a player, an institution, or a situation – he just tells you what’s up. He doesn’t sugar coat it to try and save relationships or seem objective, and he doesn’t go over the top and berate people just to create controversy (looking at you Skip Bayless). Taking queues from media icons like Mr. Michael Wilbon (one of my favorite writers and tv personalities in sports period), Jalen has developed his media IQ to sit along side his personality in a way in which people can learn without feeling like their being talked at. He’s talking to us, and with us. So when Jalen has an opinion on paying college athletes or not, it comes from a combination of personal experience and REAL insight into the plight of today’s student athlete, but with a tone of voice that is in touch. He know there’s a difference between wanting to put rims on your car (unnecessary) and wanting to have some cash in your pocket to take a girl out or hit the bars with the boys on the weekend. It seems obvious, but most people just don’t bring the conversation to the realest level. Jalen does.
One final point on why JR is my favorite sports media personality out today (and for the record Simmons, he stole this spot from you), it’s because no matter how much fun Jalen has – putting stamps in his passport, champagne’n with Hova and B, or eating some good food on ESPN’s tab – his primary focus of time, money and his celebrity is his charter school in Detroit, The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. (http://www.jrladetroit.com/) Jalen hasn’t forgotten for one minute where he comes from. When he spoke about why he hated Duke and Grant Hill in the Fab Five Documentary, he wasn’t out of line or uninformed. He was speaking about he felt as a young kid, growing up dirt poor in the rough areas of Detroit. You know what? I was middle class on scholarship to an upper class University and I also hated those rich kids that, I thought, thought they were better than me. As I got older I realized that was my own problem that I needed to get over, and the way you change that mindset is by changing the mindset of the kids in those underprivileged situations. Jalen gives everything he can back to the JRLA, even shamelessly using his celebrity to ask for donations to the academy from celebrity friends and big brands. This is my kinda dude.
So here’s my recommendation, go check out JR on the Grantland Channel, NBA Countdown Numbers Never Lie, or just follow him on Twitter and you’ll get what I’m saying. Dude keeps it 100 everyday. So that’s it for why Jalen Rose is the best sports media personality today. And for everyone’s sake, Jacoby, don’t let Jalen get fired.
Oh this is a must watch, ala Charlie Murphy True Hollywood Stories, here is Jalen’s true story of how he stole Patrick Ewing’s TV.