ORLANDO, Fla. — Tim Frank is the NBA’s big guy in charge of media relations, and swell to be around, but if you step out of line, be prepared to hear about it because Tim is, uh, frank.
Like, if you’re late getting in a request to attend a team practice, T-Frank will send you an email or text that’ll begin “hey pal” and you better believe his fingers hit those keys really hard. So don’t mess with the man.
But T-Frank just delivered a message that was totally good news. He said: “When you leave here, you can keep your press credential.”
I should explain. The NBA security is super-sensitive and so when you leave this Walt Disney World campus, they want that press pass, probably to avoid duplication by any unscrupulous reporters (seriously, we would do that?).
But because I’ve been getting my practice requests in on time, or maybe T-Frank just rolled out of the right side of the bed, he worked some back channels and the NBA will send my credential to me at a later date.
Of course, you’re asking: What’s the big deal? So I guess I should explain further. My credential has been my constant and daily (and required) partner through this entire process. I’ve changed shirts, shoes, underwear (thank goodness) and socks, but never the credential. We’ve become inseparable, like Brook and Robin Lopez of the Bucks.
There’s another reason this is a must-keepsake: This and other credentials tell my professional story better than I could. In fact, I’ve saved several hundred of them over the decades and many are framed on my office wall back home.
They make for a striking optic, all the different colors, shapes, sporting events and also shades of me, since I had plenty of hair on the old credentials and a far more handsome face.
The special ones are front-and-center in the frame. They include: The Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield “bite fight,” Wimbledon, Michael Jordan’s two retirements from the Bulls, Jack Nicklaus’ final British Open, two from the NBA’s games in South Africa, several from the golf and tennis US Opens, several from the Masters, every Summer and Winter Olympic Games I attended and a collection of Super Bowls, Final Fours, World Series, Stanley Cup playoffs, All-Star Games and NBA Finals. I even have credentials to events at arenas and stadiums that no longer exist. That’s a lifetime of work.
My most valuable? A football game against the Giants and Chiefs in Kansas City, and not just any game, but the first NFL contest after Sept. 11, 2001, which claimed the life of my brother and thousands of others. Twenty years later, I’m still not sure how I managed the strength to gather my shattered self, get on a plane and then work that game while everyone in the press box stared at me.
I got the idea to save credentials from the late Dave Anderson, the revered sports columnist at The New York Times, who emphasized the importance of preserving one’s history. Dave’s most cherished credential was from the Ali-Foreman fight in Zaire back in the 1970s. He said it’s made of bamboo.
They’re not just tokens from a sporting event. They’re also reminders of where I was at that point in my life, much like you feel when you hear a favorite song from back in the day.
The credential from this NBA restart will instantly go on my personal wall of fame. It will be the most dog-eared credential of the bunch, and it’ll be like DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak or Wilt’s 100-point game, because I can’t imagine getting another credential that requires me to wear it for two-plus months.
Therefore, I owe Tim Frank a big solid. I’ll start by getting my practice request in on time today.
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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .
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