Marc Stein ’91 (B.A. communications) has joined the ranks of sports media greats like Bob Costas, Chick Hearn and Dick Vitale.
On Feb. 15, Stein was honored with a 2019 Curt Gowdy Media Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in recognition of his considerable contributions to basketball media over the past 30 years.
Stein began covering the NBA as a student at Cal State Fullerton, reporting for the Orange County Register. After stints at the Los Angeles Daily News, Dallas Morning News and ESPN, he is now a reporter for The New York Times and boasts a Twitter following of more than 1.2 million basketball fans.
How do you feel about being named to the basketball hall of fame?
It is, quite simply, as humbling, surreal and wonderful as anything that has happened in my professional life.
What do you consider to be your most significant contribution to basketball?
All I’ve really tried to do is cover the sport as fairly, critically and comprehensively as I knew how, while also never losing sight of how lucky I’ve been to have this opportunity. This sport gave me the opportunity to live a life I dreamed of as a kid and throughout my time at Cal State Fullerton.
Do you have a favorite media platform? Where do you see NBA coverage going in the future?
My answer might surprise people, but I put radio right at the top. Talking hoops with my buddies at El Toro High School in the 1980s is what cemented my love affair with the NBA. And that’s what radio allows you to do — talk hoops with your buddies.
I wish I was smart enough to know where the technology will take us, but it’s way too unpredictable. Twitter changed the sport like nothing else in my three decades — and no one I know saw it coming. I’m sure there will be something else in the near future to change the landscape again.
How did your experiences at CSUF prepare you for your career?
My time at Fullerton was vital! Not only was the Daily Titan as good as it gets in terms of a college publication — with a very wise and seasoned adviser in Jay Berman — but the staff in my era (1987-91) was filled with at least a dozen aspiring sports writers who were all hungry to “go pro.” Every single one of us worked part-time at a daily newspaper, in addition to our studies and our Daily Titan duties, because we were all trying to further our careers. It was an incredibly competitive environment, and we all pushed each other. I’m convinced that being in that setting helped get me ready for the competitive nature of covering top-level team sports.
What advice do you have for current CSUF students interested in a career in media?
Sample every medium you can. And try to get any kind of part-time job you can muster in a professional environment, without adversely affecting your studies. The more versatile you are can only serve you well. Print, radio, TV, production, editing, video, photography — don’t rule out anything, because you don’t know where it might lead.
I would also say that there is no substitute for pushing yourself to the limit and working as hard as you can. I worked 30 hours a week for the OC Register throughout my four years at the university, and I don’t think I could have made it onto the NBA beat so young otherwise. The media world is a long way from glamorous, but zillions of people still want to do it — especially in sports. Standing out from the crowd is only getting tougher. I’ve always believed this: rest assured that someone out there is working harder than you, as we speak, to get where you want to go.