As our man on the Pro Basketball beat, senior writer Jack McCallum travels tirelessly in the U.S. from October to June. Until recently, however, the only way McCallum could expect an assignment abroad was by writing about other sports. Thus the 150,000 miles he logged for SI last year included a trip to Austria and France in November to do stories for our 1988 Winter Olympic preview issue.
Now, pro basketball seems to know few geographic limits. In the opening article of the 43-page NBA preview package in this issue (beginning on page 58)—to which he also contributed an examination of small forwards, a compendium of "Opening Tips" and scouting reports on the 25 NBA teams—McCallum has written about the league's likely expansion beyond the U.S. by the turn of the century.
The NBA's incipient globalization has resulted in two trips abroad for McCallum in the last three months. In July he covered the Atlanta Hawks' 13-day, three-game series in the U.S.S.R. against the Soviet national team (SI, Aug. 8). Last month he was in Madrid to view the Boston Celtics' victories over teams from Spain and Yugoslavia in the second annual McDonald's Open (SI, Oct. 31).
The travel has been broadening for McCallum, 39, who has spent most of his life in what he calls "smallish places," including Mays Landing, N.J. (where he grew up), Muhlenberg College (from which he received a degree in English) and Bethlehem, Pa. (where he lives with his wife, Donna, and their sons, Jamie, 11, and Christopher, 9). But McCallum must have seen some globe-trotting in his future because he studied Spanish in high school and college.
McCallum's recent sorties abroad put him in unusually close proximity to his sources. In the Soviet Union he played Monopoly with Atlanta coach Mike Fratello's son Mark, and he became a hit with the players after he noticed Snickers bars on sale at a Moscow newsstand and bought a couple of dozen of them. When he showed up in the dining room of the Hawks' hotel with the candy, he was mobbed by the athletes, who were hankering for just such a reminder of home. "They begged me for candy bars," McCallum says. "They were amazed I'd found them."
But that's only to be expected from a fellow who, like the sport he covers, is now really getting around.