Alex Wolff has been on the staff of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED since September 1980. He began as a researcher and two years later, at age 25, joined the ranks of the magazine's writers. In 1985 he was named a senior writer, and today he serves as the longest-tenured writer on staff.
In addition to covering basketball at all levels, he has written from the Olympics, the World Cup, the World Series, the NBA Finals, every Grand Slam tennis event and the Tour de France. SI story assignments have taken him to six continents and to such countries as China, Cuba, Iran and Russia, and dealt with such issues at the intersection of sport and society as race, gender, drugs, education, law, business, style, ethics and culture.
In 2006 Wolff and his wife, Vanessa, founded the Vermont Frost Heaves of the American Basketball Association, whose birth and life he chronicled in SI and on SI.com. The team played three seasons under the Wolffs' direction, winning back-to-back ABA titles in 2007 and 2008.
Wolff is the author or co-author of six books about basketball. His first, The In-Your-Face Basketball Book (1980, Everest House, with Chuck Wielgus), chronicled the playground game, as did its sequel, The Back-in-Your-Face Guide to Pick-Up Basketball (1986, Dodd Mead, also with Chuck Wielgus). The Village Voice called Raw Recruits (1990, Pocket Books, with Armen Keteyian), a New York Times bestseller that examined college basketball recruiting, "the most important sports book in years." More than 100,000 copies of 100 Years of Hoops (1991, Oxmoor House), revised and reissued in 1995 as Basketball: A History of the Game, are in print. A March for Honor (1997, Masters Press) chronicled a small Indiana town in the grip of Hoosier Hysteria and Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure is an account of a year spent chasing the game around the globe to take the measure of its impact. The New York Times cited Big Game as a Notable Book for 2002, and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED named it one of the Top 100 sports books of all time.
A past president of the United States Basketball Writers Association, as well as a member of the Pro Basketball Writers Association and the International Sports Press Association, Wolff has been honored more than a dozen times by the first two organizations, including with induction into the USBWA Hall of Fame in 2002. Wolff is a recipient of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame's Frank Queen Award and winner of two Women's Sports Foundation Journalism Awards; two National Sportcasters and Sportswriters Association Powerade Sports Story of the Year Awards; the 2004 John Southam Award for Sailing Journalism; and a 2012 Media Orthopaedic Reporting Excellence (MORE) Award from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
In 2011 The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Honored Wolff with its Curt Gowdy Print Media Award for Outstanding Lifetime Coverage of the Game.
WOLFF'S work has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing, Best Sports Stories, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Fifty Years of Great Writing and The Princeton Anthology of Writing. In 1996 he and Hoop Dreams filmmakers Peter Gilbert and Steve James collaborated on Team of Broken Dreams, an Emmy-nominated documentary that detailed the impact of the Yugoslav crisis on basketball players from the Balkans. Based on one of Wolff's SPORTS ILLUSTRATED articles, Team of Broken Dreams won the International Olympic Committee's Olympic Media Award, the highest honor the IOC confers on the press.
As a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University in 2002, Wolff taught an undergraduate seminar called Writing about Sports and the Wider World. He has also appeared before many civic, youth and campus audiences, and on ABC's Good Morning America, ABC's Nightline and NBC's TODAY as well as on numerous national cable TV outlets and public radio news and talk shows. In 2010 he served as commencement speaker at Springfield College, which awarded him an Honorary Doctorate.
Wolff attended Brighton High School in Rochester, N.Y., where he co-captained the varsity basketball team. At Princeton, where he earned his B.A. in History with honors in 1980, he was campus correspondent for The New York Times and helped found a newspaper, Nassau Weekly. During a leave from college, he played basketball for a season with STV Luzern, a club team in Switzerland.
Wolff speaks and reads some French and German, and enjoys books, music, and travel in addition to playing pick-up basketball. He and Vanessa, a nurse, live in Addison County, VT, with their two children.
Updated July 2013