Chris Ballard
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Senior writer Chris Ballard has had a lifelong affair with basketball. In 1998 he and three other former college basketball players piled into a used Chevy van and traveled 31,000 miles in seven months, playing at over a thousand courts in 166 cities in 48 states. The book resulting from that experience -- Hoops Nation -- was named one of Booklist's "Top Ten Sports Book of the Year." The Philadelphia Inquirer called it "a travelogue worthy of frequent rereading and a guidebook no hoopaholic should leave home without." Ballard is additionally the author of The Butterfly Hunter (2006) and the upcoming The Art of a Beautiful Game, an examination of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and others who have mastered areas of the game. The book is scheduled for publication in late 2009.

Ballard joined SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in September 2000 and has since written 14 cover stories, as well as features on a wide array of subjects, from motocross star Ricky Carmichael to America's best sports bars to bass fisherman Mike Iaconelli. He has been nominated by SI for Need The Word a National Magazine Award and his work has twice been cited in the Best American Sports Writing anthology (2005 and 2007) including The Game of the Year, a 2007 SI story which examined a Friday night high school game in Lepanto, Ark., with record-setting individual performances, exhausting swings of emotion and an unexpected dose of national fame. Since December 2007 Ballard has been part of a rotation of writers who have authored the Point After column.

Before joining SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Ballard was an intern at the Courier-Post in Camden, NJ. He has written for The New York Times Magazine (where on of his stories was optioned for a film), The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Men's Health, and other publications. Ballard has appeared on The Charlie Rose Show, ABC News with Dick Schaap, and Outside the Lines. A native Californian, Ballard graduated from Pomona College, where he played basketball and was on the track and field team. He lives in Berkeley with his wife Alexandra and two daughters, Callie and Eliza.

Ballard says the best meal he has ever eaten came at a restaurant outside Tokyo. His dinner partner was Bobby Valentine and the meal consisted of six courses, with generous amounts of Kirin beer.

EXTRA POINTS

  • Favorite SI Vault story: Snakes Alive (July 27, 1998). "Jeff MacGregor's Rattlesnake Derby piece was remarkable in both tone and style." Writers who have inspired your work: Michael Lewis (for his insight), Rick Reilly (for his early takeout features), Jeff MacGregor (ridiculous style and wit), John McPhee (solid reporting and spare style), Dave Eggers (style, perspective) and David Foster Wallace (wit, genius)
  • Hobbies: Reading, travel, basketball (playing)
  • Most memorable SI story you've worked on: A January 2008 story on pigeon racing. "I love going into little worlds and exploring them."
  • Persons you would most like to interview: Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, and Kim Jong-Il (If all three were forthcoming).
  • Hidden talent: "I was a cartoonist in college."

Updated 21 October 2009

 
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