Jack McCallum
Jack McCallum>ARCHIVE

As a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, it seems obvious what Jack McCallum would choose as his favorite sport to cover. "You would think it would be pro basketball," says McCallum, a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED special contributor, "but it would be anything where I’m the only reporter there because all the stuff you gather is your own."

For three decades McCallum’s rollicking prose has entertained SI readers. He joined SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in 1981 and famously chronicled the Celtics-Lakers battles of 1980s. McCallum returned to the NBA beat for the 2001-02 season, having covered the league for eight years in the Bird-Magic heydays. He has edited the weekly SCORECARD section of the magazine, written frequently for the Swimsuit Issue and commemorative division and is currently a contributor to SI.com. McCallum cited a series of pieces about a 1989 summer vacation he took with his family as his most memorable SI assignment. “A paid summer va-kay? Of course it’s my favorite,” says McCallum. In 2008 McCallum profiled Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver, winner of SI’s first Sportsman of the Year Legacy Award.

McCallum has written ten books, including his 2012 book, Dream Team, which spent six seeks on the New York Times best-seller list, and his 2007 novel Foul Lines about pro basketball (with SI colleague Jon Wertheim). His book about his experience with cancer, The Prostate Monologues, came out in September, 2013 and his 2007 book, Seven Seconds or Less: My Season on the Bench with the Runnin’ and Gunnin’ Phoenix Suns, was a best-selling behind-the-scenes account of the Suns’ 2005-06 season. He has also written scripts for various SI Sportsman of the Year shows, “pontificated on so many TV shows about pro hoops that I have my own IMDB entry,” and teaches college journalism. In September 2005 McCallum was presented with the Curt Gowdy Award, given annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for outstanding basketball writing. McCallum was previously awarded the National Women Sports Foundation Media Award.

Before SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, McCallum worked at four newspapers, including the Baltimore News-American, where he covered the Baltimore Colts in 1980. He received a B.A. in English from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. and holds an M.A. in English Literature from Lehigh University. He and his wife, Donna, reside in Bethlehem, Pa., and have two adult sons, Jamie and Chris.


  • Favorite SI Vault story: Moment of Truth (July 26, 1999). "Gary Smith's story about the TCU football photo from the 1950s. Engrossing, well-written, dramatic without being sentimental."
  • Writers who have inspired your work: "Frank Deford and Dan Jenkins, who were the first ones to show me you could take the work seriously without being serious; Steve Rushin for wordplay talent I could never equal; Richard Hoffer for his dark sensibility."
  • Hobbies/Interests: "I frequently teach college writing; I can cook a little; I'm not a horrible youth basketball coach."
  • Person you would most like to interview: "Novelists Richard Russo and Richard Ford. Because they write the kind of fiction I would like to write only write it much righter than I can write it."
  • Favorite movie: "Atlantic City. I was born there and love that sad, off-season feel of the place."
  • Favorite book: "Appointment in Samarra, by John O'Hara. The perfect dissection of self-destruction."
  • The greatest team you've seen in person: "The championship 85-86 Celtics, admittedly because it was my first year on the NBA beat."
  • Hidden talent: "So far it's remained hidden."

Updated 21 October 2009

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