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Sam Smith of Bulls.com honored with lifetime achievement award

Sam Smith named as the inaugural winner of the Phil Jasner Lifetime Achievement Award by the Professional Basketball Writers Association

Doug Smith, president of the PBWA, presents Sam Smith as the inaugural winner of the Phil Jasner Lifetime Achievement Award prior to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

By Adam Fluck | 05.26.2011

Sam Smith of Bulls.com has been named as the inaugural winner of the Phil Jasner Lifetime Achievement Award by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. He was recognized prior to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Bulls and Miami Heat.

Smith, who has covered the NBA since 1983, now writes exclusively for the Chicago Bulls’ official site. Throughout the season, he authors a weekly NBA notebook column on Mondays and responds to his “Ask Sam” mailbag on Fridays. He also writes detailed game analysis columns and makes regular appearances on BullsTV, in addition to other television and radio broadcasts.

The Jasner Award is presented by the PBWA to a member of the organization for distinguished service to the craft throughout a career. It is named after Phil Jasner, a well-respected NBA reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News who passed away in 2010. The award carries extra significance for Smith because he was so close to Jasner and his family.

“It’s a great honor,” said Smith. “Phil was the epitome of what so many of us strive for in our professional lives, and why we love this game and these jobs so much. Phil had a relentless passion for the game and for his job, all the while being an inspiration for his fellow journalists and a friend to fans and colleagues.”

Smith got his start in sports when he began working for the Chicago Tribune in 1979. He initially followed political stories and wrote a variety of sports features before shifting to the NBA full-time in 1983. Along with Jasner, he said Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe and Peter Vecsey of the New York served as mentors to him in the early 1980s. After 28 years with the nationally respected newspaper, he joined the Bulls in October 2008.

“I’m grateful to the Chicago Tribune for giving me the opportunity to have a career in NBA journalism and to the Bulls for giving me a chance to continue that career,” said Smith. “I am very fortunate to have worked with so many talented people in the past 30 years and hope to continue to do so for many more.

“I have been exceedingly fortunate to have the support of my wife, Kathleen, and wonderful children, Connor and Hannah-Li, for we all know you cannot give your best to your profession without the love of a strong family,” Smith added.

Smith is the author of the best selling The Jordan Rules, which was in the top ten on the New York Times Bestseller List for three months, as well as Second Coming: The Strange Odyssey of Michael Jordan. Smith also co-authored the Total Basketball Encyclopedia.

“It’s been a gift to be able to wake up every day excited about going to work,” said Smith. “I thank the people around the NBA and my colleagues for that. To be honored for doing the work you love to do makes it even more special and wonderful."

Smith served as president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association for four terms, a feat no one else has accomplished. He received an undergraduate degree from Pace University in New York City and a master’s degree in journalism from Ball State. Earlier in his career, Smith worked as a public accountant in New York City and a congressional and White House reporter in Washington, D.C.

“There isn’t a more suitable recipient of this award than Sam,” said Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and president of the PBWA. “He has served his readers, the industry and our organization with distinction for decades and embodies all that is good about what we do.”

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