Matt Wurst Retirement Press Conference Transcript - 3/17/08
Well, it had to happen someday. And today is that day. It is a difficult one, a day that has crept up on me like a rain shower in summer, a day that I honestly thought would never come. So it is with both sadness and excitement that I am ready to announce my retirement from the craziness, confusion and thrill that is the National Basketball Association.
The past few weeks have been extremely trying for me and my family. This is a decision I've made after a lot of soul-searching, but one that I believe is right for me at this time. It seems like just yesterday that a small cadre of talent joined forces here, coming from diverse backgrounds and ways of life with the common goal of success. There was no other option.
But it wasn't yesterday, and a lot has changed since then. We have grown together, learned every aspect of the business along the way and put together one of the best dynasties in the history of sports. Today is not about the past, but looking towards the future. This is a new era, time for a new generation to take the reins and pick up our mantle.
Perhaps I feel as though, after being tested day after day after day, there is nothing left for me to prove. Maybe I just can't keep up any longer. Either way, I am lucky enough to have done it all in this business. I know I have always given my best in the time that I've been here, but I am ready for new challenges, eager to give myself to something different.
Don't shed a tear for me. In my time here, you all have made me feel most welcome. Even the best have to hang it up at some point. Michael Jordan, George Foreman, Joe Gibbs and Roger Clemens. As these great men have proven, there is no shame in going out on top and being comfortable with the decision, never ever looking back or regretting it. Like them, I began to feel home tugging at me, the chance to watch my children grow up, sleep in, take long vacations, let my body go a little bit and experience a serene existence outside of the spotlight.
I will miss everything that comes along with performing on a global stage. Opportunities like that do not come along everyday. The fans have been amazing with unwavering support and enthusiasm for our efforts. You made it all worthwhile for us, so please never stop believing in yourselves or the decency of human beings. I will also miss my colleagues, the quintessential professionals who brought it day after day and made every step along this journey both a joy and a challenge. You were my friends. You were my family, and I love you all. But perhaps most of all, I'll miss coming to work every day and giving everything I have to give to something I believe in.
Sure, you may feel like I am saying farewell, but I want to do more than just say goodbye to you. For those of you who have appreciated my years of dedication and commitment to this craft, I want to express my gratitude to you and wish you nothing but the best that life has to offer.
So while I am not closing any doors, I am 99.3% sure that this is it for me. The doubt will always be there, knowing that I still have more to say, knowing that I still have the ability to perform at the highest level as well as the passion to do so.
The great Bill Russell once told me that it's not about the destination, but the journey. And the journey has been one helluva ride. I know I can still do this… I just don't want to anymore.
That's all I've prepared. Now I'll take any questions you all have."
Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: "Matt, congratulations on this decision. So tell me, you've seen a lot of great things in your time here. What stands out for you?"
Wurst: "Yeah, you know, lots of great things, Chris. But it's going to be the relationships I've been able to build off the court that have left me most fulfilled. It's so rewarding to be around the best people in the world at what they do. From the PR folks to the production group to the events and attractions department to the basketball ops guys and the wonderful community relations staff, it would be impossible for me to single anyone out. But I can tell you that no one, and I mean no one, works harder and puts out better quality work than the Interactive Services team. NBA.com, WNBA.com, D-League.com. I will definitely miss the good times we had.
I will miss the days spent out in Jersey… the broken thermostat in my office, Paulino's lunches, the DCM crew, the 320 bus and the Interactive guys (and girls)… just as I will miss the days hiding out in the New York offices… the conference calls, the fire drills (both the real and the metaphorical kind), the elevator rides with David, the cake parties and stealing the leftover food in conference rooms after meetings. (Yup, that was me.)
I've gotten to see places and meet people I could never have imagined when growing up, living from event to event with crazy nights out in strange cities. Naturally, I will also miss getting to know the athletes, or more accurately, transcribing interviews and ghost-writing their Blogs in the middle of the night. And how could I NOT miss being on the email distribution list for all 60 teams (across three leagues) and the roughly 1,500 emails per day that they sent out? Good times."
Ailene Voison, Sacramento Bee: "So what's next for Matt Wurst? I mean, what tricks do you have up your sleeve?"
Wurst: "No tricks, you know. This was the right time, the right opportunity to step away. I'm at a point now where I can take the things I've learned here, the connections I've made, and give back to the people. And that's what I'm doing. As part of my retirement, I've offered to help a new company develop a sports-based social networking site - an online community for kids who play sports, their parents and coaches. Maybe I'll ask some of my friends that I made here to pitch in and help out, too. It's called Weplay.com. I encourage you all to check it out once it's up and running."
Bill Simmons, ESPN.com: "Hey Matt, we met at All-Star a few times, Bill Simmons from ESPN. So does it upset you that you weren't able to ever achieve the same level of stardom and acclaim as a writer that others were able to achieve?"
Wurst: "Actually, it was never about the stardom, really. I mean, yeah, no that's not what I was about. I never thought I was bigger than the game. I just wanted the game, itself, to be bigger, to reach new fans and connect on a larger scale. Even if I did that for one person, than I can hold my head up high and be proud of what I did here."
Bob Costas, NBC Sports: "Looking back over your illustrious career, what would you say is your proudest accomplishment?"
Wurst: "Thanks for the question Bob. I'd say there are too many memorable experiences to name here, but making David Hasselhoff cry on the red carpet at the 2007 NBA All-Star Game in Vegas was a pretty meaningful event for me. I mean, the guy was Knight Rider. And my questions brought him to tears. Not many people in this business can say that, Bob. I also think the time I got from Secaucus to a hotel in midtown New York in under 15 minutes for a Board of Governors meeting I didn't know I was invited to was pretty remarkable. It was the middle of the day, for crying out loud!"
Lori Riley, Hartford Courant: "What was the best game you ever saw?"
Wurst: "Game 2 of the 2004 WNBA Finals. Absurd back-and-forth between Connecticut Sun and Seattle Storm with the championship on the line. Nykesha Sales and Betty Lennox just going after it. Connecticut won the first game and was looking to close it out on Seattle's home floor, but the Storm would not be denied as Lennox hit shot after shot in the fourth quarter. Best NBA game was the Suns-Nets triple OT game I was at with my dad last season and the best individual performance was obviously LeBron's insane Eastern Conference Finals performance in '07."
John Lombardo, Sports Business Journal: "Now that you're leaving, what are your thoughts on the D-League?"
Wurst: "Wow, in all honesty, I think that the introduction of the NBA Development League is one of the best decisions that Commissioner Stern has made over the past 20 years. You're seeing the next-best level of talent in this sport in smaller cities and at an affordable price. I think we have just scratched the surface with the potential that this league can reach and I'm excited to follow the league now as a fan and see what these guys who run the league can come up with."
Rick Kamla, NBA TV: "Matt, let me just say, you've been AWESOME to work with. Any regrets in your time here?"
Wurst: "Thanks, Rick. You've been pretty AWESOME yourself. As for regrets, I'd say that nothing really stands out, except for the time I came to the 2005 NBA Holiday Party dressed as Santa Claus. But you know what? I learned a lot about myself from that experience and really grew up after that. I can say I didn't really do anything stupid after that. Oh, except wearing a WNBA basketball on my head during a pep rally back in 2007."
Candy Crowley, CNN: "Have you given any thought to running for political office?"
Wurst: "If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve."
Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune: "There are rumors that you were pushed out. Would you say that you have peaked as a writer?"
Wurst: "I peaked years ago. But no, I was not forced out. You may have noticed that I stopped writing years ago and left that to the more talented writers on staff."
Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: "You mentioned in your farewell email that you got to see come great places and meet cool people. So what was your favorite new place you got to see and who was your favorite player you got to meet?"
Wurst: "I'd say I had the most fun in Sacramento and my favorite player that I got to meet… Manute Bol. Men's room. 2005 NBA Draft."
Oscar Dixon, USA Today: "As an outsider, the NBA seems like a great place to work. True or false?"
Wurst: "True. Everyone is smart, talented and dedicated to the game. And the company takes care of you… hats and scarves in the winter, beach towels and chairs in the summer… and lots of brown-bag lunches in between."
Brad Barnett, NBA Buzz: What would you say the transition is going to be like going from NBA.com to your new job?
Wurst: "Do you even still work here? Are you just a plant in the audience just in case no one had any questions for me? Next question please."
Sekou Smith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Have you considered living in our fine city? Atlanta really is an up-and-coming town."
Wurst: "Thanks, but no thanks."
Mel Greenberg, Philadelphia Inquirer: "Uhh, yeah, would you, please, if you will, give us any parting predictions, like, you know, future stuff?"
Wurst: "Sure, Mel. In order… Candace Parker will be the top pick in the WNBA Draft; Lakers, Jazz, Hawks and Pistons make the Conference Finals, Pistons over Lakers in six; L.A. D-Fenders win the D-League title; Michael Beasley is the top pick in the NBA Draft; U.S. wins gold in men's and silver in women's basketball at the Olympics while the Chinese sweep gymnastics; The price of oil hits $200 a barrel by September; Detroit Shock win the WNBA title; Wham reunites then breaks up again after an unsuccessful 50-city tour; The television show "Lost" gets cancelled when fans angry about the plot never going anywhere kidnap the entire team of writers; Microsoft buys Google, then GE, then McDonalds and invents a way for people to eat cheeseburgers made on the internet in real-time; I get married; Obama over McCain in November; Greg Oden for 2009 Rookie of the Year; Cell phone chips are implanted in our brains by 2010; Time machines by 2020."
Tom Tedesco, Synthes Corp.: "Does your decision to leave the NBA at this time have anything to do with stealing my thunder, since I'm leaving at the same time?"
Wurst: "No, not at all."
Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: "What do you think you will miss most about this place?"
Wurst: "Well, in addition to what I mentioned before, I'd have to say that I'll really miss not getting the chance to be the godfather to Shelden Williams and Candace Parker's babies. Or their agent."
David Stern, National Basketball Association: "Hey Mark, can I have my podium back, please?"
Wurst: "Just a few more questions, sir."
Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press: "Do you remember the time you brought 15 different varieties of cans of beans for the WNBA Holiday Party Gift Exchange Grab Bag?"
Wurst: "Of course, what about it?
Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press: "I was just making sure you remembered since it was such a stupid idea."
Stephen A. Smith, ESPN: "Ever think about giving television a try now that you're done? It's a great next step after writing."
Wurst: "I have a face for radio and a voice for the internet, so no, no broadcasting for me. Unless someone is hiring?"
Mark Hale, New York Post: "Would you ever write a book about your experiences on the inside at the NBA?"
Wurst: "While I'd have some great stories to tell, my attorneys tell me that I am not permitted to do so. Plus, why would I want to burn those bridges?"
Andre Aldridge, NBA TV: "So does that mean you would ever consider coming back?"
Wurst: "Well, I would just say that nothing is ever final. So I'd never say never, no. I had a great time these past four and a half years. It has been an honor to work here and I would be privileged to do so again someday."