Interview With Sekou Smith - Part I
by Micah Hart
Sekou Smith has covered the Atlanta Hawks for the Atlanta Journal Constitution since midway through the 2004-05 season after covering the Indiana Pacers for the Indianapolis Star. Normally the one asking the questions, we thought it would be interesting to turn the tables for a change and talk to Smith about his job and what it's like covering a professional sports team. We sat down in the Hawks media lounge after practice one day at Philips Arena and covered a variety of topics, including the future of his industry, whether it's better to cover a good team or a bad team, and if, as a sportswriter, its still possible to be a fan.
This is the first section of a two-part interview. Click here to read part two.
Micah Hart: What kind of a name is "Sekou" anyway?
Sekou Smith: It's a family name. I think my dad was probably going through a 70's or afro-centric like phase. It's his roots anyway.
MH: Does it mean anything?
SS: It means, "learned". I also heard it means several things depending upon one's culture. I'm trying to put my own spin on it too.
MH: Did people make fun of it a lot?
SS: I had an eighth grade teacher named Ms. Molder, who called me something different every day of the year. It's just one of those things that happens a lot. The good thing about the NBA is that it's repetitive and everybody gets familiar with one another so you learn how to pronounce each other's name. But with radio stations, they call me to be on and just butcher it. I don't think I've ever heard Coach Woodson call me by my name.
MH: What does he call you?
SS: Steve. You know when somebody just decides to call you by a certain name and they stick with it forever? It's fine with me because we have a good relationship so I`m not trying to call him out or anything. Even with Coach Ballard or Billy (Knight) standing right there, I still don't think he calls me the right name. I think it's a trigger in people's heads sometimes. And the scary thing is that I've learned to become ultra-cautious about mispronouncing others' names. I always want to make sure I am pronouncing a person's name the right way. I'm always getting my name saut