Sam Smith named recipient of Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2012 Curt Gowdy Media Award

After 28 years with the Tribune, he joined the Chicago Bulls full-time covering the team on

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (February 24, 2012) – Sam Smith, the long-time NBA writer for the Chicago Tribune, and Bill Schonely, the original play-by-play announcer for the Portland Trail Blazers, have been selected to receive the 2012 Curt Gowdy Media Awards from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame during Enshrinement festivities scheduled September 6-9, 2012 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Gowdy Media Award is named in honor of the legendary sports broadcaster and former Hall of Fame Board member and President, the late Curt Gowdy. The prestigious award is presented annually to members of the print and electronic media whose longtime efforts have made a significant contribution to the game of basketball.

“Curt Gowdy was one of the true pioneers in sports broadcasting so it is imperative to find honorees who demonstrate the same passion that Mr. Gowdy showed each time he sat behind his microphone,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “Sam Smith and Bill Schonely nearly paralleled each other’s careers, each dedicating almost 30 years to telling the story of their NBA team in print and on the air, respectively. Sam’s daily coverage and Schonely’s live play-by-play helped shape the storied success of two of the greatest franchises in NBA history.”

Sam Smith, the 2012 honoree for the Print Media, started with the Chicago Tribune in 1979 and eventually focused on the NBA full-time for the newspaper in 1983, becoming a major voice in the game for over two decades covering one of the most dominant franchises during that period. After 28 years with the Tribune, he joined the Chicago Bulls full-time covering the team on

“Unquestionably, Sam Smith is one of the most influential writers in basketball history,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, Chairman, Chicago Bulls. “For almost three decades, Sam has been and continues to be a must-read for anyone following the Chicago Bulls and the NBA. I can’t say I always agreed with everything he wrote, but I assure you I read it all with interest. I congratulate him for the much deserved Curt Gowdy Media Award. Sam is a great journalist that never forgot to also be a gentleman.”

Smith is the author of the best selling book 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.

Smith served four terms as the President of the Professional Basketball Writers Association. He received an undergraduate degree from Pace University in New York City and a master’s degree in journalism from Ball State. Prior to joining the Tribune, Smith worked as a public accountant in New York City and a congressional and White House reporter in Washington, D.C. He was also the winner of the Phil Jasner Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

Bill Schonely, the 2012 Gowdy Award winner representing the Electronic Media, was the original voice of the Portland Trail Blazers starting in 1970. He called the play-by-play for 2,522 Blazers radio and television broadcasts all the way through the 1998 NBA Playoffs missing only the first 25 games of the 1982-83 season due to heart surgery.

“We couldn’t be happier for Bill. He’s been one of the strongest pillars for our franchise since its inception 42 years ago,” said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. “This is a testament to the impact he’s had on fans in the city of Portland and broadcasters across the country. From calling our championship run in the seventies, voicing the NBA Fan-tastic commercials in the eighties and his present-day work as our Ambassador, Bill has dedicated his life to this organization and the game of basketball.”

Originally from Pennsylvania, Schonely enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after graduating high school and was eventually transferred to Armed Forces Radio while stationed overseas. After stints in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Seattle, he was approached by the Trail Blazers to start a radio network in 1970. He quickly became a fixture in the state representing the team on the air and coining numerous phrases. His best-known phrase, "Rip City" became synonymous with Blazers basketball and even developed into a nickname for the city of Portland itself.

Schonely’s honors include being inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for Broadcasting in 2002, being named Oregon's Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association in 2003 and named Broadcaster of the Year by the Oregon Association of Broadcasters in 1994. The Trail Blazers organization retired Schonely's microphone on November 3, 2003.

Previous Curt Gowdy Media Award Winners

Year - Print/Electronic
1990 - Dick Herbert/Curt Gowdy
1991 - Dave Dorr/Marty Glickman
1992 - Sam Goldaper/Chick Hearn
1993 - Leonard Lewin/Johnny Most
1994 - Leonard Koppett/Cawood Ledford
1995 - Bob Hammel/Dick Enberg
1996 - Bob Hentzen/Billy Packer
1997 - Bob Ryan/Marv Albert
1998 - Larry Donald&Dick Weiss/Dick Vitale
1999 - Smith Barrier/Bob Costas
2000 - Dave Kindred/Hubie Brown
2001 - Curry Kirkpatrick/Dick Stockton
2002 - Jim O’Connell/Jim Nantz
2003 - Sid Hartman/Hot Rod Hundley
2004 - Phil Jasner/Max Falkenstien
2005 - Jack McCallum/Bill Campbell
2006 - Mark Heisler/Bill Raftery
2007 - Malcolm Moran/Al McCoy
2008 - David DuPree/Bob Wolff
2009 - Peter Vecsey/Doug Collins
2010 - Jackie MacMullan/Joe Tait
2011 - Alexander Wolff/Jim Durham
2012 - Sam Smith/Bill Schonely

The Gowdy Awards will be presented at the Basketball Hall of Fame in a special ceremony scheduled for September 6. The award winners will also be recognized at the annual Enshrinement Ceremony, which will be held on Friday, September 7. For ticket information, please visit


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