Documentary

Dei Lynam: Cherishing the stories I've told and the stories I'll continue to tell

I never considered myself a tomboy. Yes, I loved sports growing up, and I had more guy friends than girlfriends, but I loved clothes and doing my hair, too. If I didn't end up in sports broadcasting, I really do believe I would have been a buyer for a high-end department store.
 
Fortunately for me, my first dream came true. I can't believe I have been working in the sports broadcasting industry for 25 years. I don't feel old enough for that to be possible.
 
I think of the many people who helped me along the way, either by hiring me or by teaching me tricks of the trade.
 
In 1991, I made my first big move when Don Sperling, Executive Producer of NBA Entertainment, hired me as an editor. I packed my bags in Playa del Rey, California, and left my finance to move in with two strangers in New York City, midtown on the east side.
 
NBA Entertainment was the best training ground for me to learn how to edit and eventually how to produce creative, entertaining pieces. Few people know that I produced promotional spots for the NBA. They were 30-second spots that aired during the nationally televised games on NBC.
 
I participated in changing the NBA's campaign from NBA Action -- It's Fantastic to I Love This Game. I would go to Madison Square Garden and go up to celebrities and ask them if they would look into the camera and say, "I love this game."
 
Sting was one of my favorite celebrities I encountered on this journey. Opera singer Placido Domingo was another because he sang the phrase and allowed me to use one of his songs for a spot.
 
I won an Emmy for those spots, and that beautiful gold trophy sits on a bookshelf in my living room to this day.
 
Later when I was a weekend sports anchor in Madison, Wisconsin, I had a long leash when it came to features I wanted to produce and edit because my boss trusted my creative talents. In January 1994, the Wisconsin football team went to the Rose Bowl, a first in 31 years. My ability to edit coupled with my local knowledge of Southern California from my years of attending UCLA made me an ideal candidate to cover the Jan. 1 event for WMTV. 

I went with a cameraman to the West Coast for the week leading up to the game. One day the team had off, and players could do as they pleased. Somehow I convinced the starting quarterback to join me on a ride to Manhattan Beach. Darrell Bevell was a college senior who grew up in Arizona and had never seen the ocean. I will never forget his reaction when we drove up over the crest of Rosecrans Boulevard, and the beautiful Pacific was staring back at us. He was truly in awe, and my camera was rolling.
 
We proceeded to walk down to the beach where, with the camera still rolling, Bevell engaged in a conversation with a surfer. Imagine a nice Mormon guy talking to a stereotypical surfer dude who knew how to catch waves but had no idea a bowl game was being played in his backyard or that a quarterback was an important position on a football team.
 
The conversation was priceless. The feature received rave reviews. And last weekend when I saw Bevell during the Seahawks playoff game (he's the offensive coordinator) I wondered if he remembers that trek to the beach with an up-and-coming sportscaster.
 
Thinking outside the box has always been fun for me. One time on the day the Kentucky Derby was run I wore a hat during my sportscast. And yes, I was on the set, not outdoors.
 
One of my favorite weekly segments I came up with was Catching up with Ken Griffey Sr. I was working as a weekend sportscaster in Cincinnati and Griffey was a coach for the Reds.
 
Once a week I would go to the ballpark, and he and I would talk baseball while having a catch. Having a conversation while tossing a ball with a member of the Big Red Machine -- so cool.
 
The people and the adventures have been the greatest part of being a sports journalist. I have walked on the Great Wall of China because I went to Beijing to interview Yao Ming live the day he was selected No. 1 overall in 2002. I have been on a safari in the Masai Mara on the heels of traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Dikembe Mutombo, who was building a hospital in his home country.
 
Storytelling is a dying art in this age of sharing information in 140 characters or less. A few stories that I will cherish having told are the following.
 
•  I ventured to upstate New York to interview prisoners who were in a program to rehab former racehorses that had been left to die after their careers were over. Seeing men, some of whom had been charged with murder, find a way to care for an animal and be humbled in the process was amazing.
 
•  I flew to California to interview five of the most powerful agents in sports, including Lee Steinberg and Arn Tellem.
 
•  Going Christmas shopping with the St. Joe's Hawks was a blast.
 
•  Attending a summer camp called Seeds of Peace where children from Israel and Palestine live under one roof. To hear their conversations about their respective homelands was both fascinating and heartwarming.
 
•  Finding the stories of MVPs in the sports community -- the people who make a difference has always been a treat.
 
Finally, I want to share a thought that has served me well: Don’t be afraid to try something new. I have been a sideline reporter, a studio host, an anchor, a beat writer, a play-by-play announcer and a color analyst. Twice, I have taken a leap of faith and joined a start-up operation, first with Comcast SportsNet and then with NBA-TV. The business is ever-changing, but it's been a great challenge to change with it and stay relevant in an industry I so enjoy being a part of.