Jim Gray began his career as a sports reporter and videotape editor for an ABC affiliate in Denver. From there, he conducted his first ever interview, with Muhammad Ali. He later worked at ESPN and in 1992 he became the reporter for the Showtime Championship Boxing Series. He has covered the Super Bowl, the Olympics, PGA Golf, and many other events. In Talking to GOATs, he discusses both his professional and personal journeys and the people that made a mark on him along the way.
In this interview, Gray talks about the enduring thrill of his first interview with Ali, a moment he will never forget, especially for its influence on his style as a reporter. He emphasizes the importance of good listening and a deep curiosity in conducting a successful interview, and the legacy of such news anchors as Ted Koppel and Johnny Carson, whose reporting initially compelled him as a child. Out of seemingly endless sports highlights, Gray shares the profound impact of Ali’s lighting of the torch in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, an image he says he will never forget for its “indelible” portrait of enduring strength.
Gray dissects interviews that led to decades-long friendships just as closely as near-brawls on courts and in matches; from Mike Tyson to LeBron James to Jack Nicholson and more, he shares stories from multiple eras and across countless beloved American pastimes. From the Kirkus review: “Throughout, the author demonstrates his combination of knowledge, longevity, talent, and likability, with just a little pit bull thrown in for good measure....Gray has been there, done that, and taken excellent notes.”