Wright Thompson (2013)

On this episode, I’m going to replay an interview I did Wright Thompson back in October of 2013.

Thompson’s first book was just released by Penguin Books this week. It’s titled “The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business.” It consists of 14 of Thompson’s previously published stories for ESPN. That includes the two stories that I talked with Wright about on this episode of the show – “Michael Jordan Has Not Left the Building,” and “The Losses of Dan Gable.”

Thompson’s profile on legendary wrestling coach Dan Gable is a perfect example of how and why reserved people open up to him.

The Dan Gable story came up right on the heels of Thompson’s profile of NBA legend Michael Jordan. That’s the story that leads of the book. With the Jordan story, Wright said he kept thinking of the classic Esquire profile on Ted Williams, which was written by Richard Ben Cramer. That story was titled “What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now.”

“That story is very much a North Star, and the thing I’ve always wanted to do, always, is write that story,” Thompson says. “I knew going in that they’re only a couple of athletes famous enough to make that even possible.”

The book is fantastic, of course. And it’s no surprise to me that after one week of sales, it’s already showing up at No. 4 on the New York Times Best Seller list for paperback nonfiction.

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Episode 18: Flinder Boyd

Flinder Boyd is a former professional basketball player who now writes longform journalism. For 10 years, he played as a point guard in the lower and upper levels of many professional European basketball leagues.

Now he’s writing, often about basketball. His story “20 Minutes at Rucker Park” profiles a young man’s cross-country journey on a Greyhound bus to New York City’s streetball Mecca.

That story was published on SB Nation Longform. It was subsequently a Longform selection and named by Longreads a Top 5 Longread of the Week. It was also a Nieman Storyboard recommended reading selection and earned Boyd Longread’s Favorite New Writer Discovery in 2013. Finally, Sports on Earth called the story a Top 20 sports story in 2013. To top things off, the story was anthologized in Best American Sports Writing 2014.

He’s written two other stories for SB Nation Longform; a profile of NBA player Chris Copeland and a first-hand account of the corruption and chaos of playing professional basketball in Slovakia.

Since joining the podcast, Boyd has started writing for many other outlets, including Rolling Stone, Newsweek and Fox Sports, where he wrote about Rafael Palmeiro in April 2016.

Boyd has also written for The Classical, Sports On Earth and BBC online among others. You can follow him on Twitter @FlinderBoyd.