Our History

The concept of a professional organization for NBA beat writers and other men and women who cover professional basketball was first discussed in the early 1970s.

Working conditions were exceedingly difficult. Pro basketball was growing in popularity, and news coverage was expanding. But it was hard for even the most dedicated beat person to perform his or her job. The NBA did not have a firm policy on access to locker rooms, team practices, players or administrators. Some teams were cooperative. Others were not. Cooperation often depended on the mood of a coach, player or general manager on a given day.

Something had to be done to protect the rights of the reporters covering the game.

The first formal meeting of what was to become the PBWAA (Professional Basketball Writers Association of America) was held during All-Star Weekend on January 18, 1972, at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, Calif. A year later, on January 23, 1973, the PBWAA formally was organized during a meeting at the O’Hare Hyatt Regency. Bob Logan of the Chicago Tribune was a driving force. Officers were elected and a constitution was adopted. With the addition of the teams in Canada in 1995, the PBWAA dropped the ”of America” and became known as the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

The first PBWA president was Joe Gilmartin of the Phoenix Gazette. Bob Logan was elected vice president and Mike Janofsky of The Baltimore Evening Sun was elected secretary-treasurer. Leonard Koppett of The New York Times formulated and wrote the constitution, which was patterned after the document used by the baseball writers organization.

Working first with Commissioner J. Walter Kennedy, later with Larry O’Brien and then David Stern, the PBWA has made enormous strides. Working conditions, including press seating and pre- and post-game access to locker rooms improved considerably. We continue to foster a mutually cordial relationship with the commissioner’s office and the league’s media relations staff.

The PBWA conducts an annual contest for writers that recognizes the best work of its members. It was originally underwritten by the Phillips Petroleum Company, but that relationship ended in the 1980s. The contest was first named for Dan Blumenthal, who was the PBWAA secretary-treasurer from 1980-83, but was later changed as a memorial to late members.

The organization currently presents four annual awards. Since 1975, the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, named for the late commissioner, has been presented to the coach, player or trainer who has given freely of his time to promote charitable works. In 2001, the PBWA inaugurated the Magic Johnson Award, which is presented annually to the player who best combines excellence on the basketball court with cooperation and exemplary behavior with the media and the public, and in 2011 a similar award for coaches was created, the Rudy Tomjanovich Award. Since 2007, the Brian McIntyre Award, named for the long-time public relations director of the league, has been presented to an NBA PR staff that exemplifies standards of professionalism and excellence worthy of acclaim.

Certainly, a great deal remains to be done as coverage of the NBA changes and expands. Meanwhile, the PBWA continues to promote cooperation and fraternity among its members, strives to maintain high standards of journalism and pursues its original goal of of improved working conditions for its membership.

This history of the Professional Basketball Writers Association was originally written in 1987 by William Halls. It was subsequently updated in 2007 by Sam Smith. In 2013, it was updated by Mary Schmitt Boyer.

Past Presidents

1972-74 Joe Gilmartin, Phoenix Gazette
1974-76 Don Fair, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
1976-77 George Cunningham, Atlanta Constitution
1977-80 Steve Hersey, Washington Star
1980-82 George White, Houston Chronicle
1982-83 Bob Ryan, Boston Globe
1983-85 Fran Blinebury, Houston Chronicle
1985-87 Phil Jasner, Philadelphia Daily News
1987-88 Don Greenberg, Orange County Register
1988-90 Jan Hubbard, Dallas Morning News
1990-92 Shaun Powell, Miami Herald
1992-94 Fred Kerber, New York Post
1994-96 Mike Kahn, Tacoma News Tribune
1996-97 Mike Monroe, Denver Post
1997-99 Dave D’Alessandro, Newark Star Ledger
1999-05 Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune
2005-07 Steve Aschburner, Minneapolis Star Tribune
2007-09 Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer
2009-13 Doug Smith, Toronto Star

Past Vice Presidents

1972-74 Bob Logan, Chicago Tribune
1974-76 Bill Halls, Detroit News
1976-77 Steve Hersey, Washington Star
1978-80 Bob Logan, Chicago Tribune
1978-82, Bill Halls, Detroit News
1982-83 Fran Blinebury, Houston Chronicle
1983-84 Art Thiel, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
1984-85 Phil Jasner, Philadelphia Daily News
1986-87 Lex Hemphill, Salt Lake Tribune
1987-88 Jan Hubbard, Dallas Morning News
1988-90 Shaun Powell, Miami Herald
1990-92 Mike Monroe, Denver Post
1992-94 Mike Kahn, Tacoma News Tribune
1994-96 Kelly Carter, Orange County Register
1996-97 Dave D’Alessandro, Newark Star Ledger
1997-99 Scott Howard-Cooper, Los Angeles Times
1999-01 Lacy Banks, Chicago Sun-Times
2001-03 Steve Wyche, Washington Post
2003-09 No vice presidents
2009-13 Steve Aschburner, NBA.com

Past Treasurers

1972-74 Mike Janofsky, Baltimore Evening Sun
1975-80 Bert Rosenthal, Associated Press, New York
1980-83 Dan Blumenthal, freelance, New York
1983-84 Bill Kriefeldt, SID, Albion College
1984-85 Ray Frager, Baltimore Sun
1986-96 Bill Halls, Detroit News
1996-01 Mary Schmitt Boyer, Cleveland Plain Dealer
2001-present Rich Dubroff, ComcastSportsNet, Baltimore

Charter Members of the PBWA, Jan. 23, 1973

Pete Alfano, Newsday
Mark Asher, Washington Post
Lacy Banks, Chicago Sun-Times
Peter Carry, Sports Illustrated
Larry Casey, Chicago Today
George Cunningham, Atlanta Constitution
Larry Donald, Basketball Weekly
Ron Drogo, Hackensack Record
Don Fair, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Joe Gilmartin, Phoenix Gazette
Sam Goldaper, New York Times
Alan Goldstein, Baltimore Sun
Burt Graeff, Cleveland Press
Jane Gross, Sports Illustrated
Bill Halls, Detroit News
Bob Harding, Newark Star Ledger
Doug Ives, Long Beach Press Telegram
Murray Janoff, Long Island Press
Mike Janofsky, Baltimore Evening Sun
George Kimball, Boston Herald
Jack Kiser, Philadelphia Daily News
Leonard Koppett, New York Times
Bob Logan, Chicago Tribune
Gil Lyons, Seattle Times
Dick Mackey, Kansas City Star
Milt Northrop, Buffalo Evening News
Phil Pepe, New York Daily News
Bob Powell, Buffalo Courier Express
Alan Richman, Philadelphia Bulletin
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe
Armand Schneider, Chicago Daily News
Darrell Simmons, Atlanta Journal
Curt Sylvester, Detroit Free Press
Joe Whittington, Houston Post
Bob Wolf, Milwaukee Journal

In Remembrance

Terry Armour, Chicago Tribune
Lacy Banks, Chicago Sun-Times
Phil Berger, New York Times
Bill Bernard, Associated Press, New York
Dave Blackwell, Deseret News
Dan Blumenthal, freelance, New York
Frank Brady, San Diego Tribune
George Cunningham, Atlanta Constitution
Jeff Denberg, Atlanta Consitution
Sam Goldaper, New York Times
Phil Jasner, Philadelphia Daily News
Mike Kahn, Tacoma News Tribune, CBSSportsline
Leonard Koppett, New York Times
Bob Logan, Chicago Tribune
Dick Mackey, Kansas City Star
Corky Meinecke, Detroit Free Press
Jim Murray, Los Angeles Times
Dave Overpeck, Indianapolis Star
Robes Patton, Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel
Bus Saidt, Trenton Times
Mary Shane, Worcester Telegram
Shelby Strother, Detroit News
Mike Weber, Newark Star Ledger
Bob Wolf, Milwaukee Journal