By Donna Griffin, director, Urban Media Project
On the third road trip for the Urban Media Project this summer, our reporters didn’t let a little 90 degree-plus weather and a 30-minute walk stop them from their assignment to interview a legend and an expert in sports media.
“You didn’t tell me this…he’s pretty cool,” De’Monie leaned in to whisper as Quinn Buckner continued his combination motivational speech/sermon/lecture to Urban Media Project students July 11 at a Behind-the-Scenes tour of Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.
The College Basketball Hall of Famer is one of three people in men’s basketball to win a championship at every level – and together with Pacers Director of Media Relations David Benner, the two shared “inside information” from their combined more than a half century of experience in sports and sports media.
Currently Buckner is a TV analyst for the Pacers and works as Vice President of Communications for Pacers Sports & Entertainment. He was captain of the 1976 Indiana University Hoosiers, the last team to win an NCAA championship with a perfect season in men’s basketball. He also captained the 1976 Olympic team that won the gold medal and was a member of the 1984 NBA champion Boston Celtics. In high school he won two Illinois state championships.
Benner was somewhat prophetic in his opening remarks. The sports journalist spent 16 years at The Indianapolis Star and covered the Pacers for eight when he met then Pacers President and GM Donnie Walsh who asked him to come on board for the hometown team.
“In your life you never know who you’re going to meet that’s going to open a door for you,” Benner told the students. “So, no matter what college you go to, what school go to, you might meet somebody who will open a door for you down the road…that’s what happened to me.”
And several students that day echoed Benner’s sentiments, stepping up to pull both Benner and Buckner aside to learn more about communication and gain the benefits of their career and life experiences.
UMP Student Report
Behind the Camera: Quinn Buckner
By Audree McNeeley N and Michelle Sanchez
“I’m not the main attraction…”
Quinn Buckner is from Phoenix, Illinois. Buckner is one of the three to win high school, college, Olympic and professional championships and was captain of the 1976 NCAA champion undefeated IU basketball team. Buckner later became a sports broadcaster for the Indiana Pacers
Buckner gave Urban Media Project reporters tips, and he also taught them to face their fears. “Pay the price and do it,” he said, “Be proud of who you are.”
Buckner taught the students that if they don’t experience unwanted outcomes then they will never learn. He also told them, “Minorities have to stay on point,” because in the media minorities are always being criticized the most.
Both Benner and Buckner urged the students to strategically use social media and focus on constructive use of the power of journalism.
“You have to communicate in a way that the audience can receive the information,” Buckner said. “In the neighborhood, you’re killing the King’s English – you can’t do it – ‘ain’t, naw, uh…’ it doesn’t work because the audience will be uncomfortable. Those are the kind of things you have to think about.”
Buckner related the challenges he experienced while breaking into broadcasting, and also about his short stint as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks.
“I believe there is no such thing as a failure, it’s an un-worked out problem and you have to fix it. I strongly suggest you get that type of approach to your lives, because there’s none of the adults here who have not had problems. You’re going to have problems.”
UMP Student Report
By Adrian Sanchez
As I walked into the room, I felt chills coming down my spine because I was asking questions to a basketball legend. Once Quinn Buckner walked in the room, everybody got tense, the only thing you could hear were the air vents. The other students and I were all asking questions until Quinn just stopped everything and corrected everyone in a learning kind of way.
One of the first things he said was, “The only tool you need is technology because people a long time ago didn’t have what we have in today’s generation.”
One thing he said that really caught my attention was, “You’re going to have problems and you have to conquer them and move forward.”
Quinn Buckner pointed at me to stand up to talk to him and he asked me what do I want to do in the future and I told him, “I want to be a poet.” I started to explain why I wanted to become a poet, then he looked at me with a smile, making me realize anything is possible if you’re willing to put in the work.
Even with all his success, for Buckner, the tough times remain an indelible impression.
“Yes, I’m one of three people in men’s basketball who’s won a championship at every level – I’ve been blessed – and frankly, it’s an out-of-body experience. I don’t take myself too seriously, first of all, but I do understand it allows me to have these kinds of conversations. I try to have them seriously and openly. I wasn’t any different than you; I was a shy kid. I haven’t always had success, but I always believed I would have it, and therefore I worked for it.”
And with the obligatory cross-court walk on the way out of Banker’s Life, there’s no better way to end the visit than with a slam dunk.