By Reggie Miller,
NBA Hall of Fame, Olympian, MTB Racer, CTS Contributing Editor
If you asked me in January what 2021 would look like, I would have responded, “Not so great.” But as I sit and reflect on this past year, it absolutely was a year of PROGRESS. We were all hit with a terrible pandemic, collectively unsure of what to do or even say to each other. We had to adjust to a new way of life, limited time spent with friends and family, and a world seen and experienced from behind a mask. For me, the inability to really see people was what I missed the most.
However, as time went on, people came together and figured out how to get back to some sense of normalcy. We learned to adjust how and where to do our jobs. I spent six months covering NBA games from a studio booth in Burbank, California instead of courtside in an arena. The experience was different, but I was just happy to be back to broadcasting games for Turner. We finished the regular season in-studio and excitedly progressed to in-arena coverage for The Playoffs. The NBA didn’t let the pandemic stop business as usual; they committed to figuring out how to safely bring fans back to the arenas to enjoy competitive and exciting basketball.
For me, the highlight of being back in arenas calling games was a chance to work with the legendary Hall of Famer Marv Albert as he broadcast his last Eastern Conference Finals. For you cycling fans, Marv’s been the voice of the NBA for over 50 years. He called many of my biggest moments on the hardwood, so it was a remarkable moment to sit next to him and listen to the way fans were awed by the finality of a great legacy coming to an end.
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Basketball wasn’t the only sport to pivot and figure out a way to get back to business. The cycling community united to find solutions as well. Organizers adjusted their formats to find ways for cyclist to compete in races. Some had to limit fan attendance, but the racing was still competitive. It was so cool to see a lot of my friends and teammates, like Isabel King, compete at events like Belgian Waffle Ride in San Diego. Not only did she push her limits in her third gravel race, but she ended up on the podium in 4th place! It was just awe inspiring.
As we all worked to get back to riding, we continued our mission to bring young, diverse riders into the inspiring world of cycling. In October, I teamed up with Zwift and Castelli for RIDE WITH REGGIE. This worldwide Zwift ride was created to raise funds for historically black college and university (HBCU) cycling programs in the US. And what a response we got from the community! In two weeks, we had more than 5000 riders agree to join us on the ride. I was privileged to have my good friend and fellow CTS Athlete, Ayesha McGowan of “A Quick Brown Fox”, ride next to me as we challenged ourselves and others in a 32-mile Zwift ride. I’m proud to announce that the final tally was $50,000 raised for HBCU cycling programs.
So, in my eyes, 2021 was a year of PROGRESS. Bringing sports back was a big part of it. Whether it be basketball or cycling, sports are vehicles to unite us all for the greater good. They bring people together from different places with a common goal to engage, energize and enhance experiences for all. Happy New Year to everyone. May we continue to do what we can to PROGRESS as people and communities every day moving forward.