It’s bittersweet at best to spend the day writing about not one but two touching tributes from NBA teams to honor late sportswriters, but here we are.
In a similar vein to the Charlotte Hornets honoring Rick Bonnell, the Atlanta Hawks this week revealed the Sekou Smith Media Room at State Farm Arena.
Smith passed away in January of 2021. He had a wide-ranging and successful career in NBA media, from a beat writer for the Hawks and Pacers to his work as an analyst at Atlanta-based NBA TV.
The Hawks had previously created a team award in Smith’s honor, and obviously the press room dedication is another lovely touch.
The first thing you as saw tonight as a media member, as soon you entered State Farm Arena through the security door, was this incredible forever tribute to Sekou. So honored but also so sad to enter this room. Not sure there's ever been an NBA scribe as beloved as Sekou Smith. https://t.co/mT0av0QqnR pic.twitter.com/dti46sbuo2
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 21, 2021
Chris Vivlamore had a nice writeup for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The Sekou Smith Press Room officially opened at State Farm Arena as the Hawks began the 2021-22 season Thursday. The Hawks opened the season at home against the Mavericks.
Smith died in January at the age of 48. He served as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Hawks beat writer from 2005-09. He later joined NBA Digital as a multimedia reporter and analyst. He also spent time at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. and the Indianapolis Star, where he covered the Pacers as the team’s beat writer.
The formal opening of the press room named for Smith is the last of several ways the Hawks honored him and his legacy. The team launched an annual Hawks-NBA Summer League internship earlier this year. Clement Gibson, from Jackson State University, Smith’s alma mater, was the first intern for the program. Each summer, a journalism or multi-media student from a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) school will be selected to serve as the Hawks’ beat writer for NBA Summer League, and their work will appear on the team’s digital team properties, providing valuable experience and clips. In addition to covering associated travel costs, the Hawks will provide a stipend to the intern. The SWAC is comprised of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including Jackson State.
As noted earlier with the tributes to Rick Bonnell, it is at the very least touching to see teams appreciate members of the media who do so much to tell the stories that make sports special.