In recent years, the story in media has been a reporter leaving newspapers for online platforms. Michael Lee was one of them, leaving the Washington Post — where he covered the Wizards as a beat reporter before advancing to national NBA writer during a 10-year stay — for Yahoo Sports, then The Athletic.
Yet after working the past five-plus years in online media, Lee is returning to newspapers. More specifically, he’s going back to the Washington Post. But Lee isn’t taking his old job back.
On Tuesday, Post sports editors Matt Vita, Matt Rennie, and Joe Tone announced that Lee will take a role with the publication’s sports enterprise team. Rather than focus his coverage on the NBA and stories of a more immediate nature, Lee will cover a broader range of topics including sports’ role in society, along with race, gender, and diversity.
Lee’s reporting on the NBA goes beyond his work for the Post, Yahoo, and The Athletic. He’s also covered the league for ESPN the Magazine, Slam, and Sporting News. Prior to joining the Post, he worked the Atlanta Hawks beat for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Additionally, he’s worked in television and radio, broadcasting commentaries on sports and culture for NPR’s Only a Game, ESPN, NBA TV, Comcast Sports Net, and Fox Sports. With the Post‘s increasing video coverage (for the website and social media) and digital events, it’s not difficult to imagine we’ll be seeing more of Lee in front of the camera in his new role.
Covering the NBA for 15-plus years certainly provided an opportunity to cover sports and society. That may never have been clearer than during the restarted 2020 season played in the Orlando, Florida bubble. In late August, as the NBA Playoffs began, several teams refused to play in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Some teams reportedly considered leaving the Orlando bubble entirely and not finishing the season. Prior to restarting the season, several players expressed concern over playing basketball games while racial injustice and police violence against Black people continued. Those who did play decided to use their platform to raise awareness toward systemic racism.
My last @TheAthleticNBA column. Much respect to @thatgonzalez & @MrKhalidS for putting up with me the past two years. I appreciate the enthusiasm you guys brought to the job. Thanks to @TheAuthletic for providing a platform to have fun & explore creative ways to tell stories. https://t.co/MafzgL0ocO
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) October 12, 2020
Ultimately, the NBA finished its 2019-20 season in Orlando with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the league championship. And with that, Lee finished his final season covering the NBA full-time.
His final piece for The Athletic looked at what Lebron James learned in his four seasons with the Miami Heat — during which he won two championships — and how that influenced the Lakers building a team and culture around him in pursuit of a 17th NBA title. We’ll soon see how Lee’s time covering a diverse sport for non-traditional media will influence his work on the Washington Post‘s sports enterprise team.
According to the Post‘s official announcement, Lee will begin his new role on Oct. 19.