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Jim Gray is an American sportscaster. He has previously worked as a reporter with NBC Sports and CBS Sports. He is currently with the Westwood One radio network, Showtime, The Golf Channel and ESPN/ESPN on ABC but has provided NBC with commentary during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

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Biography

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Notable events covered and athletes interviewed

Gray has been well known for his interview technique. Gray has broken numerous sports stories and has scored a number of exclusive interviews with Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Dennis Rodman, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds and others. Gray has won 11 National Emmy Awards and has twice been named the Sports Reporter of the Year by the ASA. Gray has worked on many major sporting events including numerous Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Finals, NCAA Final Fours, Olympics, The Masters and World Boxing Title Fights. Gray was named as one of the 50 Greatest Sports Broadcasters of All-Time by David Halberstam, ranking 49th.

Gray was the sideline reporter for the Pacers–Pistons brawl in 2004. He was also the reporter on the air for Showtime for the Tyson/Holyfield fight in 1997 in which Tyson bit off Holyfield's ear. Gray also reported on the Olympic bombing from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Gray served as a reporter for NBC Sports coverage of Boxing at the 2008 Summer Olympics. [1]

Notable interviews

Gray has been known for his close relationship with Kobe Bryant, which showed in the immediate aftermath of Bryant's sexual assault situation (the night when the news broke, Gray appeared on SportsCenter in defense of Bryant's character)[2] and in several sideline interviews. It was Gray whom Bryant phone called to vent about teammate Shaquille O'Neal in October of that year (a phone call that started one of O'Neal and Bryant's worst disagreements).[3] Gray's interviews with maligned baseball player Barry Bonds in 2006 and 2007 were the only one on one interviews that Bonds did after breaking both Babe Ruth's and Hank Aaron's home run records. In each interview Bonds denied using steroids or any performance enhancing drugs.

The Pete Rose interview

The most notable interview of Gray's sportscasting career occurred with former baseball player Pete Rose. During Game 2 of the 1999 World Series, Rose was introduced as a member of the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. After the ceremony, Gray (who was covering the series for NBC) pointedly queried Rose about allegations of gambling on baseball, which he repeatedly denied:

Jim Gray: Pete, let me ask you now. It seems as though there is an opening, the American public is very forgiving. Are you willing to show contrition, admit that you bet on baseball and make some sort of apology to that effect?

Pete Rose: Not at all, Jim. I'm not going to admit to something that didn't happen. I know you're getting tired of hearing me say that. But I appreciate the ovation. I appreciate the American fans voting me on the All-Century Team. I'm just a small part of a big deal tonight.

Gray: With the overwhelming evidence in that report, why not make that step...

Rose: No. This is too much of a festive night to worry about that because I don't know what evidence you're talking about. I mean, show it to me...

Gray: Well, the Dowd Report says, but we don't want to debate that, Pete.

Rose: Well, why not? Why do we want to believe everything he says?

Gray: You signed a paper acknowledging the ban. Why did you sign it if you didn't agree with it?

Rose: It also says I can apply for reinstatement after one year, if you remember correctly. In the press conference, as a matter of fact, my statement was I can't wait for my little girl to be a year old so I can apply for reinstatement. At my press conference. So you forgot to add that clause that was in there.

Gray: Well, you have reapplied. ... You've applied for reinstatment in 1997. Have you heard back from Commissioner Selig?

Rose: No, and that kind of surprises me. It's only been two years, though, and he's got a lot of things on his mind. But I hope to some day.

Gray: Pete, it's been 10 years since you've been allowed on the field. Obviously, the approach that you have taken has not worked. Why not, at this point, take a different approach?

Rose: Well, when you say it hadn't worked, what do you exactly mean?

Gray: You're not allowed in baseball. You're not allowed to earn a living in the game you love. And you're not allowed to be in the Hall of Fame.

Rose: Well, I took that approach and that was to apply for reinstatement. I hope Bud Selig considers that and gives me an opportunity. I won't need a third chance. All I need is a second chance.

Gray: Pete, those who will hear this tonight will say you have been your own worst enemy and continue to be. How do you respond to that?

Rose: In what way are you talking about?

Gray: By not acknowledging what seems to be overwhelming evidence.

Rose: Yeah, I'm surprised you're bombarding me like this. I mean I'm doing an interview with you on a great night, a great occasion, a great ovation. Everybody seems to be in a good mood. And you're bringing up something that happened 10 years ago.

Gray: I'm bringing it up because I think people would like to see ... Pete, we've got to go, we've got a game.

Rose: This is a prosecutor's brief, not an interview, and I'm very surprised at you. I am, really.

Gray: Some would be surprised that you didn't take the opportunity.[4][5][6]

Many people were outraged over Gray's aggressive questioning, feeling that it detracted from the ceremony. Others felt that given the dichotomy of Rose's banishment from baseball and his inclusion on the All-Century Team, the questions were appropriate.

After conducting the interview, Gray offered no apology for his line of questioning toward Rose:

I stand by it, and I think it was absolutely a proper line of questioning. . . I don't have an agenda against Pete Rose . . . Pete was the one who started asking me questions. I definitely wouldn't have gone (that) direction if he had backed off. My intent was to give Pete an opportunity to address issues that have kept him out of baseball. I thought he might have had a change of heart. . . . He hadn't had an opening in 10 years. . . . If I had let that go, all of you (reporters) would have had me on here today for a totally different reason.[7]

However, after the heavy criticism heaped onto Gray and NBC, Gray did offer the following apology on-air prior to the start of Game 3:

(I) thought it was important to ask Pete Rose if this was the right moment for him to make an apology. If in doing so the interview went on too long, and took some of the joy of the occasion, then I want to say to baseball fans everywhere that I am very sorry about this.[8]

Despite Gray's pre-game apology, New York Yankees outfielder Chad Curtis snubbed Gray's request for an on-field interview with him right after hitting the game winning walk-off home run at the behest of his team:

Jim Gray: Tell us about that pitch.

Chad Curtis: I can't do it. As a team, we kind of decided, because of what happened with Pete, we're not going to talk out here on the field.[9]

On January 8, 2004, more than four years after the interview, Rose's autobiography My Prison Without Bars was published. Through that book, Rose finally admitted publicly to betting on baseball games.

References

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