Wednesday, November 30, 2022 Nov 30, 2022
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Person of Interest

The Ball Is in Marc Stein’s Court

After more than two decades covering the NBA for the likes of ESPN and the New York Times, Dallas-based Marc Stein went solo last year. We caught up with him ahead of the playoffs.
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Marc Stein
Marc Montoya

You left the New York Times to start your own Substack newsletter. Did they recruit you? Substack did indeed recruit me, but I was also obsessing over this for at least a year before I started last June. Maybe longer. I was watching the rise of newsletters, studying the various success stories and constantly asking myself: Could I do this? Is my stuff good enough to strike out on my own for the first time in my life? I have worked at some amazing places, and I was never prouder to have my byline anywhere than I was at the Times, but I was driven to enter this world and see what it would be like to make every decision, big and small, and let myself be the compass.

What has been the biggest hurdle since going out on your own? I’m thinking maybe you have to be more strategic about travel, but that could be way off-base. Just hitting the “publish” button myself on every single story is a pretty daunting thing that I’m still getting used to, but you are very on-base about the travel element. It is an undeniable shock to the system to know that I am 100 percent responsible for the travel budget. But travel is also one of the pillars of my life, and always has been, so I’ve incorporated travel writing into my coverage more than ever because, hey, I make the rules now. 

I’ve enjoyed getting more of the travel stories, especially some of your food adventures—like the wild trip to the Romanian restaurant in New Jersey during a flash flood. You get one meal at any Dallas restaurant, living or dead. Where are you going? An absolute impossibility for me to narrow it down to one. Eating out is also my writing fuel—bring the BlackBerry with me and dine alone while putting my drivel together. I’m a steakhouse guy, and Bob’s is pretty much synonymous with Dallas for me. But I can’t leave out Il Bracco, either, or the sadly no-longer-with-us Houston’s on Belt Line that was almost like my office. Right before they closed I took a picture of my favorite corner booth in the bar to keep that image in my archives forever.

Speaking of your archives, did you have to make room for an orange jacket after you got the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019? If I had the jacket, trust me, I would never take it off. Gowdy winners don’t get a jacket, but they gave me an incredible trophy to take home and have recently switched to rings and gave all past Gowdy winners an opportunity to score a ring, too. It is all way more than I deserve, and I really still can’t believe it.

This interview will publish as the playoffs start. Do you think the Mavs can make a deep run this year? The season will be judged on winning a first-round series. Anything less than that would make it a disappointing season. But anything beyond that is a bonus. You can’t ask much more from Jason Kidd in year one. A win total in the 50s and a top 10 defense? Kidd is the Coach of the Year candidate no one is talking about.

Finally, Everton is probably getting relegated from the Premier League. Since you are a noted Manchester City supporter, will I be welcomed aboard the City bandwagon if I jump ship? Absolutely, positively not. You can’t jump ship. I started following City in 1980. But I didn’t get to watch City play in person until September 1996. They had just been relegated from the Premier League and would soon drop to the third tier. Your club is your club! If Everton goes down, you will want to see it and be there for the bounce back—painful as every second is.  

Write to [email protected]. Subscribe to Marc Stein’s Substack right here.


Zac Crain

Zac Crain

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Zac, senior editor of D Magazine, has written about the explosion in West, Texas; legendary country singer Charley Pride; Tony…

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