“He’s The Gold Standard:” Bob Ley on Journalism, Jordan, and Just About Everything

Bob Ley is in a group of men whose reputations precede them. An elite bunch, proficient in listening as much as speaking, objectivity as much as justice, and entertainment as much as ethics; the Cronkites, the Woodwards, the Vitales of the world. He is thorough, he is astute; if you are not Bob Ley, you look up to Bob Ley- Just ask Stephen A. Smith.

“He’s the gold standard,” Smith said. “I am trying to reach a standard that has been set by him.”

Seton Hall University hosted its second annual Sports Business and Media Ethics Symposium, with a focus on amateurism and gambling. The star-studded lineup included NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Los Angeles Chargers offensive-tackle Russell Okung, ESPN panelist Stephen A. Smith, and Seton Hall alumnus Bob Ley.

In his sit-down with Smith, Ley discussed a wide-array of topics, from Zion’s shoe blowing-out to Deflategate. Michael Jordan’s excellence was sprinkled into the conversation like powdered sugar on a zeppole, but not before careful dialogue about alternative facts.

Ley: Sports is an Escape

“In the advent of the blogosphere, journalists have to compete with fake news,” Ley said. “The line between objectivity and opinion is totally blurred.” according to Statista, only 34% of Americans trust social media, and 65% trust traditional media.

Ley warned his fellow journalists that they must stray from reluctance to challenge themselves, and stay vigilant when looking for facts.

“The challenge for credibility,” he said, “is insane.”

Ley and Smith also took time to praise Michael Jordan, who they say changed more than just the game.

“Jordan changed the social status of the black athlete,” Smith said. “You wanted him in your living room, at the dining room table, handing out gifts by the Christmas Tree. He was deified.”

Ley also took time to praise his social developments, while applauding his contributions to sports as a whole.

“He is the father of the modern sports industry. When you live in the biosphere that is modern media, you get to see some attention given to some strange things, only reserved for the great ones. That was Jordan.”

Ley went on to praise other social warriors, such as Jackie Robinson. Ley said Robinson was responsible for more social change than the courts were long after he took the field, ending sixty years of segregation in Major League Baseball. Ley, a son of Bloomfield, New Jersey, grew up not too far from Paterson, where the New York Black Yankees played many of their home games.

Ley, ESPN’s longest serving anchor, has dedicated his life to Sports journalism and made valuable contributions along the way. We shouldn’t take his greatness for granted though: “the best wine,” he says, “is made in the smallest quantities.”