As he graduates from sportswriter to assistant editor, Rod Beard of The Detroit News give shouts to allies both obvious and obscure.
In addition to coaches and other basketball beat writers who smoothed the grind during five years of covering the University of Michigan and seven Pistons seasons, Beard salutes his wife Chiretta and behind-the-scenes figures in Detroit:
The Pistons media-relations team, led by Kevin Grigg and Cletus Lewis, was always professional and accommodating, and they don’t get the credit that they richly deserve for being the best media relations group in Detroit, and one of the best in the country. They frequently went over and beyond to make sure that we had ... access to players and coaches. ...
The coaches I’ve covered, Dwane Casey, Stan Van Gundy and John Beilein at Michigan were three of the best coaches a writer could ask for.
Casey was always personable and genuine, and he always made time for writers' questions — home and visiting — making it a point to know each name. Van Gundy was a common man's coach, able to break down complicated concepts in one breath. ... Beilein remains the consummate teacher and professional, and I learned so much about basketball just in small conversations. Start building the statue for him in Ann Arbor.
The continuous cycle of the beat has its unsung heroes, and the staff at Little Caesars Arena gave me joy at every home game. Marla Foster wasn’t just an usher; she always had a smile and a welcome greeting — and in the midst of a season-long grind, that's clutch. Reva Edwards wasn't just a food services worker; she was a wonderful light who extended so many kindnesses that helped me smile and get through the dog days of the season.
That type of grace and generosity reflect big-league humanity by a writer who joined The News in 2001 to cover high school sports.