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Bob Ryan

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Bob Ryan

Bob Ryan
Born (1946-02-21) February 21, 1946
Trenton, New Jersey
Education The Lawrenceville School
Boston College
Spouse(s) Elaine(1969 –present)
Children Keith (1970-2008),Jessica (1976-

Robert "Bob" P. Ryan (born February 21, 1946) is an American sportswriter for The Boston Globe. He has been described as "the quintessential American sportswriter" and a basketball guru[1] and is well known for his coverage of the sport including his famous stories covering the Boston Celtics in the 1970s. After graduating from Boston College, Ryan started as a sports intern for the Globe on the same day as Peter Gammons,[2] and later worked with other Globe sports writing legends Will McDonough and Leigh Montville. Ryan announced in early 2012 his retirement from sports writing after 44 years once the 2012 Olympic Games concluded. His final column in The Boston Globe was published August 12, 2012.

Biography and career

Personal background

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Ryan grew up in a house, "that revolved around going to games"[3] and went to high school at the Lawrenceville School from 1960 to 1964. He graduated from Boston College as a history major in 1968. Ryan and his wife Elaine have a daughter Jessica, and a son Keith who died in 2008. They are grandparents of triplets. They have been married since 1969. Today, Ryan lives in Hingham, Massachusetts.[4] The dedication page in Forty Eight Minutes, one of Ryan's books, says, "To Elaine Ryan: In the next life, maybe you'll get a nine-to-five man who makes seven figures." Ryan has also done humanitarian fundraisers for years to help inner-city teenagers with their educations.

Son's death

On January 28, 2008 his 37-year-old son Keith, was found dead in his home in Islamabad, Pakistan. Initial reports indicated that his death was an apparent suicide, however reports in the Pakistani newspapers Dawn and The News International indicated that Ryan's death may be investigated as a murder. A State Department spokesperson would only say the death was under investigation.[5] Bob Ryan released the following statement: "Everyone is devastated. I am well aware of these reports and we are very concerned about that. (But) we have no reason at this time to doubt the official version".[6]

Keith had been working in Pakistan since December 2006 as an attache for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Keith was a 1988 graduate of Hingham High School, Trinity College, the London School of Economics and Boston College Law School. He had previously worked for the U.S. Border Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, where he was assigned to the violent gang task force. Keith was married to Kate and had three children, Conor, John, and Amelia, who live in Silver Spring, Maryland.[7][8][9]

Celtics beat writer

In the fall of 1969 a vacancy on the Globe's Celtics beat was created, and Ryan got the job. While covering the Celtics, Ryan developed a close relationship with the Celtics organization. Ryan would even go out to dinner with the team.[2] Ryan sat at the press table 8 seats from the Celtics' bench, where colleagues referred to him as the "Commissioner", not unlike Peter Gammons's nickname. Boston Sports Media critic Bruce Allen[10] has said, "His passion is not faked."[11]

One night Hue Hollins, the referee, went to the press table to explain a call to Ryan during a time-out even though he was not obligated to. Another time Ryan wrote a column about the Washington Bullets' Rick Mahorn and how he played dirty under the hoop. When Mahorn was called for a foul Gene Shue, the Bullets' coach, turned around and said, "That's your fault, Bob Ryan, your fault!" Dennis Johnson was often annoyed with Ryan and would go up to the press table and say, "Hey, Bob, keep it down. We got a game going on here" when Ryan sideline coached.[12] From Ryan's first column on Larry Bird headlined "Celtics draft Bird for oh what a future" to his last "Larry! Larry! Larry!" Ryan was always a fan of his and eventually co-authored a book with him.[13]

In Tom (Tommy) Heinsohn's book Give 'em the Hook, Heinsohn is negative towards Ryan. Ryan, who began writing for the Globe in Heinsohn's rookie season as a coach, would make friends with the players and vent their feelings towards Heinsohn, their fans, and their teammates, claims Heinsohn. Heinsohn didn't like how he didn't feel in control of his team. Heinsohn believes that Ryan started to "think of himself as another member of the family" and that he even started coaching the team through his beat stories. Heinsohn goes on to talk about Ryan's bloated ego and the fact that he was then thinking of himself as a basketball guru. Heinsohn also says while noting disapproval of Ryan that at the time anyone who lived in Boston and even remotely followed basketball read Bob Ryan.[14] In recent years Ryan has been less critical of Celtics coaches, including Doc Rivers, of whom he said, "I'm a Doc guy."

General sports columnist

In 1982 Ryan would hand the torch of the Globe Celtics beat to then-not well known Dan Shaughnessy, and later Jackie MacMullan. He did this in order to go to WCVB for a couple of years. Ryan ended up hating it and moved back to the Celtics beat in 1984 for two more seasons before getting promoted to general sports columnist in 1989.[15]

Ryan would cover 20 NBA finals, 20 Final Fours, nine World Series, five Super Bowls, the last seven Olympics and many other events. In recent times Ryan has become less basketball-oriented and more general sports-oriented. He continues to write for Basketball Times. Ryan votes for the Baseball Hall of Fame.[16]


  • Dick Schaap Award for Outstanding Journalism recipient in 2006.
  • In 1996 Ryan won the Curt Gowdy Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame.
  • In 2000 he was the AP National Sportswriter of the Year.
  • He has been named the NSSA’s National Sportswriter of the Year four times (2000, 2007, 2008, 2009).[17]
  • He is also a member of the College Basketball Writers and New England Basketball Halls of Fame.


At 60, Ryan wants his retirement from the job to be graceful: "I’m not bitter. I enjoy my job and I still think I do it well, but they are chipping away, chipping away and they are making it far less pleasurable. I want to get out when I feel like getting out. If you stay around too long, there is no way you can dictate your terms," he said. Ryan also asked, "How do you explain to Stephen A. Smith that he has no idea of the game and how much fun it was? He thinks he knows everything, but he will never know what I know about the Celtics."[2]

On February 14, 2012, during a podcast with Bill Simmons on, Ryan announced that he would retire after the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Said Ryan, "I really and truly believe that my time has come and gone; that the dynamics of the business, of what it takes, what it means to be involved in the sports business with all the Tweeting and the blogging and all the stuff, and an audience with a different taste - it's not me anymore. I'm not comfortable." Ryan indicated that he would stay involved with sports in a part-time capacity after retirement, but is not interested in continuing at the pace he does now. Ryan's last day as a Red Sox reporter was July 16, 2012.[18]

Ryan's final column in The Boston Globe was published August 12, 2012. He will remain columnist emeritus and write on a part-time basis. He also will remain on ESPN's "Around The Horn" and occasionally guest hosts ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" with Michael Wilbon or Tony Kornheiser.

Television and radio work

Globe 10.0

On June 26, 2007 Bob Ryan's show, Globe 10.0, made its premiere on the New England Sports Network. The half hour show, which airs every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, features Ryan interviewing different Boston Globe sports writers on ten issues related to New England sports.[19][20] It was canceled by NESN in December 2008, but continued on the Boston Globe website.

Guest appearances

Ryan regularly is a guest on radio and TV; some of his appearances include:


  • The Bob Ryan Report on Loren and Wally (WROR-FM): Every Thursday morning at 7:50 a.m. he goes on to give his opinion about Boston sports.
  • Ryan contributes to Michael Felger's show. He used to contribute to Dennis and Callahan on WEEI.[21]
  • Roundtable (featuring Ryan) on NPR's On Point to talk about the decline in basketball viewership.
  • Bob is a weekly contributor to the "Marty and Miller" radio program on KXNO in Des Moines, Iowa and is a frequent guest on "Downtown with Rich Kimball" on the stations of Fox Sports Maine.
  • The Tony Kornheiser Show; Ryan has appeared on the first episode of most of Kornheiser's show incarnations. Kornheiser calls Ryan "the quintessential American sportswriter".


In addition Bill Simmons has called him "the best basketball writer ever." Paul Silas joked on Cold Pizza while Ryan was a guest, that all Bob Ryan's success was due to him.[22]

Controversies and mistakes

Joumana Kidd comments

In May 2003, Ryan appeared on Sports Final, a local sports talk show airing on WBZ-TV. At that time, Ryan said that Joumana Kidd, then-wife of then-New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd needed someone to "smack" her for taking her son T.J., then 4 years old, to NBA play-off night games where they could be taunted.[23] He accused Joumana of being an exhibitionist and using the child as a prop to get television time. The show's host, Bob Lobel, asked Ryan to retract his statement immediately:

  • LOBEL: You just don’t want to smack her. You don’t mean to say that.
  • RYAN: Alright.
  • LOBEL: I mean. Do you? Really, do you? Tell me you don’t.
  • RYAN: Why should I say anything different here than I said all last playoffs last year?[24]

The comments struck a chord because in 2001, Joumana Kidd had been the victim of Domestic violence by her husband, Jason Kidd.[25] Ryan returned to Boston to meet with executives at the Globe. Ryan publicly apologized, but the Globe still suspended him and barred him from television for one month. "Four weeks took my breath away. But I’ll abide by it," he later said.[24] Then Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney chastised Ryan for his comments.[26]


2006 Final Four column

Ryan made a mistake in 2006 when he wrote a column promoting the [28] Ryan referred to this incident on ESPN's Around the Horn, when discussing a topic about making mistakes, on April 27, 2010. However, he would not reveal what the incident was, saying that any viewers who wanted to know about his March Madness error could check WorldHeritage and find out for themselves.

Theo Epstein confrontation

Ryan had a run-in with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. In November 2006 he had a small unfriendly exchange with Epstein saying "on behalf of an eager constituency, I hope the rumor (of a J. D. Drew deal) isn't true."[29] Curt Schilling would call into Dennis and Callahan and criticize Ryan,[30] but NBC Sports's Tom Curran sided with Ryan.


  • Wait Till I Make the Show: Baseball in the Minor Leagues (1974)
  • Celtics pride: The rebuilding of Boston's world championship basketball team (1975)
  • The Pro Game: The World of Professional Basketball (1975)
  • Hondo: Celtic Man in Motion (1977) coauthored with John Havlicek
  • Forty Eight Minutes (1987) with Terry Pluto
  • Cousy on the Celtic Mystique (1988) coauthored with Bob Cousy
  • Drive: The Story of My Life (1989) coauthored with Larry Bird
  • Boston Celtics: The History, Legends, and Images of America's Most Celebrated Team (1990)
  • The Four Seasons (1997)
  • The Road to the Super Bowl (1997)
  • A Day of Light and Shadows (2000) Only introduction
  • When Boston Won the World Series: A Chronicle of Boston's Remarkable Victory in the First Modern World Series of 1903 (2004) released before Red Sox victory
  • The Best of Sport: Classic Writing from the Golden Era of Sports (2005)


  1. ^ Dan Shaughnessy, Bill Simmons, and many others
  2. ^ a b c article
  3. ^ Repacement Level Podcast: Featuring Bob Ryan,
  4. ^ a b interview
  5. ^ Megan Woolhouse (2008-01-30). "Reports vary on cause of diplomat's death".  
  6. ^ Mike Underwood (2008-01-30). "Heartbroken columnist doubts report of son’s murder".  
  7. ^ "US diplomat, son of Globe columnist, found dead in Pakistan".  
  8. ^ "Hingham native found dead in Pakistan; Diplomat was son of Globe columnist".  
  9. ^ Bryan Marquard (2008-01-29). "Keith Ryan, at 37; attaché for US Customs in Pakistan".  
  10. ^ Of
  11. ^ Post on, "10 people whose work I enjoy in the Boston Sports Media", Ryan is included on the list, also included fellow sports columnist at the Globe Jackie MacMullan
  12. ^ Ever Green by Dan Shaughnessy, p. 46-7
  13. ^ The Boston Globe June 10, 1976 and February 25, 1993
  14. ^ Give Em' the Hook by Tom Heinsohn, Joe Fitzgerald
  15. ^ A bio of him on a page of one of his books
  16. ^ Column in The Boston Globe, 11/28/06
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ "Red Sox Live Blog: Adrian Gonzalez Powers Red Sox to 5-1 Win Over White Sox - Boston Red Sox". 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2012-10-01. 
  19. ^ "NESN and The Boston Globe name Bob Ryan host of Globe 10.0".  
  20. ^ "Globe 10.0 debut".  
  21. ^ Boston Phoenix Don't Quote Me feature
  22. ^ Cold Pizza, 10/30/06, the day after Red Auerbach's death. Ryan would attend Auerbach's funeral. This is not surprising considering how Ryan was close to many figures in the Celtics organization. He also wrote columns on the matter. Which can be found here [2], here [3] and here [4]
  23. ^ AP story via CBS News, 5/7/03
  24. ^ a b c Greater Boston Archived July 4, 2003 at the Wayback Machine, WGBH
  25. ^ AP story via USA Today, 3/13/01
  26. ^ "Romney takes rips at Ryan," Boston Herald, May 8, 2003
  27. ^ Boston Phoenix This Just In feature
  28. ^ Bob Ryan (2006-04-01). "Full throttle".  
  29. ^ New Hampshire Union Leader article, 11/30/06
  30. ^, 11/30/06

External links

  • Bob Ryan's blog
  • Bob Ryan 2006 Red Sox profiles
  • TGA commencement speech on YouTube
  • Sportspage interview on YouTube
Preceded by
Jack Barry
Boston Globe Celtics beat writer
Succeeded by
Dan Shaughnessy
Preceded by
Dan Shaughnessy
Boston Globe Celtics beat writer
1984–1986 (interim)
Succeeded by
Michael Vega
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