ESPN personality and veteran sports reporter J.A. Adande (BSJ92) is returning to Evanston later this month to serve as Northwestern University’s 2012 Homecoming Grand Marshal. The Medill graduate known for his witty banter on the network’s “Around the Horn” will play a major role in Northwestern’s Reunion Weekend (Oct. 26-28).
“I look back at some of the recent grand marshals, such as Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers, and I think about how there’s no shortage of big-name Northwestern alumni, and yet they still chose me,” Adande joked. “Maybe it’s like a winery, where certain years are a better vintage than others, but at least I’m considered worthy of being put in the bottle.”
It is that sense of humor, combined with his vast sports knowledge, that makes Adande a popular panelist on “Around the Horn,” a daily show that features four journalists debating the day’s biggest sports topics. Adande has appeared on the show more than 800 times.
Adande is currently in his fifth year as an NBA columnist for ESPN.com. He also serves as an NBA analyst on SportsCenter and appears as an occasional guest host on “Pardon the Interruption.”
After graduating from Northwestern, Adande spent five years as a sports journalist at the Chicago Sun-Times and The Washington Post. He then spent 10 years as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, where he covered everything from the NBA and Major League Baseball to the Olympics and the World Cup, before landing in his current position at ESPN.
While in college, Adande served as sports editor at The Daily Northwestern. He credits his time at Northwestern and his education from Medill as helping him get where he is today.
“Getting a chance to cover the Big Ten conference while I was in college had me ready to cover major college sports right out of school,” Adande said. “My Medill professors gave me writing and reporting advice that I still utilize today. And the Medill network is so vast in the journalism world that practically every press box I enter contains a fellow NU alum.”
Adande also had something to say about Northwestern’s 5-0 football team, currently ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. It is the first time the team has been ranked in the poll since the end of the 2008 season. Coach Pat Fitzgerald may tell his players to have a one-game-at-a-time approach to their season, but Adande is already looking ahead at the schedule.
“Journalists are supposed to look ahead, so I’ve already checked out a hunch I had,” Adande said. “If they are 8-0 heading into Homecoming, the football team will have won more games this season than it did in my entire four years at Northwestern.”
Northwestern football went a combined 7-36-1 during Adande’s collegiate career. Nevertheless, he is an unabashed supporter of the school who is thrilled to return to his alma mater.
“I’ll be bringing all of the purple in my wardrobe to Evanston,” Adande said. “Can’t wait to wear it with pride.”