When I was covering the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, I spent the first 5 minutes of every halftime in the smoking area outside the back entrance to Wukesong Arena.
That was when the Redeem Team was on its way to winning the gold medal, and one day during pool play Team USA was beating the bejeezus out of Spain.
Joing me for a halftime cigarette that evening was NBA executive Brian McIntyre, who was pulling double duty as the p.r. man for Team USA.
We were the only Americans in a vast crowd of media smokers.
“The only place Spain is beating us tonight is at the ashtray,” McIntyre quipped.
I asked if I could quote him, and he agreed. Still ranks as one of the best quotes ever published on ESPN.com.
McIntyre is the best p.r. guy in the history of p.r. guys, and his colleagues lauded him last night the the NBA media relations meetings in Chicago as he was named the winner of the 2012 Splaver/McHugh “Tribute to Excellence” Award.
A senior communications advisor to commissioner David Stern, McIntyre assumed his current position in August 2010 after a three-decade career in the league’s public relations and communications departments. The award is given annually by the NBA Public Relations Directors’ Association to a current or former member of the NBA public relations family who has demonstrated an outstanding level of performance and service during his or her NBA career.
McIntyre began his NBA headquarters career in November 1981 as Director of Public Relations, and was named Vice President in 1989. Over nearly 30 years – 1982-2010 – McIntyre oversaw P.R. activities for every major NBA event, including The Finals, NBA All-Star, the NBA Draft, the NBA Draft Lottery, and the McDonald’s Championship.
Under his stewardship, the NBA’s Public Relations Department expanded to become the Communications Group, and in November 1997 he was named Senior Vice President. During his tenure, McIntyre helped launch both the WNBA and the NBA Development League. He also was instrumental in the development and implementation of many of the communications policies and procedures currently in place for all three leagues. The numerous NBA awards McIntyre created include the Defensive Player of the Year award, the Sixth Man Award, and the Most Improved Player. He was responsible for initiating White House visits by NBA championship teams, creating a media training program for players, instituting the use of satellite postgame feeds at major NBA events, and a host of other initiatives.
McIntyre’s influence also has extended in to the international realm of the sport. In conjunction with USA Basketball, McIntyre was actively involved in public relations planning, activities, and onsite execution of the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 Olympics and the 1994, 2002, and 2006 World Championship of Basketball. McIntyre also has served as a member of the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) News Council and on the USA Basketball Media Advisory Committee.
The Professional Basketball Writers Association honored McIntyre in 2010 when the organization named its annual media relations tribute “The Brian McIntyre Media Relations Award.” And in 2011, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame honored McIntyre with the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, the most prestigious award the organization presents outside of enshrinement.
A graduate of Loyola University of Chicago and a former cab driver (the one other thing besides a taste for tobacco that McIntyre and Sheridan have in common), McIntyre began his professional career with the Chicago Bulls, where he served as Director of Marketing and Media Information for three and a half years before joining the league office.
The Splaver/McHugh award is named in memory of two of the most highly respected public relations executives in NBA history, Marc Splaver and Howie McHugh.
Splaver, who passed away from leukemia in May 1978, was the Public Relations Director of the Washington Bullets for five seasons in the 1970′s.
McHugh served for more than 40 years as the original Public Relations Director of the Boston Celtics.
Previous winners of the Splaver/McHugh award are:
2010 Matt Dobek, former Detroit Pistons Public Relations Director and Vice President between 1981 and 2010.
2009 Tommy Sheppard, Washington Wizards Vice President of Basketball Administration.
2008 Terry Lyons, former NBA Vice President of International Communications and current Sports Marketing and Communications Consultant.
2007 Dave Coskey, former Philadelphia 76ers Executive Vice President and Vice President of Marketing and Communications and current President of Longport Media
2006 Rick Welts, Golden State Warriors President and Chief of Operations, and former Seattle SuperSonics Public Relations Director and Phoenix Suns President and Chief Executive Officer.
2005 Jeff Twiss, Boston Celtics Vice President, Media Services/Alumni Relations.
2004 Kevin Sullivan, former Dallas Mavericks Public Relations Director, NBC Sports executive, White House Communications Director, and founder of Kevin Sullivan Communications.
2003 Mark Pray, former Public Relations Director for the Washington Bullets and Assistant Athletic Director for Communications at the University of Miami.
2002 Matt Winick, former NBA Director of Media Information and current NBA Senior Vice President of Scheduling and Game Operations.
2001 Josh Rosenfeld, former Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks Public Relations Director and current Newark Star-Ledger reporter.
2000 Dennis D’Agostino, current Knicks’ Team Historian and Writer.
1998 John White, longtime Portland Trail Blazers Publicity Director.
1997 Harvey Pollock, Hall of Fame publicist.
1996 Tom Ambrose, founder and first President of the NBA Public Relations Directors Association and former Phoenix Suns Community Liason.
1995 Jim Foley, formerly with the Houston Rockets for 36 seasons as PR Director and then Rockets radio analyst.