Most times it has gone something like this: “Hey, I read a column by your brother the other day. It was terrific.” Or, “Your brother’s book on Ali and Cosell was fascinating.” Or, “Your brother’s piece on steroids in baseball really made me think.”
Occasionally, the sentence has begun with “Your uncle …” or “Your cousin …” or even “Your dad …”
Truth is Dave Kindred is none of those things to me. For a while, standard procedure was to politely point that out … to explain that while we both grew up in Atlanta, Ill., population 1,682, we are not related. Or if we are, it is down the line enough to require research.
A few years in, the decision was made to stop explaining and just embrace it. If the mailman or coach or guy on the next block wanted to link you with one of the nation’s elite sportswriters/columnists, wise up. Go with it.
So for the past decade-plus, when someone has gushed, “Your brother really knocked that one out of the park,” the head nods, the lips curl upward and the words flow naturally.
“Yeah, he’s the best.”
That part is true.
Dave Kindred is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, winner of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame print media award for lifetime achievement, member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, winner of multiple National Sportswriter of the Year awards, and the 1991 recipient of the Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement in sports journalism.
He also has authored nine books and, now, is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. His induction into the media division came Saturday night during the annual IBCA Hall of Fame Banquet at Illinois State’s Bone Student Center.
You see, before Kindred was on a first-name basis with Muhammad Ali and a regular at Super Bowls, World Series and the Masters, he was a Pantagraph sportswriter covering games at Normal Community or U High or Chatsworth or Beason.
Before that he played baseball at Illinois Wesleyan with Doug Rader. And before that he was a senior guard on Atlanta High School’s 1959 basketball Redwings, who went 29-1 and beat the Logan County seat, Lincoln, in the regional finals.
The guy is Central Illinois to the core, and a few years ago moved back here to nearby Carlock. He still writes for media outlets, including the website “Sports On Earth,” and hasn’t lost a step. His words still flow and entertain and educate and “sing.”
He continues to cast a long shadow and that’s OK. There are worse things than being “the other Kindred” who writes sports.
This one writes sports largely as the result of growing up in Dave Kindred’s hometown, hearing relatives and others talk of his late free throws that beat Lincoln and his command of the written word.
It was at about age 12 when the first Dave Kindred column found its way into our living room. It was love at first sight, a mix of verbs, adjectives, opinion and humor that left a pudgy sixth-grader thinking, “Man that looks like fun.”
It looked easy, too, with its smooth, captivating delivery. Turns out it’s not. Most of us never ascend to that level.
Being a sportswriter named Kindred is like being a basketball player named Jordan. You’ll never be the original. You can only be who you are and hope for the best.
Dave Kindred isn’t my brother or uncle or dad. He’s just an inspiration and a terrific example to follow.