Ahmad Rashad was one of the biggest sports media stars of the 1990s, notably for his role as NBC’s NBA sideline reporter and his relationship with Michael Jordan, among many other A-list celebrity friends.
But he said on Thursday that even if he is not as much in the spotlight as he once was, he never went away and at age 71 remains busy and engaged.
He long has worked as an NBA ambassador, including for NBA Cares, and has filled a variety of other basketball-related roles, such as hosting the Basketball Hall of Fame inductions, the NBA tech summit and various All-Star events.
"I’m still involved in league stuff," he said in a phone interview. "It’s not like I was done and came back."
Now he has a new role, one that flowed from conversations with Knicks executives who invited him to help with the organization’s digital content.
It will begin Sunday with a Mother’s Day feature in which he interviews the mothers of Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin.
He said another upcoming project will focus on what it was like to experience a big game by Kobe Bryant at Madison Square Garden from those who lived it firsthand.
In addition to providing content on the Knicks digital channels, Rashad will host events – virtually and in person when possible – for fans, including community events and ones for season ticketholders.
"I thought everything fit, the Knicks thought everything fit, so we went after it," he said of the relationship.
Regarding the digital component, Rashad said, "There’s a fantastic opportunity to bring so many more stories to life for fans of the NBA in general, and I am a big fan of storytelling. I think that’s how you get to fans’ core."
Even though Rashad grew up in the Pacific Northwest, he said he is a lifelong Knicks fan, having fallen in love with the teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s, especially Walt Frazier.
He later was a Knicks season ticketholder during his three decades living in New York until he moved to Florida about 10 years ago.
"I’m thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to connect the past to the present, having been part of all of it," he said. "There’s just a lot of things going on, and when you think about it from a fan standpoint, man, the Knicks are like the Knicks of old. It’s so exciting now.
"It’s too bad they can’t get that place full of fans. But even the ones they have in there, they realize this is New York basketball."
Rashad compared Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau with Bud Grant, his head coach when he was a Vikings wide receiver from 1976 to 1982, a comparison he said he shared with Thibodeau.
"He gets the best out of each player," Rashad said. "It’s how he manages the team, how he manages the players . . . Every great player, you need somebody that’s going to pull that out of you."
Rashad said the Knicks gig comes at an opportune time, with COVID-19 restrictions beginning to ease.
"Sitting in the house for a year not doing anything, it’s boring," he said. "You can only play so much golf."