Jared Greenberg lives in Georgia, so why did he buy two season tickets to Hofstra men’s basketball?
“No pun intended, I have a lot of pride for the program and what they’ve done for me,” the Turner Sports studio host and sideline reporter said.
“I said to my wife [Morgan], if we lived in New York, we would be buying season tickets. So why don’t we still do it even though we can’t go?”
So Greenberg bought the tickets and asked the athletic department to make sure they are donated to worthy local charities of its choice.
“I wanted to give people the opportunity to go to these games who maybe wouldn’t be able to go and get to enjoy some of the experiences I had,” he said. “They gave me good seats, too.”
Greenberg, 36, helped launch MSG Varsity in 2009 and has been at Turner since 2012, which necessitated a move to Atlanta for a guy who grew up in New Jersey and attended college in Nassau County.
He has no regrets, especially since starting with Tuesday night’s Celtics at Heat game he will be a sideline reporter for TNT’s new-look Tuesday night NBA package.
The assignment represents the latest milestone in a career path that began when he was 14, and not a moment too soon.
“When I was a freshman in high school [in Mahwah, N.J.], I was kind of struggling with life, as a lot of 14-year-olds are,” Greenberg said. “I loved sports but was a terrible athlete, had no idea what to do with my life. I was fighting with my parents all the time, was having trouble in school, was not a good student.”
Then a teacher in a TV production class mentioned that there were volunteer jobs available at the nearby Ramapo College radio station, but that only seniors were eligible.
“Finally, a lightbulb went off in my head,” he said. “It was life-changing. I finally had found a purpose. I wasn’t fighting with my parents, did better at school because I had more motivation.”
About that seniors-only thing . . . Greenberg ignored it and started working there anyway.
That job led him to do research into local colleges that might fit his career goals. He was attracted to Hofstra after having seen their football, basketball and lacrosse teams' games on television. (It did not hurt that Hofstra’s basketball team made back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in 2000 and ’01.)
Ian Eagle, whom he had befriended while in high school, endorsed the idea of him going to Hofstra.
Greenberg also had established a relationship with WRHU’s “professional in residence,” Ed Ingles, whom he called “the single greatest human being on the face of the Earth.”
So sure was Greenberg about Hofstra that rather than wait until his freshman year to take the required training program at the station, he asked to be treated like “a football recruit who comes during the spring semester.”
Twice a week after school he drove from Mahwah to Hofstra to complete the program. That summer, he signed up for Ingles’ well-regarded on-campus workshop — and slept on Ingles’ couch for the two weeks.
Greenberg estimates he called 200 games while at Hofstra.
“People talk about the networking aspect of getting work in this business, but if you want to do radio or TV, you actually have to do it,” he said. “You have to get those reps. That’s what you get there.”
The Tuesday night NBA assignment is the latest step in Greenberg’s ascent.
“When this new Tuesday package came about and they were looking for people, I threw my hand up right away,” he said. “It’s a dream for me, and the people I’m working with makes it even better.”
Greenberg will continue on other jobs, such as hosting NBA TV’s coverage on Sunday night of Kobe Bryant’s death. But he said, “It adds much more to my studio work when I get to go out in the field and interact with players, coaches and other members of the media.”
Not bad, considering where he was in his early teens.
“I can say with 100 percent certainty that if I didn’t start doing radio in my freshman year of high school I would not have gotten into Hofstra,” he said. ”I probably wouldn’t have gone to college, and there is no chance I would be a successful human being.
“I was so down on myself. I was having health issues. I had a pretty bad case of asthma. Things were not good. And then I found this and it gave me motivation to do work so I could graduate high school, so I would be eligible to go to college, because I saw Hofstra as this leaping-off point for me to set me up for my career.”