“I’m coming home.”
Those were the words Lee Jenkins helped LeBron James pen in his famous Sports Illustrated cover story announcing the King’s return to Cleveland and the same phrase now fits for Jenkins.
On Monday, the Los Angeles Clippers named the San Diego native the team’s Executive Director of Research and Identity. In the role, Jenkins will use his extensive reporting background and unique interviewing style to contribute to the franchise’s amateur and professional scouting infrastructure, as well as help to enhance the Clipper experience.
“Lee has spent his career profiling elite athletes, including most of the top players in the NBA,” said president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank. “Given Lee’s talent, knowledge, and credibility, we hope to blend his approach with our existing evaluation systems and highlight the personalities of our players. He is the NBA’s preeminent storyteller and adding him to the team is a reflection of Steve’s commitment to innovation and building a best-in-class organization.”
At SI, Jenkins has written more than 70 cover stories for Sports Illustrated. In 2017, he was named the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s Journalist of the Year and won the Deadline Club’s award for prestige in sports writing. Jenkins is featured in this year’s edition of The Best American Sports Writing. Before joining SI in 2007, he spent four years at the New York Times, and before that the Orange County Register.
“Throughout my career, I have consistently written stories about teams that win, and when you trace their course back to the beginning, the end seems almost inevitable,” said Jenkins. “The Clippers are in L.A. with Steve, Lawrence, Doc Rivers and Jerry West. They have a plan to create the ultimate environment for their players. As a writer, I ask questions from a variety of angles and assemble information in different ways, until a portrait of a person emerges. I am eager to bring that same process to the Clippers organization and add to their incredible team of evaluators and analysts. This team has the tools to build one of the great sports stories, and I’m excited to contribute.”
“Sports Illustrated called on my 30th birthday, the greatest gift of my professional life,” Jenkins said in a post on SI.com. “I was one of those kids who grew up running to the mailbox on Thursday afternoons. SI taught me to read, and then, to write. With dream jobs, reality often disappoints, but everything about SI only exceeded my imagination. I’ve worked alongside my idols, Tim Layden, Tom Verducci and S.L. Price, and with my friends, Michael Rosenberg, Chris Ballard and Greg Bishop. There is no honor in this business like sharing a page with them.
“SI remains the ultimate platform for sportswriting and I would not leave for another media outlet. But I was offered an extraordinary opportunity to work in the front office of an NBA team and see the league I cover from a different angle. I’ve been privileged to tell a lot of triumphant basketball stories over the past decade. With Steve Ballmer and Jerry West, Lawrence Frank and Michael Winger, Doc Rivers and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, I’m going to try to help build one.”
In addition to the “I’m Coming Home” piece, several of Jenkins’ other notable features include those on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams among others
A native of San Diego, CA, Jenkins is a graduate of Vanderbilt University.