Mark Heisler, who avoids writing about himself in the third person when possible, preferring the royal “we,” is a regular Truthdig contributor and a former NBA-at-large reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the Tribune newspaper chain.
The 2006 winner of the Naismith Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy Award, Heisler has spent almost 30 years covering the NBA, the first seven in Philadelphia with the Inquirer and the Bulletin and later more than 20 with the L.A. Times. In 2010, the Los Angeles Press Club honored Heisler’s original Truthdig columns by granting him the Best Online Column award
for his Truthdig essay “It’s Not About Tiger Woods, It’s About Us.” In 2011, Heisler was awarded the Southern California Journalism Award for Online Sports News, Feature, and Commentary for his Truthdig article“Role Models for the Id.”
A native of Springfield, Ill., he graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism. In 1969 at age 25, he was lucky enough to get a job in Philadelphia, a hotbed in the sports writing revolution sometimes called the “Chipmunk Movement” for a comment made by the great Jimmy Cannon at the sight of young writers chatting excitedly about what they had just written.
For their part, the chipmunks spurned homerism, prized irreverence, widened coverage to include social causes, and, as Philadelphia 76er GM Pat Williams told GQ’s Alan Richman, “scared everyone to death.”
Several revolutions later, Heisler is fascinated by the vast changes across communications that make almost everything accessible almost everywhere. On the downside, with the competition for market share making immediacy and sensation all-important, the press has become a giant tabloid, obsessing upon and warping stories, as opposed to putting them in perspective. If change is inevitable and his generation had it coming—Heisler calls it “payback for Elvis”—the scary part is this isn’t just something that happening in sports.
Heisler has spent three years as a baseball writer covering the Angels and the Dodgers, and five on the L.A. Raider beat in his Hunter Thompson Experience, with owner Al Davis petitioning his bosses to get him taken off it for the last four of those years. He has also written books about the Lakers and Pat Riley and co-authored a book about Bobby Knight with Steve Delsohn.
He lives in Northridge, Calif., with his wife, the long-suffering Loretta Summers Heisler, and their daughter, Emily.