By Joe Musso (MSJ15)

At 6-foot-nothing, my hoop dreams died somewhere between Power Rangers and Drivers Ed, but this year, I made my NBA Finals debut. I was 0-0 shooting over four games, but I also never forgot the score.

Nearly three years to the day from walking across the stage with my MSJ, I walked across the baseline at Oracle Arena shoulder to shoulder with some of Medill’s most distinguished alumni. Between a battery of live shots and non-stop digital coverage, I got a chance to share a few minutes with one of my idols.

“Mr. WIlbon, I had to introduce myself. My name is Joe Musso, I’m a proud Chicagoan and a Medill alum.”

I couldn’t risk burying the lede.

What I expected to be a momentary introduction turned into a full conversation ranging from high school rivalries to career paths. I was greeted with the same warmth, the same genuine interest that I’ve felt from every alum I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. It’s a feeling I hope to pay forward. 

But then, it was back to work. Game One’s bizarre ending put us up against West Coast deadlines and thoughts of idols and pinch me moments took a back seat to contextualizing LeBron’s 51 points in a losing effort and the headspace of one J.R. Smith.

History will remember Steph’s record-setting three-point performance in game two and KD’s clutch moments in game three, but I will file away the 2018 Finals in my mental catalog differently.

I will remember the feeling. A sense of belonging amongst the most talented in our discipline. My time at Medill set the foundation that allowed me to execute confidently in these moments. While the stage gets bigger and the lights may seem a tad brighter, our work — our mission — is the same: Craft quality, informative stories with the hopes of entertaining an audience regardless of size.

During my time at Medill I experienced a great deal of support. But seeing that support system in action at one of the biggest sporting events in the world is a completely different experience. I realized that no matter where my journey takes me, there will always be someone in purple not too far down that baseline. There will always be a Mike Wilbon waiting to offer words of encouragement. There will always be an Antoine Lewis eager to catch up.

I am forever indebted to the vast Medill network, and I’m eager to repay those debts in the years to come. Much like the Warriors four-game sweep of the Cavaliers, it’s a forgone conclusion — through hard work and dedication, I will be back under the lights, and I can’t wait to see you there.