Photograph by Rick Wenner/HBO
Bomani Jones has distinguished himself as one of the premier voices in sports media. For more than 20 years, the Emmy Award winner has been giving insightful commentary and cultural analysis in the world of sports.
Coming to prominence in multiple roles on ESPN, he was the co-host of Highly Questionable with Dan Le Batard, and in 2017, launched his own show, High Noon with co-host Pablo Torres. He was also a regular panelist on Around the Horn, and commentator on SportsCenter and Outside the Lines.
At HBO, Jones was the host and executive producer of Game Theory and was a contributor to Back On the Record with Bob Costas.
After hosting The Right Time at ESPN, Jones relaunched the popular podcast on Wave Sports+ Entertainment Network where he is continuing to give his takes on the latest in sports three days a week.
BET.com spoke with Jones about life after ESPN, relaunching his podcast, and thoughts about the ever-changing sports landscape.
BET.com: Recently, the NBA’s In-Season Tournament was a major success. Do you think it would be a new tradition for the league?
Jones: This isn't something that I think they're going to bail on. They're going to really keep trying to make it work. I think all it's going to take to make it work is just to keep saying that it matters. I think people think that the courts look goofy, and I understand that argument. But I admit that when you turn it on and you see that court, you recognize that something is going on here even if you don't find the courts to be attractive.
You recognize that there's a thing that's going on here and if they have some good games it makes it feel more important than games in December would be. As long as everybody keeps acting like it's important, then I do think it will ultimately prove to be a thing that catches on like those soccer tournaments.
BET.com: I must admit that I haven’t watched this much basketball this early in the season in a long time.
Jones: I think that once it was in Vegas we started feeling like the games have some level of consequence and that was the best chance for people to catch on to it. The other thing I think that people should keep in mind for something like this is that the success in the first year isn't the point.
Honestly, the success in the second or third year really isn't even the point. You're going to look up one day, and you're going to have a league with a bunch of players who grew up dreaming about playing in this tournament. If you decide you're going to do something like this, you have to decide this as a long-term play. And if you keep it around long enough, it will become a tradition.
BET.com: After a long run with the company, you parted ways from ESPN in 2023. How has the adjustment been for you?
Jones: It's not nearly as different as I guess it looks on the outside. When ESPN decided to cancel High Noon in 2020, for the next year I was just kind of bouncing around doing television appearances and I was just doing The Right Time. I wasn't just doing a podcast, I was doing the podcast that I'm doing right now. So for me, the difference really just comes from day-to-day stuff like working with new people trying to get the rhythm together. It's a live YouTube show which it wasn't before.
But ESPN had generally given me the space to do the podcast as I wanted to do. They recognized that the best support that you could give me was to leave me alone and let me do my job. That's very similar to the situation that I'm in right now. I guess I understand why people on the outside think that it's been a big change but the changes for me have been gradual for the last three years.
BET.com: How did you connect with Wave Sports+ Entertainment and what makes them of good partner for The Right Time?
Jones: I don't have a grand story for how exactly I got there but it was through my agent. I can say that what made Wave attractive to me is that they've got a good handle on the technology. I've got a good handle on doing the content, at least as far as I believe.
I've always thought that I make good content and they’ll figure out how to get it in the hands of as many people as possible, but I will do this. One major difference between Wave and ESPN and what makes it very attractive is that ESPN is not a digital-first operation. It's still a television company by and large.
Digital is what Wave understands the best. They understand how to get the stuff into people's hands, how to build the channels, how to cut the videos that we're putting on social media, and all of those things. A lot of people view Wave as being a smaller company than ESPN and they would think of a move like this as being a step down of sorts. But the truth is, if you put ESPN and Wave next to each other with the same exact offer, Wave or the podcast would be a better place for me to be
BET.com: Podcast P with Paul George and New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce are popular shows on Wave but you are bringing something entirely new to the platform.
Jones: I'm helping them go into a lane that they don't they're not currently in, because what I do is going to be different than the Kelce brothers or Paul George or any of the other people that they brought along. I am a professional in this space. This is not something that I dabble in, there's something I've been doing for a very, very long time.
That part is different from the rest of the lineup which I guess then becomes the good part of it because I can now allow them to kind of go into a different kind of a reactive space. I'm coming from a position where the draw for me is the knowledge that I have not so much how famous I was from the beginning.
BET.com: On Foxworth Friday you and Dominque Foxworth have great chemistry and is almost like The Right Time 2.0. How did he become such a major contributor to the show?
Jones: Well, it's a few things. I think I met Dominique for the first time probably about 10 years ago. We had the same agent at the time and he kept trying to put us together and telling me how smart he was. Then I met Dominique and we had a lot of mutual friends in the game. So I'd have him on my shows, and I figured out pretty quickly that we were coming from the same direction. Then around either 2020 or 2021, we started doing Foxworth Friday, officially. What happened was that the podcasts had been very successful for ESPN and they wanted to go from two days a week to three days a week, but they didn't want to pay me any extra money. There was no way in the world that I was going to feel like doing an extra day of a podcast all by myself. l needed to make it as easy as possible for me and my life.
So we proposed the idea of doing it with Dominique and he was gracious enough to do it. Every appearance that he’s made has been lights out because we both recognize that being knowledgeable is not enough and showing people how knowledgeable you are isn't enough. You have to make the content as relatable as you possibly can.
BET.com: Lastly, I was a big fan of Game Theory during its run because it put you in a different space. Would you ever consider doing late-night TV again?late-night
Jones: I think I would if such an opportunity would come again. We were trying to do a late-night show at the tail end of the late-night paradigm. For example, I don't know if somebody else is going to heavily invest in a late-night show. You can see what happened to a bunch of late-night shows at the same time Game Theory ended. But if somebody came back around with the right opportunity to do that, and to build it up, and we could get the right team, I think I would be down. I loved it and I really enjoyed doing it. That was the biggest thing for me was that I truly enjoyed doing it.
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