Tim Russert's death reminded me of another passing a few years ago, and as it turns out, it was four years ago yesterday: Ralph Wiley, who also died of a heart attack, also while doing something he loved -- in Wiley's case, watching the NBA Finals.
Wiley was a colleague of mine at Page 2 and, though I didn't know him as well as others, I hope he would have considered me a friend. Beyond his writing talent, which -- both at the time and with the benefit of hindsight -- I felt was pre-eminent in sports media, he had a huge heart, particularly for younger writers. A copy of the "attaboy" email he sent me when the Quickie was launched remains in my wallet, it meant that much to me.
Much like Russert's NBC colleagues were lamenting his lost voice and direction during this most momentous of presidential election campaigns, I feel like sports has been missing Ralph's voice for the last four years, between the scandals and the sensations. I would have loved his take on Vick; I would have loved his take on the Donaghy scandal. I would have loved his take on the past NBA season.
The other day, I went back into his archives to try to see if he had written about noticing anything untoward in the now-infamous Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference finals. I ended up getting lost in it for an hour -- and I could have spent much much longer, his columns were just that good.
I think Ralph would have made an amazing blogger -- while I'm not sure anyone wrote a long-form column better than Ralph, I think he would have loved to complement his longer writing with the blog platform, particularly its give-and-take with the community. While Page 2 gave him a new platform and a new relevance as a giant within online sports media, I think he would have been even bigger as the medium has advanced over the past four years.
He remains dearly missed, and I regret not having this post yesterday on the anniversary of his death, which continues to sadden me.