The blaring hum of the bell echoed throughout the festival as Kareem Maddox and teammates reached victory after winning the final round at the 3×3 tournament at the Los Angeles Street Festival.
After the first announcement of the event that was introduced as a global basketball competition, Maddox joined the Princeton team as they rallied through the growing competition. Flashforward to 2019 as the national event is announced to debut as an Olympic discipline in 2020, Maddox’s long dream of becoming an Olympic athlete sparks stronger than ever.
Before the tours and trips across the world for basketball tournaments, Maddox grew up with an appreciation for journalism in Southern California where he attended award-winning Oaks Park High school along with workshops held at the Los Angeles Times on weekends during his youth. Though it wasn’t always the perfect balance between his love for basketball and journalism, Maddox explained his process of choosing a path before the end of high school.
“I was all over the place in high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I just did school plays, I did Student Government. I did, you know, newspaper, I obviously played basketball. I also ran track. So I think especially at that age, like, you know, I’m almost 30 I’m 29 years old, and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. (…) —if there’s something you really love then you gotta pursue that; follow your heart but outside of that, you know, keep looking, the world is big, and there’s a lot of stuff going on so take all the time.”
It never occurred to Maddox that he would have the chance again to run a podcast while at Princeton University where he won Ivy League Championships his senior year. It was this period where his journalist career went on hiatus until after graduating in 2013.
Growing up, Maddox admitted facing the same pessimistic conversation of journalism being a dying brand. It wasn’t till after returning to California where he switched his career to focus on a new love. Radio Journalism.
“I’ve been hearing that same thing. since I was in high school when I was going to journalism camp and working in LA Times, you know, newspapers are dying, then that was over 10 years ago. Things will change, you know, the form will change.” Maddox said.
During his retirement is where he explored the flexibility of radio journalism, volunteering at KCRW and becoming the host and interviewer for NPR in Santa Monica. In this time Maddox knew of the seemingly impossible idea to balance a basketball career at the same time.
Juggling a basketball career in the midst of taking off in radio journalism set the drive for playing professionally to the shelves.
“[I] didn’t touch the ball for a long time after I retired in 2013. But, you know, I realized I could play again around 2016. And I realized I still had a love for it.” Maddox expressed.
The journalist received an invitation that seemed to bring new opportunities to the court with a Pro-Contract with Poland for three years. Maddox began splitting his love again between the two activities as 3×3 began taking a sail in popularity within the United States and he was hired to produce and manage his own podcast. After a long shuffle between the two careers Maddox is fortunate to have found the perfect balance in his two loves; journalism and basketball.
“This [was] the perfect opportunity to you know, try to be an Olympian, which is something I’ve always wanted to be and to still have another career. And you know, radio, podcasting, whatever you want to call it. So, you know, just the perfect two careers. Graduated to run two careers.”