A Morehouse Journalism Student’s TNT Opportunity Could Create an HBCU to NBA Pipeline

Photo by Andy Harris

By Justin Darden and Christian Wills

The opportunity of a lifetime for one Morehouse College student may have opened the gateway for more HBCU students looking for sports industry experience.  


Miles Johnson, a Morehouse senior, is a communication major with a minor in journalism from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Johnson serves as the current Managing Editor of print for the Maroon Tiger, Morehouse’s campus newspaper. Johnson sat down with The Maroon Tiger to discuss his shadowing experience at TNT Network.  


Johnson’s plans to travel to Washington DC on January 16 and report on the Morehouse v. Howard basketball plans changed with one phone call. On the other line was Charles Ward, a professor in the journalism department and longtime play-by-play broadcaster. Ward connected Johnson with Keion Grissom, a Morehouse alum and producer at TNT.


Grissom turned his idea into reality, sending Johnson to shadow Chris Haynes at the Atlanta Hawks versus Miami Heat game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Haynes was a former yahoo-sports reporter and sideline reporter for both TNT and Turner Sports. Haynes now serves as a senior NBA insider for TNT and Bleacher Report. 


“What, Chris Haynes!!” Johnson recalls shouting into his phone. “I was ecstatic.” 


Johnson got a front-row seat to Haynes and his duties as a sideline reporter, observing the respect Haynes received from around the NBA from players to coaches and general managers, like Hawks GM Kyler Korver whom Haynes introduced to Johnson. A big lesson Haynes taught Johnson throughout their day together was having the ability to make those relationships and network.   


“The relationships that you build are going to matter more than the work you put in,” Johnson said.  


Johnson was able to tour the TNT studio set and meet various big names in the sports industry such as NBA on TNT host Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley. To see the work behind the scenes and what it takes to produce the final product that millions of people watch during the NBA season was amazing, Johnson said. 


By the third quarter, Johnson says his heart was racing as he began producing a question for Atlanta Hawks head coach, Nate McMillan. When the opportunity came, and it was time to do the live interview for TNT, Johnson recalled his feelings ahead of appearing on camera. 


“I knew if I prepared that I would do well,” Johnson said, “Once I got in front of the mic like all those nerves went away because I prepared for it.” 


Johnson says it was good to see how Haynes worked at big games and talked about his appreciation for Ward for connecting him to this breathtaking excellent opportunity.  


Johnson explained how this experience will impact HBCU students pursuing careers in journalism moving forward. He believes there could be a new wave of young black journalists wanting to pursue a journalism career striving towards big sports companies and networks. His advice for young journalists? Appreciate the opportunities you gain and stay humble in pursuit of your career goals, Johnson offers. 


Johnson receives further inspiration from seeing Ashton Edmunds, a fellow Clark Atlanta University alum, work as a features reporter for the Atlanta Falcons. Johnson watched Edmunds’s interview with Chris Paul on live stream during his sophomore year of college and knew at that moment he would strive to do something similar.  


What is next in line for Johnson, his career, and his aspirations? 


After graduating from Morehouse, Johnson wants to create his brand. He has his own podcast “Real Talk with MJ,” which you can find on YouTube and Instagram. Johnson’s goal for his podcast is to partner with a big sports network and create a team to help him build his platform to expand, creating his television show.