Buff State alum shares life experiences of producing NBA games

Greg Garrett, Reporter

SUNY Buffalo State alumnus Ed Feibischoff returned to his alma mater last Tuesday to share his experiences and his trials as he worked his way to ESPN.

Dozens of students joined Feibischoff in the Bulger Communication Center to listen to the NBA producer explain what television production is all about:

“Producing a sports show is like watching a duck in the pond,” Feibischoff said. “The viewer only sees the graceful duck treading the water. What they don’t see is the feet working non-stop to keep the duck afloat.”

The road to success was a little bumpy for Feibischoff, who didn’t just fall into his current career. He went through many adversities, and he was very candid with students about the challenges he faced and how he excelled from them.

He was diagnosed at 3 years old with Perthes, a rare condition that affects the hip. He walked with his hands until the age of 8. He dealt with childhood surgeries, but it didn’t deter him.

“Doctors said I’d never walk. I didn’t walk until I was eight. But I am so lucky I was crippled. It made me work so hard. When I was finally able to play sports, I worked hard and was the best at it,” Feibischoff said.

Along with heath issues, finding adequate employment was an added challenge. It took him a long time to find a job. He graduated from Buffalo State in 1979 but didn’t find work until 1981.

He logged NFL scores with NBC, who only paid him $27 his first day, but Feibischoff said it was never about the money.

“I didn’t care that I was making very little. I was just happy to be in the building,” he said while explaining his extensive search for a job. “I tried everywhere. My hometown of New York, I even tried Connecticut and New Jersey.”

He said ABC, CBS and NBC were the only major news stations when he graduated, which added to his depiction of the business, which he described as very cut-throat.

“In television everyone is against you. Everyone wants your job and wants to see you fail,” Feibischoff said.

He gave the students some insight on how to overcome such a volatile environment. He gave exclusive advice on how to exceed past people who may be smarter. His secret is simple: just outwork everyone.

“You have the control to outwork someone,” he said. “I out worked everyone. Preparation was everything to me. And I prepared like no other. I constantly had stats and footage handy just incase I needed it, and often I didn’t, but if a time came and I did need it, I’d have it.”

Junior communication major Marcus Darby said that hearing Feibischoff’s advice on hard work really spoke to him.

“It gave me perspective on how hard you have to work in order to get to his level of his success. He just outworked everyone,” Darby said.

That determined mindset was partly responsible for Feibischoff getting his first big break. While in the NBC studio, he spotted some cards that the announcers read from. Feibischoff said that he wrote random sport facts and milestones on the cards that he knew just from memory.

The commentator that day was one Bryant Gumbel, most known for his 15-year stint as co-host for NBC’s Today. He read Feibischoff stats on live television. After the game Gumbel spoke with him, asked him to continue to write stats, and sit with him on game day every week there after.

“This story stuck out for me the most,” said Kelly Khatib, a senior journalism major. “He did that not for recognition, but for the love of the game, and that got him noticed.”

Feibischoff capped of the evening presenting one of his seven Emmy awards to the class. He allowed students to take pictures with the award that he won in 2002 for outstanding live sports series producing “The NBA on NBC.”

Student were thrilled as they waited in line to take solo pictures with the Emmy award.

“Seeing his Emmy motivated me. It was tangible evidence that dreams come true if you work hard and focus. The success is within reach. You just have to grab it,” Khatib said, who took a photo with the Emmy award and captioned it “True love.”

“I thought that was the closest I’ll ever get to an Emmy,” said Osman Shire, senior journalism major. “But then when he told me that he was a regular student like us, I was extremely motivated.”

Feibischoff expressed that everything isn’t always great. This industry requires a lot of sacrifice. He said he has worked the NBA Christmas game every year since 1991. He stated he’s never been home for Mother’s or Father’s Day.

But, he feels like he is in the homes of all viewers on these holidays, and he is thankful of all who invites him in.

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