Mo Mooncey, Host for NBA & NBA2K, Jordan Brand Ambassador | Hoop Story #084

Mo Mooncey, Host for NBA & NBA2K, Jordan Brand Ambassador | Hoop Story #084

Mo Mooncey has emerged as one of the most influential voices in the world of NBA basketball. Currently, he holds the position of a host for NBA and NBA 2K, and he co-hosts the popular "Hoop Genius" podcast alongside 3x NBA champion BJ Armstrong.

Mo's journey in basketball began in the UK, which offered a unique perspective compared to kids growing up in the United States. However, his love for the game was unwavering, and this passion continues to thrive through his professional career.

Mo is driven by a deep desire to inspire and educate as many individuals as possible. He seeks to show the importance of dedication and hard work, particularly in the highly competitive and demanding field of sports broadcasting. His story is a testament to the Importance of perseverance in the pursuit of one's dreams.

Disclaimer: This is a modified Transcript.

Interview by Olivia Cleary.

When did your interest in basketball start and how did you use that passion to drive you to start a career within the basketball industry?

I've loved basketball my whole life. Most of my family actually lives out in America, and it's just me that lives in London. Whenever my family would come visit me, they would bring me a Red Sox hat or something else baseball related. Then I discovered basketball, and ever since I took my first jump shot I fell in love with it. I was playing NBA games on my friends and experiencing how exciting the likes of Shaq or Michael Jordan were. I managed to get a hoop at my house and I'd be outside 24 hours a day, working on my handles, shooting, just grinding whenever I could. I was trying to dress like Allen Iverson, and my love for hip-hop also tied in with my love for the NBA. Very quickly those Red Sox hats turned into Celtics jerseys. The dream was to make it to the league but I realized later that wasn't going to happen. I won’t bring out the typical excuse of “I injured my knee” that nearly everyone who didn’t make it pro does, I just knew that there’s no way on earth I could guard someone like LeBron James. I thought to myself: basketball is the only thing that I love in the world. How can I stay in this realm without being a player? 

I thought about what I could do and I was lost. Then one summer, my good friend Taf called me and said, “I’m in New York, I’ve just met a company looking for sportswriters and told them about you.” I told him that I didn’t know anything about being a writer. He responded with “Bro, all you do is tweet about the NBA. Why don't you take those tweets and put them into a longer form for an article?” So I started publishing blogs from my bedroom at law school. My first few pieces didn’t get many readers, however I kept pushing, to the point where I was skipping class completely and writing 5+ articles a day. That eventually led to a point where my writing was getting like millions and millions of readers who were reading it each month. 

After noticing the power of social media and a shift in the way people consume media, I started creating YouTube videos and live streams. Through my YouTube channel, I got picked up by Sky Sports who were the official broadcaster for the NBA in the UK, and then I became the host of their shows and I've been doing that for the last 4 years - becoming the face of the show as an in-studio analyst. 

What does your career in broadcasting Look like? Can you give our readers a breakdown of what your day-to-day looks like in your industry?

It varies from day to day, depending on what I'm working on. If it's a day when we're doing a TV show, I spend hours watching film and hand selecting the clips that I want to talk about then I'll go into the studio.

Once at the studio, I prepare for the broadcast, including a visit to the makeup department (something I never thought I’d do). We have pre-production meetings, run through rehearsals, and then we go live on air. The live game coverage can span anywhere from three to four hours,making for a long day finishing in the early hours of the morning due to the time difference between the UK & US.

During the broadcast, I provide analysis. This includes pregame analysis, breaking down the teams, highlighting what to expect, and what viewers should look out for. I really dive into the details because in the UK, it can be challenging to engage people with the NBA if they're not familiar with the game. Therefore, a significant part of my role involves educating the audience about offensive and defensive strategies.

That is a typical day when I'm in the studio. After the broadcast, I drive home, watch the other games that we didn’t cover on TV, and then I record an episode of my daily podcast. The Hoop Genius Podcast is co-hosted by myself and BJ Armstrong, who played for the Bulls. We make sure every episode is released by 7am UK time so that fans can catch-up with the night’s action as soon as they wake up. Following that, I try to get some rest before starting all over again just a few hours later.

When Did you start your podcast “Hoop Genius” and in what ways have you seen it grow?

It started out as I needed a username for YouTube. I remember back in school, I accurately predicted every single game in the first week of the season. A friend said, "Yo, you're a genius at this." So, I took the name, although I was a cocky teenager back then. Now, I don't like calling myself a genius, but the brand stuck, and we go with it. I carry it with more humility now, well aware that I'm not a genius.

Initially, it was just my YouTube username as I aimed to build a brand. Over time, the "Hoop Genius" podcast emerged, and it started as a fun project with some friends. I met a BJ on one of our shows during "The Last Dance" since he was prominently featured in it. After a spirited debate on the show, he expressed interest in working with me, leading to him guesting on my podcast. He enjoyed it so much that he reached out the next day, suggesting we do it regularly. The podcast transformed from a show with my friends to a collaboration between myself and a 3x NBA champion. 

Around two or three seasons ago, we decided to make it a daily show, realizing a gap in the market for UK fans. It gained success, and NBA 2K quickly saw the potential of the show and came on board as sponsors. Now, The Hoop Genius Podcast has taken off, becoming a world-renowned basketball show. Across the online landscape, you'll find the "Hoop Genius'' brand, whether it's on Twitch, YouTube, or the podcast.

What has the game of basketball taught you that you find yourself applying to your mentality and in your day to day life? 

My approach to daily life mirrors how I approached basketball. On the court, the one who works the hardest wins the game. It's all about relentless work ethic. Whether you're a basketball player striving to shoot a thousand shots a day or pursuing something in media or music, if you work like a machine and won't let anyone stand in your way, that's the key. If there's something you can't do, you practice, you tweak, you refine, you work at it. It's about putting in the reps. Life, to me, is like a game. The principles I applied in training as a player are the same principles I apply in my day-to-day life. Teamwork and surrounding yourself with the right people, your inner circle, are essential. An example of the unseen hours: before I ever appeared on TV, I used to watch games on mute in my room, commentating the entire game, even the halftime show, with no audience listening. It's about preparing for a future opportunity. It's about sacrifice too. To be a successful basketball player, you have to give up social and family time. It's the same in the media; you must be willing to sacrifice nearly everything to achieve your goal. Consistency is key. 

You have such an influential voice, what do you want to achieve through your career and platform?

My primary goal is to inspire as many people as possible. I'm just a kid from England who loved basketball, and now I'm living my dream – courtside at the NBA Finals and All-Star Weekend, working with Jordan Brand as a host for events across the world. I want kids to see me, regardless of their background, and realize that anything is possible. I had no industry connections; it's all about hard work. Changing lives through basketball and growing the game is my number one priority because of the positive impact it's had on my life. I've experienced how it shaped my career and instilled values in me. On a professional note, my goal has always been to emulate Ernie Johnson because I believe he has the best job in the world.

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