Hugo Givernaud has always been passionate about American sports, especially basketball. He took advantage of his undergraduate year abroad to realise his childhood dream: he interned as a sports journalist and interviewed some of the NBA’s top stars.
During your internship at baskets-infos.com, a major French website dedicated to basketball, you had the opportunity to interview some of the top players in the NBA. How did you get this dream internship?
I was really lucky, I didn’t even ask for it! Some of my Bachelor’s classes at Sciences Po made us realise the importance of social networks. I am really active on Twitter and two days after the start of the season, basket-infos.com realised that I knew a lot about basketball and that I was there, so they sent me a private message on Twitter and that's how my internship started!
Who was the first NBA player you interviewed? Were you impressed? How did it go?
The first player I interviewed was Greivis Vasquez, the Bucks point guard from Venezuela. I was really impressed. After the first game I covered, I hadn’t managed to do an interview because there were so many journalists. I hadn’t prepared anything for him that day but he was on his own with no journalists around so I just went up to him and talked. He was really nice and after that, I realised that it was not that hard to talk with players, who are only human after all, especially with the French players who were always really nice and accommodating with me.
I have been told that during Kobe Bryant’s last press conference, you took the chance to ask him the final question. What was your question? What did he answer?
Kobe's father Joe Bryant played in Mulhouse for six months 25 years ago, so I asked him about the memories he had of that time in France. He answered that he had had a really good time there but that not learning French was one of his rare failures.
What was the highlight of your experience as a sports journalist interviewing NBA players?
Apart from interviewing Kobe Bryant, I also interviewed David Robinson, “The Admiral”, former player of the San Antonio Spurs, Hall of Famer, MVP of the league, two times NBA champion and former member of the Dream Team that won gold in Barcelona. His son was singing the National Anthem in Milwaukee and I saw him alone in the corridors. I didn’t know he would be there before the game so once again, I had to improvise some questions. The interview wasn’t very long but it was really interesting with questions regarding his ex-teammate, Tony Parker.
As a Bucks fan (even in the press zone), my happiest moment was definitely the win against the defending champions: the Golden State Warriors! They started the season 24-0, an all-time record, and lost their first game on a Saturday night in Milwaukee. I have never seen people and players that happy in Milwaukee. I also did an interview in English for the first time in front of the other American journalists with the Bucks’ best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
What are your predictions for the next NBA season?
After Kevin Durant signing to the Warriors, I really think they will win the title after losing in the finals this year. Their opponent will probably be the defending champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.
What did you get out of this internship?
I realised the dream I had when I joined Sciences Po, becoming an NBA journalist. I have gained influence on social networks because the French NBA community is really active, but also speaking and writing skills. I really think the small network I have made may be useful for my career. I also realised that NBA players were just people; they were really friendly, especially the French players who I talked with a lot during my time there.
Apart from interviewing NBA stars, did you do any other exciting things during your year abroad?
I made a lot of friends in the Global Village of Marquette University. My American roommate even visited me this summer. I also traveled a lot to California, Florida, New Orleans, New York City, Boston... and even Mexico for New Year's Eve!
You are now studying for a Master’s in marketing at Sciences Po. What are your plans for the future?
I want to work in basketball. I don't know yet if it will be with a French or an NBA team, a national league or even for a brand like Nike, but I really hope that it will be related to basketball.