Saturday morning, longtime broadcaster Larry King passed away at the age of 87. He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after reportedly being hospitalized with COVID-19. However, no cause of death was given. "For 63 years, across the many platforms of radio, television and digital media Larry's many thousands of interviews, awards and acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster," Ora Media said in a statement. The company highlighted King's abilities as an interviewer, focusing on his direct and uncomplicated questions regardless of the subject.
Throughout his broadcasting career, King interviews a multitude of high-profile figures, many of which made an impact on professional sports. He talked to Michael Jordan several times, as well as Tiger Woods, Shaun White and many other professional athletes. Some of the interviews focused on more lighthearted topics, such as cologne, while others addressed tragic incidents. Here are seven of King's best interviews with professional athletes.
In 1993, NBA star Michael Jordan sat down with King for the first primetime interview since he announced his retirement. They met up at Jordan's restaurant and discussed a number of topics, including a book full of photos from the Chicago Bulls star's life. Although the most important topic of conversation for NBA fans was Jordan's decision to walk away from a championship-worthy team and what he would do without any sports obligations.
"Well, I wake up and I wonder what I'm going to do that day," Jordan said. "I think a part of retirement is you're able to go out and do it. If that means hanging out with the kids all day, great. If that means taking over your wife's activities for the day, that's not great." Jordan then teased that he was working on "some stuff" but didn't reveal what it was due to being early in the process. The NBA star later took a brief detour and began playing minor league baseball.prevnext
Michael Jordan Return
Jordan sat down with King following his first retirement from the NBA in 1993. He did so again after walking away for the final time. He joined King from a boutique in Beverly Hills in 1999 and discussed his cologne, how first appearances are critical in life and several other topics. Jordan also confirmed that he would not be making another return to the sport of basketball. He would no longer be suiting up for the Bulls or any other team.
"Basketball? Yeah, I miss it," Jordan told King. "I knew it was a correct move. In my gut feeling, it was a great move for me to walk away from the game. ... I'm still a fan of the game, don't get me wrong, and I still play occasionally. Maybe not with the same caliber of players that I played with over the last 15 years, but it's a great exercise when I choose to do that."prevnext
Mike Tyson in Prison
In 1994, boxer Mike Tyson sat down with King for an in-person interview about his experience in prison after being convicted of rape. He talked about how there are days when people would "humiliate" him by holding him on the ground for an extended amount of time and preventing him from getting up. Other days featured the guards searching through his cell for contraband. One interesting moment occurred when King asked Tyson if the guards treated him better due to his level of fame, but the answer was not what the host expected.
"Because I'm 'Mike Tyson: former heavyweight champ of the world' that gives them more reason to despise me," he explained. "You must understand, we're not in New York City — where I roamed — and Los Angeles or Paris — where I roamed and bought everyone champagne. ... I'm just saying, we are in a very lethargic type of atmosphere where they are a great deal of people confused because they have never been around someone like me."prevnext
Mike Tyson Return
On Aug. 19, 1995, Tyson made his return to the boxing ring following a three-year stint in prison. He sat down with King once again ahead of the bout to discuss his career and the upcoming fight, doing so from a boxing ring inside the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. Tyson explained that he was in a much different point of his life and that the pre-prison version didn't think about his actions. He used the example of going into a restaurant and "raising hell" without concern about anyone being able to stop him.
"Prison showed me the true consciousness of human nature," Tyson said. "It's in our nature to be jealous, to be hateful, to be resentful. But it's up to us to be disciplined, to have a disciplined will to overcome those feelings." Tyson also explained that the concept of discipline played a role in how he prepared for his fights and does things that he doesn't want to. He put in the extra work to find success in his "business," which was the sport of boxing.prevnext
In 2013, King met with undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather to discuss several topics. The boxer was making his comeback after serving two months of a three-month prison sentence in a misdemeanor domestic battery case. During this conversation about his career, King asked Mayweather if he felt "any fear" in the boxing ring, citing a previous conversation with Muhammad Ali as the reason for the question.
"No. Never. My approach — a lot of people have heard me say it before — my approach is 'it's gonna be how it's gonna be,'" Mayweather explained. "I feel like your life is already planned out. I don't really worry about being hurt. It comes with the territory." Following the conversation, Mayweather faced off with Robert Guerrero in Las Vegas and secured a win by unanimous decision.prevnext
In 2016, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk sat down with King to look back at his career and his work building skate parks in lower-income communities. The extreme sports athlete explained during the conversation that he was still skating at the age of 48 and that he could do "most" of his tricks on a regular basis. Hawk also explained what initially drew him to the sport and why he stuck with it.
"I liked the sense of identity I got from it and the self-confidence it gave me when I was a youngster, 9-10 years old," Hawk explained. "I liked playing sports, but I didn't feel like I was excelling much in any of them. When I found skating, I found that every time I went there I got better at it. I could do it at my own pace, on my own terms and really in my own style. I loved that it was daredevil, it was action-oriented, and I didn't have to listen to a coach."prevnext
Bret Hart, John Cena, Chris Jericho0comments
In 2007, professional wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife and their 7-year-old son before hanging himself in a murder-suicide. One month after stunning events, King interviewed a number of professional wrestlers about Benoit's life and their relationships with him. John Cena and Chris Jericho joined King in the Los Angeles studio while Bret Hart joined virtually. All of the performers involved explained that they couldn't understand how someone like Benoit could commit such an act.
"Every time I saw Chris — I was around him a lot of times — and he was always a cool guy," Hart said. "He was calm, relaxed, and he was easygoing. ... He was a class guy; he was a great guy." Jericho made similar comments while referring to Benoit as a close friend and confidant. The professional wrestler went a step further and said that Benoit would be the "last person chosen" out of a lineup of 1,000 people if they had to find someone capable of committing the act.prev