I’ve been with NBC San Diego covering sports for 14 years. Through that time there’s one question I’ve been asked more than any other.
That question is not, “Will the Chargers really move?” It’s not, “Are the Padres ever going to be any good?”
I get those a ton, sure. But more than anything else the wonderful people of San Diego want to know this:
“Do you know Laz?”
I’m happy to say yes, I do. The follow-up question is almost inevitably:
“Is he really as nice as he seems on TV?”
I’m even happier to say yes, he is.
With Jim Laslavic what you see is what you get. When he’s happy, you know it. When he’s ticked off, you know it (especially when NFL owners are involved). Laz is what we all like to think we are but very few actually accomplish; he’s authentic.
And now his amazing career on San Diego’s airwaves, a career that has spanned four decades, is coming to an end. Laz will do his final show tonight at 11:35 p.m. when he anchors SportsWrap. This is not just the end of an era. This is the last of an archetype, the end of the reign of the King of San Diego sports.
People see all the charitable work he does for the community he adores, from the golf tournaments benefitting the Coronado community to helping cancer research to the Junior Seau Foundation. He’s one of the most approachable celebrities you’ll ever meet.
I produced for Laz full-time from 2005-2010 and have done so sporadically since. Together we launched Football Night in San Diego and the latest iteration of SportsWrap …
So now let me tell you a few things you don’t know about Jim Laslavic.
He’s incredibly competitive, and I mean that in a good way. Sure, you’d think a former linebacker would be and if you’ve seen him on the golf course it comes out. But he’s used that desire to be great to actually become great at what he does. Jim Laslavic reached a level of success that will probably never be seen again in a local news market. Instead of thinking he arrived he kept right on working.
He’s a perfectionist. He didn’t simply walk on set and read what was presented for him like so many sports anchors do. Every script had to be “Lazed Up” so he was presenting the story with his voice. The voice that his viewers had come to expect from him. The voice of his honest beliefs.
He’s loved and respected by his peers. People don’t see the little things Laz does at work. They don’t see all the times he’d take his producers to dinner or buy pizza for the newsroom that was working hard to make the show his face was on look good. They don’t see the long talks with interns where he shares advice and offers encouragement to get their careers off the ground. Laz appreciates people and people appreciate him for it.
He’s extremely loyal. If you do well by Laz, he’ll make sure he does well by you. He went to bat for me on multiple occasions, sticking his neck out when he didn’t need to.
I can honestly say that watching Jim Laslavic go about his business behind the scenes made me better at my job. I can also honestly say that knowing Jim Laslavic as a friend made me better as a person.
A few folks have asked what we’re going to do with our Sunday night shows after Laz retires. Honestly, I have no idea. It’s like trying to play Indiana Jones after Harrison Ford. You simply cannot replace Jim Laslavic. You just have to follow Jim Laslavic.
And it’s one hell of a tough act to follow.
Laz, congratulations in retirement. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for letting me share a part of your incredible career.