The Ringer and Kevin O'Connor have agreed to a multiyear extension, The Big Lead has learned. O'Connor, who has been with the site since its first year in 2016, emerged as one of the foremost voices on NBA coverage even as the arena has exploded with competition in recent years. In addition to a full slate of writing and podcasting, O'Connor hosts a weekly video series and breaks news to fill out his portfolio.
After catching Bill Simmons' attention with Boston Celtics and NBA Draft coverage as a college student, O'Connor has raised his profile and ascended near the top of an extremely valued depth chart and is one example of homegrown talent succeeding at The Ringer. Though there was interest from other outlets, the longstanding relationship and the opportunity to build upon it played role in the decision-making process, according to a source.
The contract comes during a busy and successful month for The Ringer, paced by Claire McNear's unrivaled reporting on Mike Richards' rise and fall at Jeopardy!. Her thorough dive into Richards' problematic past was a vital step in his ultimate downfall and is arguably the most impactful work ever published on the site.
At the same time, Mirin Fader's Giannis Antetokounmpo autobiography has been a breakout title, buoyed by the Milwaukee Bucks' NBA title and terrific storytelling. On the audio front, Simmons' company has continued to push the envelope while exploring the best ways to maximize its Spotify power with Green Room broadcasts and recent additions like Ariel Helwani and market-specific offerings focused on New York City and Chicago.
The Ringer has developed and identified a tremendous amount of talent in its five years. Some high-profile departures, plus a protracted and public dispute between its union and management, have made headlines. Having employees who are desirable to other companies can be a bit of a good news-bad news scenario. It's still a better problem to have than irrelevance.
Keeping one of the most familiar names in a familiar role — and such a critically important one — is another win amid a winning streak. O'Connor is a versatile option at a place that values and smartly leans into its versatility. A good fit that will continue, at least for a few more years.