Jenni Carlson
Sports Reporter and Columnist

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football games. Her mom kept the scorebook during baseball games and yelled her head off no matter the sport. They passed along that passion to Carlson and her two younger brothers.

Carlson played golf in high school and planned to play in college, but when she started at the University of Kansas, she decided to focus her attention on journalism. It’s a decision that she’s never regretted.

Her first big story was a profile on Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams for the yearbook, and Carlson has enjoyed interviewing sports figures and sharing their stories every since.
Carlson is a 1997 graduate of Kansas. She and her husband, Ryan, were married in 2009 and live in Oklahoma City. They welcomed their first child, Millie, in June 2012. Carlson was the president of the Association for Women in Sports Media from 2008-10 and chair of the board from 2010-12.

  • What they're saying about Thunder-Spurs Game 1

    By Erik Horne and Jenni Carlson Staff Writers | Published: Sat, Apr 30, 2016

    ESPN NBA analyst P.J. Carlesimo: “A lot of times when we get ready to do a series we write down the rosters and say ‘OK, we're gonna talk about this guy.' When you get ready to do this series, you've gotta write 15 names and you've gotta write something on every one because there's a chance a lot of these guys — these 10-15 guys — are gonna be in an maybe have an impact on a game or two.” Turner Sports TV analyst Chris Webber: “This is some of the worst pick-and-roll defense I've seen. Period. Regular season. Preseason. Playoffs. Every play on the pick-and-roll, San Antonio's getting exactly what they want.” Inside the NBA's Kenny Smith at halftime on San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge: “I thought he had an

  • How David West improved as an NBA player and a person

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Published: Fri, Apr 29, 2016

    Most of us would jump at a seven-figure annual salary, but leaving nearly eight figures on the table? Who does that in pro sports? David West.

  • Thunder: Where does Billy Donovan rank among rookie NBA coaches?

    Jenni Carlson | Updated: Thu, Apr 28, 2016

    Every NBA coach starts out as a rookie NBA coach. The legends. The good ones. The also-rans. Each and every one of them had a first season in the league. So, who had the best ones?  I wrote about Thunder coach Billy Donovan's first season for Thursday's Oklahoman. You can read that column here: Lots of stats and numbers in there, but one that I couldn't manage to fit in was a breakdown of the winning percentages of rookie NBA coaches. Not just college-to-NBA rookie coaches, but all rookie coaches. Turns out, Donovan ranks just outside the top 10 in terms of winning percentage, but remember, this list includes all coaches in their rookie

  • Thunder: How does Billy Donovan compare to other college-to-NBA head coaches?

    Jenni Carlson | Updated: Thu, Apr 28, 2016

    Billy Donovan has been praised and criticized and everything in between this season. The NBA is tough like that. I wrote about the Thunder rookie coach's first season in the Thursday Oklahoman. You can read that column here: But by most accounts, Donovan has had a positive and profound effect on the Thunder. Another way to look at Donovan is historically, so here's a list that I resurrected from our coverage after the Thunder first hired Donovan. Our man Berry Tramel put it together, and it looks at all the coaches who were hired from the college ranks to become NBA head coaches and took over teams with pretty solid talent.

  • Power Lunch: Chat with columnist Jenni Carlson

    From Staff Reports | Updated: Thu, Apr 28, 2016

    Get inside the mind of columnist Jenni Carlson about everything OU, OSU and the Thunder in the Power Lunch live chat at 11 a.m.

  • Billy Donovan receives high praise, but the spotlight on the rookie coach is about to get brighter

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Updated: Wed, Apr 27, 2016

    Yes, Donovan matched up against one of the most underrated coaches in the league in the first round, but Rick Carlisle — and pretty much every other NBA coach — pales in comparison to Gregg Popovich.


    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Published: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    0: Leads for Dallas in Oklahoma City's four wins in this series. .526: Shooting percentage for Mavs in the first quarter — and they still trailed the Thunder by 11 points 6: Assists that Russell Westbrook fell short of becoming the first player in NBA history to have three consecutive playoff games of at least 25 points and 15 assists. He finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. 8: Turnovers for the Thunder, second-lowest single-game total of the season. 9: Times in their careers that Kevin Durant and Westbrook have both scored at least 30 points in a playoff game, second only to Elgin Baylor and Jerry West who had 24 such games as Lakers. Monday night, Westbrook had 36 and Durant had 33. 12.

  • Thunder-Spurs: Now comes the challenge

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Published: Mon, Apr 25, 2016

    Russell Westbrook got an early jump on the second round. Ditto for Serge Ibaka. With a few ticks still on the clock Monday night, they exited the floor. Headed toward the tunnel. Walked toward the locker room. Wanted no part of postgame handshakes after the way this series turned contentious. Sportsmanship might suggest they stick around after a 118-104 victory that sent the Mavericks home and the Thunder on to the second round. But Westbrook, Ibaka and the Thunder have their sights set on the Western Conference semifinals. Probably best that they do. The level of difficulty is about to go through the roof. Mighty San Antonio is next on the docket starting Saturday.  The Spurs would've been the

  • Why the Thunder should be concerned with Kevin Durant's turnovers, not his missed shots

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Published: Tue, Apr 19, 2016

    Durant had seven turnovers in Game 2. That's far too many for any player, but for a non-point guard and one of the best players in the world, that number is frankly unacceptable.

  • OKC's on-again, off-again Thunder is off, again

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Updated: Mon, Apr 18, 2016

    A Thunder shot clanged off the rim as many did Monday, and Steven Adams went to retrieve it. He snagged the ball and landed with it in hand, but he was immediately surrounded by Maverick blue. He had to hang on. He had vice grip the ball until he could finally pass it to safety. But this much is sure — Dallas wanted it badly. And not just on that play. On a night the Thunder had a chance to back up its series-opening rout with another command performance, put a stranglehold on this playoff series and serve about how this series was going to go, the Mavs were instead the ones who sent the message. The Mavericks were playing another man down and with a hobbled point guard, and yet, they were the aggressors. The


    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Published: Mon, Apr 18, 2016

    1: Three-pointer made by the Mavericks in the last three quarters. They had four in the first quarter. 10: First-quarter field goals for Dallas, which had 11 in the first half in Game 1. 10: Lead changes, only two days after the Thunder led wire in wire in a game that had no lead changes. 19: Point swing in first-quarter scoring from Game 1 to Game 2. The Thunder led 26-11 after the first on Saturday, but the Mavs led 24-20 after the first Monday. 21.2: Shooting percentage for Kevin Durant, a career low in a playoff game. His previous postseason low was 21.7 percent in the Lakers' first-round series-clincher in 2010. 21.9: Shooting percentage from behind the arc for the Thunder. In Game 1, the Mavs shot 22.2

  • Power Lunch: Chat with columnist Jenni Carlson

    From Staff Reports | Updated: Mon, Apr 18, 2016

    Join Jenni Carlson to talk OU, OSU and the Thunder in today's 11 a.m. live chat.

  • A by-the-numbers look at OKC's Game 1 rout

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Updated: Sun, Apr 17, 2016

    A by-the-numbers look at Oklahoma City's 108-70 victory over Dallas in Game 1 of a Western Conference first-round series at Chesapeake Energy Arena: 5 Straight wins for Oklahoma City vs. Dallas this season after Saturday's 108-70 victory. 5 Straight wins for Oklahoma City vs. Dallas this season after Saturday's 108-70 victory. 5 Straight wins for Oklahoma City vs. Dallas in postseason play, dating back to the Thunder's sweep in 2012. 5 First-half field goals for Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki. 5 First-half field goals for the rest of the Mavericks. 11 First-quarter points allowed by the Thunder, the fewest points allowed in a quarter of a playoff game since the franchise moved to

  • OKC matches Golden State's Game 1 romp

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Updated: Sun, Apr 17, 2016

    Russell Westbrook raised his arms in the air, waved his hands and urged The Peake roar even more. Kevin Durant closed his eyes, threw back his head and roared, too. The exclamations were many Saturday for the Thunder, and they might've just reverberated all around the basketball world. Thunder 108, Mavs 70. On a day Golden State walloped Houston in its playoff opener, OKC did some clobbering of its own. We suspected this first-round series against the Mavs might be one-sided — the Thunder now has won five straight this season against the Mavs — but this Game 1 shellacking had folks grabbing for the record books. It was a historically bad night for Dallas. Historically good for OKC.

  • Kevin Durant and the logic of a title-or-bust decision

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Updated: Fri, Apr 15, 2016

    Much of the Kevin-Durant-pending-free-agency talk, what relatively little of it there has been, has been ignorable. Stephen A. Smith? Joel Meyers? Chris Broussard? Nothing against those folks, but none is close to the Thunder superstar. They aren't friends. They aren't insiders. Anything that they've said about Durant's future plans can be taken with a generous dose of skepticism. But what about Kendrick Perkins? Good ol' Perk became tight with Durant during his time in Oklahoma City and remained tight after moving to New Orleans. They talk regularly. They text often. So a couple weeks ago when Perk and his Pelicans teammates were in Boston, reporters asked him about his buddy.

  • Now is Kevin Durant's chance to remind us just how good he is

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Published: Thu, Apr 14, 2016

    Starting Saturday night against Dallas, he can make us appreciate his greatness. Continuing as long as the Thunder remains in the playoffs, he can show us that he is better than ever.

  • Thunder Buddies Podcast: NBA Playoff preview

    Anthony Slater,Jenni Carlson,Erik Horne,Berry Tramel | Updated: Thu, Apr 14, 2016

    Welcome to the home of our Thunder Buddies podcast, named, in part, from Universal Studio's highly-acclaimed comedy 'Ted', but inspired by our continued hope for wall-to-wall coverage of the Thunder. Below is our list of episodes (click the link to listen). If you prefer iTunes for your podcast listening experience, click here and subscribe. Hope you enjoy: Thunder Buddies -- 04/14 (<–Click Here) - With the playoffs here, the NewsOK sports crew sits down to discuss each series, particularly the Thunder's against the Mavericks. We fused our typical 25-minute Thunder Thursday hangout into a podcast. Enjoy.

  • Which Thunder team will we see in the playoffs?

    By Jenni Carlson Columnist | Published: Mon, Apr 11, 2016

    On a night the Thunder beat down the Lakers 112-79, we said goodbye to the regular season. Yes, one game remains, a trip to San Antonio that is sure to be a jayvee affair. But next we see these guys play in this building the games will really count. The Jazz or the Grizzlies or the Mavericks or the Blazers will be here.

  • Power Lunch: Chat live with columnist Jenni Carlson

    From Staff Reports | Published: Mon, Mar 28, 2016

  • Power Lunch: Chat with columnist Jenni Carlson

    From Staff Reports | Updated: Fri, Mar 25, 2016

    The Sooners have advanced to the Elite Eight, the Cowboys have a new basketball coach and the Thunder just keeps on winning. Talk about that and more with Jenni Carlson in the Power Lunch live chat at 11 a.m.

Jenni Carlson Today at 9:42 AM Go check out @anthonyVslater this morning. He's got video of some of the #Thunder's defensive problems. Hustle a clear issue.
Jenni Carlson Today at 9:18 AM Sports' unsung heroes are the best. Jeremiah Ollison has been impacting kids on the NE side of OKC for decades.
Jenni Carlson Today at 9:11 AM RT @mgpeters23: Follow the @APSE_sportmedia Great Plains regional meeting live. I'll try not to say anything I'll regret.…
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 10:39:36 PM CST Truth.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:58:29 PM CST @ESPNStatsInfo Oop, boxscore got the final update ... to 43. Good on you.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:53:20 PM CST @ESPNStatsInfo According to the official box score, the largest lead was 39 points.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:32:40 PM CST They just made shots because the #Thunder defense stunk.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:28:28 PM CST @MikeSherman And I'm still keeping play-by-play. Feel free to add that to my performance eval. #dedication
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:26:30 PM CST Hey, it's Andre Miller! Whoa.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:25:00 PM CST @mfa6677 @EvanEpstein60 My lawyer husband has raised no concerns. Though he did go start watching Netflix in the other room.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:23:04 PM CST RT @anthonyVslater: Spurs starting lineup: 39-of-53 shooting (14 misses) Westbrook: 5-of-19 shooting (14 misses)
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:19:23 PM CST @EvanEpstein60 Tell me more. I have to keep watching because, well, it's my job.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:18:44 PM CST As Chris Paul once said, "It's bad. Bad. Bad. Bad."
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:18:30 PM CST #Thunder need an extra quarter. Less at half than Spurs had in 1Q. Less after 3Qs than Spurs had at half.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:17:32 PM CST RT @MikeSherman: #WhatsTheHeadline #SAvsOKC Go. @TheOklahoman
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:13:03 PM CST @stevebullard How about, "The Thunder took the night off. So did I." Boom. Mic drop.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:12:03 PM CST @TommyLambertOKC Helping the guys in SA from my couch. I'm betting he'll be watching "30 Rock". He's been working through it.
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:10:56 PM CST RT @Just_JD38: Spurs in 3
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:10:39 PM CST The hubs is also having a beer. #thisisntfair
Jenni Carlson Sat, Apr. 30 2016 09:09:27 PM CST The hubs has retreated into the other room to watch Netflix. Wish I could join him.