Reporter Joy Duckett Cain is used to people having fun with her first name. Even on her first day of kindergarten the teacher said, "I just know you're going to be a joy to have in class." Since then, Cain, 28, has endured every possible variation on Joy to the World. "People actually think they're being original," she says. "It is a hard name to live up to."
Cain has no trouble measuring up at SI, where for the past year she has kept a close watch on the NBA. For this issue she worked on Alexander Wolff's profile of Boston Celtic guard Dennis Johnson (page 32), helping gather information for the story and checking the facts for accuracy. Cain is professional, easygoing and cool under fire. As the NBA playoffs neared full heat, she didn't even break a sweat. Says pro basketball editor Rob Fleder, "Joy is so cool, her glasses steam up in your average NBA arena."
Cain, who is also our resident expert on women's basketball, clearly—and accurately—predicted that Texas would win the NCAA title (SI College Basketball Special Issue 1985-86). But since her beloved New York Knicks let her down, she refuses to name her NBA playoff favorite. "I'm neutral," she says. "Besides, I'll probably have to cover the losers' locker room anyway."
Growing up in the Bronx, Cain played some hoops herself. She was a forward for the Evander Childs High Tigers, though you wouldn't know it by listening to her. She claims her vertical jump measured "four inches," her scoring average was "nonexistent" and her only shot was "a layup right under the basket." She also lettered in volleyball and tennis. At Queens College, Cain was too intimidated to go out for basketball, so she became the Knights' manager—for one game. "I didn't want to spend the rest of my life picking up other people's towels," she says.
May 25, 1986
Since leaving World Tennis for SI in 1982 she has written stories for us about tennis player Zina Garrison, former NFL star Dan Pastorini and her summer basketball experiences. For a 1984 feature on decathlete Daley Thompson, she traced the origin of his African nickname, Ayodele. "He didn't know that in Yoruba it meant 'joy enters the house,' " says Joy. She used the same reference book to name Angela Jamila Cain, now 22 months old. Jamila means "beautiful" in Swahili.
When Cain is out of the office or the losers' locker room, she is keeping up with Angela and her husband, Jasper, a bass player with a reggae band. Cain, a piano player herself, has composed more than 200 songs. After Muhammad Ali beat George Foreman in 1974, she wrote a song for Ali called The Champion. "My songs are too simplistic for Jasper's taste," she says. "It's your basic Barry Manilow-type shtick."
Her shtick at SI is just right. O.K., let's come right out and say it: She's a joy to work with.