A farewell and a new beginning for the Digest
I can’t seem to think of a good way to preface the following: This will be my last post at D-LeagueDigest.
I have received and accepted a full-time job offer with the National Basketball Association’s league office, which will necessitate my departing from my current role as lead author in this space. The short-short version is this: For the next year, I will be doing a little bit of everything as I rotate through several departments, and what the future holds thereafter remains to be seen. It won’t necessarily be a writing-centric job, though I won’t be opposed if my byline continues to pop up on occasion. I’m thrilled and grateful to have this opportunity, and I’m excited about what looks to be an excellent experience going forward.
We’ll leave it at that for now on the front regarding my future because we have two other not-especially-short bits of business to attend to this morning. Click through the jump, and we’ll get right to ‘em.
As far as the future of the Digest is concerned, the good folks at the TrueHoop Network and I are still figuring out a few long-term logistics, but I can guarantee you this: You’ll be in good hands – better than mine – effective immediately. Those hands belong to Matt Hubert, whom you know from both his Thursday morning contributions here and his work at Blog Talk BayHawk. He will be stepping forward into an expanded authorship role and taking over management of day-to-day operations on site. Matt is a solid writer, a good guy and a passionate hoops lover and D-League aficionado. He is going to do a terrific job here, and I have little doubt that, just as has been the case at CelticsBlog over the last 13 months, this site will only continue to grow and improve in my absence.
Look out for more updates to come in this space about the site’s future and other potential contributors as more decisions are made going forward.
And so we reach the part of this good-bye that will blow to smithereens any chance I had at brevity: the gratitude. A disclaimer first: I haven’t made it. Haven’t arrived. Haven’t hit the big-time or whatever other cliche you might have. I have a new opportunity in front of me about which I’m very excited, but it’s the next step in a personal journey whose destination remains unknown at this point. It’s not a be-all, end-all, which I point out only to make clear that the following isn’t meant as some kind of buffoonish lifelong victory speech or any such nonsense. But what little I have already accomplished has been largely due to two factors: being fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time on certain occasions and being even more fortunate to have great people around me. The latter is the critical issue at the moment.
When I left CelticsBlog to work for the NBA in the summer of 2009, I had a pretty good idea that I would be back in the blogosphere in some capacity in the autumn. This time, I don’t know when I’ll be back. Because blogging hoops has become a significant part of my life during the last three years, and because this could be my last chance with a forum like this for the foreseeable future, I would be remiss not to offer some recognition here to many of the people who have been so helpful along the way thus far. Many of these people have been and will be contacted privately as well, but a little showing of public love never hurts.
This will be long and wordy. Inevitably, I will forget to mention someone. It will not be intentional. I will feel terribly about this. But I’m giving it a shot anyway, because if at any point you’ve managed to enjoy any of my writing, chances are some of these folks are the ones to credit.
The folks at the TrueHoop Network have been fantastic. That starts at the top with Henry Abbott and Kevin Arnovitz, who put their faith in me to run with this D-League blog and invested plenty of time and energy in providing a set of excellent opportunities over the past year. It’s an honor to be a part of their circuit. That’s a circuit that also includes many terrific bloggers, several of whom I have been fortunate enough to encounter in person: Hanging out with Royce Young, Spencer Hall and fellow ‘Zou alum Matt Moore (congrats again on CBS, Matt!) at All-Star in Dallas was great. On that same trip, Rob Mahoney and I wound up turning what should have been a 15-minute ride from breakfast back to the hotel into a 90-minute fiasco of amusement. Zach Harper, who I haven’t met, has indulged my constant tweeting about “The Wire” and also absorbed a recent g-chat temper tantrum from me about Matt Kemp’s play in center field. Eddy Rivera, once my Orlando counterpart at SBNation, now my Orlando counterpart at THN, has been terrific everywhere and is an APBRmetrics whiz. Zach Lowe (who does an incredible job covering the Celtics) and I are planning to meet for lunch in New York soon. I’m honored that he would take the time. If you’re not reading John Krolik or watching Sebastian Pruiti‘s video breakdowns, you’re insane. The list goes on as those are just a few of the terrific folks in the Network, but suffice it to say it’s been a pleasure to work with all of you.
On the D-League side, JP Lespinasse has been a chief supporter from the start. As far as I can tell, Monica Lewis and Joanna Shapiro work approximately 36 hours per day (seems difficult, doesn’t it?), never sleep and never seem tired. No idea how they do it. Thanks also to Dan Reed, Chris Alpert and Shawn Smith for their accessibility and support for the site.
I’m grateful to the NBA for this next opportunity with the company. Special thanks to John Acunto, Mike Bass, Heather Roberts and Adam Silver for all their help and to a multitude of other folks at the company who have taken the time to work and chat with me. You know who you are. Also, a tip of the cap to up-and-comers Jared Cutler (now with ScoreBig), Pete Axtman (now with RLM PR) and Deirdre Lafferty for their continued help serving as mentors to me.
Evan Brunell, Andrew Strickert and Jon Burkett of what was once Most Valuable Network believed enough – I still have no idea why – to give me a shot to start writing for a public audience for the first time back in October 2006. I hope they didn’t come to regret it. I certainly haven’t. Thanks, fellas.
The people at CelticsBlog probably deserve a week’s worth of posts unto themselves. The incomparable Jeff Clark brought me on to run the general NBA beat and gave me seemingly endless leeway to babble, wreak havoc and generally enjoy myself there. He gave me a chance to work with a fantastic staff and to write for a readership every bit as good. Same goes for Bob Day, Tom Savage and Justin Poulin. Jeremiah Haley and Andy Needel have become terrific long-distance correspondents (in addition to being fellow staffers), and I’ve enjoyed working with Tom Bellinger, tboots, FLCeltsFan (she of Celtics content-linking legend), William Leahy, Mitch Hylton (even if he is a Jayhawk loyalist), Chris, Dirk, Edgar, Cfan and Drucci as well. I had the pleasure of meeting Seamus Donoghue at Game 4 of the Finals. On the front page, Jimmy Toscano and Greg Payne are both headed for terrific careers, and Tom “tenaciousT” Halzack has been one of my writing mentors since my days at MVN (so if you hate my work, blame T!).
The readership at CelticsBlog earns a special nod for being both vocal and informed and for holding me accountable and keeping me honest. Those folks have been far kinder and more warmly welcoming to me than I ever had a right to expect, and it’s been a pleasure to maintain as many relationships as I have with members at CB since departing the front page more than a year ago. Bo Wilson and I would probably agree on just about everything if not for the fact that he is a lifelong Oklahoma Sooner, and I came out of Big 12 rival Missouri. Darrell Hatfield seems like a good guy who just happens to suffer from a similar OU affliction. Henry Giasson bestowed the humbling Professor nickname upon me. Mike Cuccaro has kept me updated on life as a Michigan State fan in Atlanta. Matt O’Connor offered the view of a Celtics fan on the Left Coast. The Walker Wiggle nicknamed himself “The Original Daily Babble Fan.” twinbree remains in the process of teaching me what she has studied on the relationships between education policy, sports and low-income students. Nick Agneta has sent over a few ideas to inspire stories and a mini-series here at the Digest. Juan Curbelo Piza is never short for kind words and wisdom to impart. Jessica Daniels has offered constant words of encouragement about my work. Carl Dorsch’s presence has been missed, but he always adds something great to the conversation when he is around. Ryan DeGama and I traded Celts emails throughout the playoffs, and when his new site launches, he’s going to absolutely kill it. You heard that here first. Those are just a few of the great folks from the CB writing days who have cared enough to share their insights with me, and I appreciate all those who took the time. In addition, at the Digest, Springfield Armor super-fan Scott Darcy has been a source of well-timed amusement.
Lee Levin deserves his own paragraph. A long-time commenter at CelticsBlog, he has been relentlessly supportive of my work for quite some time, spent entire games I had to miss narrating play-by-play to me through Google chat so that I would have an editorialized recap to read afterward, joined me for dinner in New York City on a couple of occasions and become a good friend. All the while, he has become a star in the field of music blogging, and he’s on his way to doing the same somewhere in the entertainment field. Looking forward to your permanent return to New York, Lee.
The experience at CelticsBlog also brought two more related benefits: becoming more engrossed in the Celtics’ corner of the Interwebs and serving as part of SBNation‘s excellent network of blogs. Celtics Town‘s Jay King does a great job on the C’s and also shares my love of Harlan Coben’s work. Red’s Army’s John Karalis always has a unique take to offer, and it was great to meet him and the entertaining Jackie Taylor in Dallas. Twitter helped connect me with Celtics super-fan and blogger Jamey Burke (who I spent 10 good minutes chatting with at Game 4 of the Finals) and with Michelle of NBA Musings, transcriber of all ridiculousness Stephon Marbury-related, founder of the Craig Sager tumblr project and possibly America’s most dedicated dog owner.
On the SBN side, when CB joined the network, it excited me simply to be affiliated with Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty and Matt at Blog a Bull, two long-time favorites. Of course, in my first year as a D-League blogger, the Ridiculous Upside crew has been a tremendous help, led by Scott Schroeder and Jon Lewallen (whose occasional use of “If you’re anything like me, and I know I am…” is one of my favorite catchphrases on the Web). Last week’s draft gave me a chance to meet Liberty Ballers‘ Mike Levin and Bullets Forever‘s Mike Prada while also reconvening with the eminently goofy Seth Rosenthal and fellow Mizzou Tiger Tom Martin. Silver Screen and Roll‘s Rob Baptista is a terrific guy, and it’s been a pleasure to watch him go from CelticsBlog commenter to SSR beat writer. The entire community at Blazersedge, led by Dave and Ben but extending to a great many of their members, has always treated me like one of their own. Detroit Bad Boys‘ Matt Watson could always spare a few minutes to answer questions and provide thoughtful advice. Sames goes for SBNBA maven Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun. Exchanging emails with Rohan from At the Hive and Evan Dunlap at Third Quarter Collapse always leaves me knowing a lot more than I did beforehand. Rock M Nation‘s Bill Connelly and I have sat down for a couple of interviews over the past two years. In addition to bleeding black and gold, he’s just a guy who gets it and makes me feel like I learned something when we’re done chatting. Much appreciated, all.
I have no idea quite where to put him here, but the Basketball Times‘ George Rodecker will always be my media guardian angel for helping me learn the ropes and not continue to feel like the poor lost fool I did when I walked into the theater at Madison Square Garden to cover my first draft in person in 2008. Thanks, George.
Also on the draft front, I had the joy of running into David Cassilo each of the last two years. David interned at WFAN Radio in New York at the same time I did and has since gone on to do some work for Newsday and freelance for other papers as well. He is headed for more good things to come. While WFAN is on my mind, thanks also to Eddie Scozzare, Paul Arzooman, Lou D’Angelo, Paul Drescher and Darrell King for their support during and after my time there.
Here at the Digest, you have all been saved from more of my droning by the work of certain others: Springfield Armor guard Tre Whitted blogged for us at times during the season. Bakersfield Jam PR savant Matt Kolsky did the same, and Matt is now hosting a weekend radio show, which can be streamed live from 10pm-1am Pacific by tuning in here. Thanks to both of them for offering their perspectives throughout the season – and of course, to successor Matt Hubert who has done a fine job here and at BTBH and will only continue to do so going forward. Sam Powell provided friendly chatter and great graphics work. An honorable mention to point guard Lanny Smith, who hopped aboard for a couple of podcasts this season and is refreshingly honest and simply a blast to chat with every time I get the chance. Best wishes to Lanny for a successful recovery from the injury that ended his 2009-10 campaign prematurely.
I hear from different people all the time that golf should be a focus area as a valuable combination of networking and leisure in the business world. While we’ll see what the future holds for me in that regard, I’ve been thrilled to discover firsthand the connectivity offered by pick-up basketball. Of course, I was familiar with J.E. Skeets’ work at Yahoo! and The Basketball Jones, but I had never really chatted with him until he and I wound up sharing a backcourt the morning of the 2010 All-Star Game (a team that included TBJ mate Tas Melas as well). Nice player, even nicer guy. Similarly, it wasn’t until after I spent that morning guarding him (with varying degrees of success) that I shook hands and shared introductions with Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA. Bloggers: It’s seriously worth attending every event and conference you can for the value of playing in the pick-up games alone. See, Dad? I told you it wasn’t a waste of money when your slow, uncoordinated goofball of a son spent more time playing pick-up at the rec center senior year than he did in the classroom or the newsroom. This stuff pays off. Thanks for cutting those checks to Mizzou.
Speaking of connections made on the court, when I first met Michael Nye in the rec center at the University of Missouri, I figured he was a student, probably my age or a year or two behind me at school. It wasn’t until several weeks later that I found out that he was a) an Ohio State alum with at least a few years on me, b) the managing editor of the Missouri Review and, most importantly, c) a huge Celtics fan and already a Celtics Hub devotee. Michael and I exchange a couple of lengthy emails each week on all things Celtics, literature and pick-up hoops. Definitely one of my favorite folks to hear from on a regular basis. Also, yes, I’m insanely bad at estimating people’s ages. Or distances. Or angles. Or anything, really.
Outside the hoops world, KBIA Radio‘s Janet Saidi, Maureen McCollum and the recently departed Sara Wittmeyer (congrats on the new job!) have continuously treated me better than I deserve. They tolerated an inordinate amount of occasionally insolent behavior during my time with the station (including the now-legendary incident in which I allegedly fell asleep while they made a presentation to a class of mine during my sophomore year of college; I swear it was accidental, if it occurred at all), embraced my goofiness, took an interest in my work outside the NPR affiliate and taught me a ton. Same goes for KOMU-TV‘s Jen Reeves, the patron saint of new media in Columbia, Misery Missouri. A thanks as well to Lynda Kraxberger and Karen Mitchell, the latter for demanding that I let her take a new mug shot of me to replace the disaster that went up on NBA TV earlier this year. Granted, my trusty Oscar the Grouch avatar still outclasses me, but her work marked a significant improvement over my use of my Macbook’s camera.
On the rare occasion that I have actually begun to labor under even the momentary delusion that I was doing something vaguely correctly, an excellent collection of close friends and roommates over the years have stood close by to remind me that this was assuredly not the case, that I was a babbling idiot and that any ostensibly right step was merely of the blind-squirrel-finds-a-nut-sometimes variety. Thanks for always setting me straight. And, you know, for the occasional support, too.
Of course, incalculable thanks go to Miscreant Younger Sister of Son of The Guru, Mother of Son of The Guru and The Guru himself for their unconditional love and unwavering support. Miscreant Younger Sister seems to be moving in the direction of acting like less of a miscreant, which is nice. Mom has the best plus-minus of any Celtics fan I know. Dad has read and printed every word I have ever published, produced countless story-worthy outbursts during Celtics and Dodgers games over the years and served as the main idea man for many of my endeavors. You three are the best.
And finally, a thanks to all of you, everyone who has taken time out of his or her day to read some of my work, to write in, to respond to one of my rambling emails and character-controlled (and thus slightly less ramble-ific) tweets, or to take a few minutes to provide advice or encouragement, even something as simple as “Keep plugging!” Time and again, I’ve made wrongheaded claims and misguided predictions, and time and again, most of you seem to have forgiven me for it. Or stuck around just to laugh at me, perhaps. I’m just a guy who really likes basketball, really likes hearing himself talk and is just delusional enough to have thought once that maybe some other people would, too. Any meaning my words have, that comes from all of you. I can assure you that I have learned and continue to learn considerably more from you than you have from me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Writers in the crowd, you can rest assured I’ll be reading and lurking.
So that, at long last is it. Again, if I didn’t mention you by name, that’s a product of momentary forgetfulness and concern about not leaving Matt Hubert with no bandwidth going forward, and I’ll feel like the world’s worst person when you remind me of the omission. Feel free to drop me a line anytime via email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @sw43 (the great dilemma again: are you supposed to use the term “at” when you’re going to say that something is “at” a certain Twitter account, since the account name uses the @ sign anyway?), and if you’re ever on Long Island or in the NYC area, lunch is always an option. I never shy away from stuffing my face.
If you made it this far, you deserve a medal and the chance to kill me with your bare hands. Sadly, I’m offering neither.
But really, thanks to all of you for the time and for making me a part of your corner of the Interwebs during last three-plus years. If and when the time comes, I’ll look forward to returning to the blogosphere to write once more.
Until then, catch ya on the flip side of many meridians.