[Fort Stevens Rec Center - NW Washington, DC - photo: K. Weidie]
As I get ready to take an extended summer vacation off to a location across the ocean, I can’t help how different this NBA summer feels. Yes, the lockout… But I’m also thinking about NBA players — who they are, how they are, where they are. Oh yea, and they’re also jumping across the pond lately.
NBA players are… themselves, for better or worse. Real people. I’ve known this. Covering the Wizards closely over the past couple of seasons has enforced this. It’s not breaking news.
It’s the coverage and opt-in exposure surrounding professional athletes as a whole, much less NBA players, that is vastly different now. Although, delving through the late David Halberstam’s brilliant book The Breaks Of The Game — about the world of pro basketball and the 1979-80 Portland Trailblazers — has helped me realize that while the times change fast, many principles simply get updated and don’t change much.
Halberstam discusses many themes in a changing NBA from some 30-years ago that can apply to the league landscape today. But when it comes to drastic change, it involves media coverage operating in a world where players serve as their own branded media machines. Hence, much of the traditional media (and new media) is forced to practice a mechanical-like re-conveyance of what the players put out on the open market. Yes, very different indeed.
Consider this passage from pages 69-70 in Halberstam’s book:
During the off-season [Lionel] Hollins had give a long interview to Steve Kelly of the Oregonian in which he had been critical of Blazer management, and critical of some of Jack Ramsey’s coaching practices. That of itself was something relatively new in the sports generally, and particularly so in Portland. The tendency in the past had been for reporters on the one hand to glamorize the athletes and the sport, but on the other hand, on all economic and social issues to go automatically to management for any statement. Gradually during the new iconoclasm of the mid-sixties, journalism had become mire irreverent and more willing to challenge authority in the society in general, and finally, somewhat later, in sports as well, to hear athletes talk on a wide range of social, political and financial matters, some related to sports, some unrelated.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, goes the phrase. Now, we have mobile device dong shots and Twitter… a wide range of bad and good athlete exposure. Not exactly challenges to authority, but clearly just one path blooming from free speech and thought.
Gone are the days of not hearing from or seeing athletes during the off-season. They are now readily accessible, doing some new relaxing with social media. They now connect direct.
With that said, a summertime Wiz Kids pictorial is in order (don’t worry, no dong shots) — in all their social media, pictures through Twitter glory — followed by some must-read links, video, commentary, etc.
[note: most photos a linked to original source]
Some Wizard is going to organize un-official practices in D.C.? That’s what a report from YNN Sports in Syracuse is saying that Blatche had said while at this third annual camp for kids. That will be big news to the turn-key bloggers, I’m thinking. Oh, right… the Redskins are going on.
Bless Andray Blatche’s heart… looking very Andray Blatche, scooby-snacking around at his camp in Syracuse, talking the mature talk. Good for him. He can only do what he can before he gets a chance to show it, right?
These pranks are very Gilbert Arenas of Nick Young … like father like son. Birdman and Birdman, Jr.
Mike Prada’s story about the Goodman League at Barry Farms is a good read, here’s my favorite part in particular:
The Goodman League isn’t for everyone. Season Ticket likes to tell the story of Nick Young, the Washington Wizards’ guard who, ironically, is among those likely to suit up for the Drew League (Los Angeles) team in a showdown against the Goodman League stars on August 20. Young played in the Goodman League once as a rookie. He played well, but nobody gave him any calls and his opponents went right back at him. So he hasn’t been back since.
“He was in the 6 p.m. game and it was like 100 degrees, so I don’t blame him,” Season Ticket says. “But yeah, he hasn’t been back.”
Tracy Murray is a WNBA coach? Yes, Murray, who had one of the best shooting playoffs in franchise history, will be coach of the Tulsa Shock, replacing Nolan Richardson (whom I once interviewed for a story when the Shock played the Mystics). Yes, Murray who was purportedly once recorded over the phone calling Rod Strickland gay to a mutual lady-friend who was playing them both — as in, she went and told Strickland. Strickland then punched Murray at the team hotel in Charlotte before a December 1997 game against the Hornets, leaving Murray a black eye and stitches. Yes, the same Tracy Murray. But we all have embarrassing mistakes, especially NBA players, so best of luck to Murray.
Worth the read… Top 8 hoops moments from ‘The Wire.
[The Basketball Jones]
Hey, look at that… Pam McGee has been elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Love the Page Three photo this week in the City Paper.
From a ‘The Best Team I Ever Covered’ feature on SI.com, this one about the Chicago Bulls:
On the court: I remember seeing Jordan, the league’s leading scorer and MVP, palming the ball in his right hand as Washington Bullets guard Brent Price gamely, but futilely tried to harass him. Price was crouched low, working furiously on defense, but every time he slapped at the ball, Jordan simply held it farther away, a Globetrotter toying with a General. At one point he faked a pass over Price’s head, pulling it back just as the Bullets’ guard turned to see where the ball had gone. It was the perfect symbol of how the Bulls treated the rest of the league as their plaything that season.
[via NBA Off-Season]
Caron Butler’s agent says the Dallas Mavericks intend on signing him to a long-term deal. But what will “long-term” be under a new CBA? Intuition tells me that 3-years, $18 million could be too much for a guy coming off knee surgery who will turn 32 next March.
No surprise, Cavs TrueHoop Network blogger John Krolik is an un-fan of Antawn Jamison.
[Cavs: The Blog]