One of the difficulties of working at a relatively new TrueHoop Network blog, as opposed to a major newspaper or a well-known website, is the ability to nail down good relationships with actual NBA players. Veterans like Michael Lee, David Aldridge and Marc Stein, have been around long enough to cultivate solid, trustworthy relationships with certain players, and they are granted more access because of their well-known employers (The Washington Post, NBA.com/TNT, ESPN.com). When you’ve only been around for only three years like I have it is more difficult–but not impossible.
My quest to get to know some of the NBA players a bit better has been even more difficult this year, because I mainly cover the opposing locker rooms (thus the title of this particular post). I see the Wizards players in passing, and if I’m lucky I’ll get a head nod or a “What’s up man?”, but nothing close to a substantive conversation that produces some juicy bloggable information. When I’m in the opposing locker room, the beat writers for whatever team is in town that particular night usually have a monopoly on those close relationships–as they should. Players are friendly to me, and they are willing to answer questions, but I can never really get over that hump where they are comfortable enough to truly talk to me–with one exception.
I first caught up with New Orleans Hornets forward, David West in March of 2009, when they took on the Wizards. I had seen him talking to Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson (Dr. Dyson is a minister, a professor, a radio talk show host, and he has written numerous books on race and cultural matters in this country. He’s also a frequent guest on the HBO Show, “Real Time With Bill Maher), and I wanted to ask him what they talked about. Before disappearing in the training room for treatment, West explained that he admired Professor Dyson, and he just wanted to finally meet the man. He thanked me for noticing, and we parted ways.