September 16, 2010
For the next few weeks, I'm going to pick an NBA-related subject, A-through-Z, and tell you why it's worth your time, and why it's one of the reasons I love covering this league. Because that's why I wanted to become a scribe who's paid to cover this league. Sharing the things I know and love with those of my kind. All that stuff.
Because I'm lucky enough to have your ear for however long, I don't care that this might come off as a bit twee. A little embarrassing. A little too forthright. I'm OK with that. Hopefully you are, as well.
"B" is for "blogs."
This is a hard subject to easily delve into. I started writing about the NBA online in 1997. Had the site I wrote for been around four or five years later, it would have been called a "blog." I don't consider myself a blogger, mainly because I'm still slavish to the original genesis of the word "blog" (a web log). But at this point in my life, I've spent more time writing on blogs than I have actually playing the sport I cover on blogs. I've spent more time reading blogs about basketball than I have playing basketball.
They've enriched my life in ways too numerous to even attempt to document. So let's attempt, because we're daft.
The idea behind a blog, as vague a term as it is in September of 2010 is still valid. Still brilliant. Still worth getting giddy over.
It's the idea that writers can put things into the machine, and have their work pop out without much editorial stank in the way. This isn't always a good thing. This isn't often a good thing. But it's changed things.
It's the idea that writers can speak in a voice that wasn't handed down to them by Medill or Mizzou or ages of journalistic how-tos muddling and mixing and creating an unremarkable beast out of what was once a talented and of-him/herself writer. The idea that I can toss out a 43-word sentence like the one you just struggled through, and not have it be covered in red ink a day and a half later.
It's the idea that you can work in a tone that doesn't fit with your pregame notes column filed at halftime, and your quick postgame recap. A gamer filed scant seconds before deadline, just after picking up a few needless (but asked-for) quotes from often disengaged players who are far more interested in applying lotion than accurately describing that deciding 12-4 run, pounded out within confines that were created decades ago. Not during the golden era, mind you. Just a consistently rolling and churning brand of orthodoxy, with hints and rules picked up from the dullest aspects of every era.
It's the idea that you can come clean. Like, I live in Indiana, but I root for the Bulls. But that doesn't mean I can't describe the Bulls accurately. Nor does it mean my rooting interest precludes me from talking about the other 29 teams accurately. Also, I think Kobe Bryant(notes) is a giant phony. I also think, in terms of basketball smarts, ambition, drive and character, he should be the most admired player in this game. I think LeBron James(notes) is a coddled, immature brat who wears sunglasses indoors. I also think he'll end his career as the best player to ever play this game. Blogs allow for our brains to work in shades of grey. Grey matters, you know.
Blogs allow for bad puns.
Blogs also allow for black-and-white thinking. For instance, I think that if you've ever cropped and posted a picture of women whose appearance on your blog is solely designed to titillate your hateful, mindless readers, you've lost me. Actually, I don't think. I know that you've lost me. The Internet is mostly porn. If the human body is 60 percent water, then the Internet is 99.6 percent pornography. If you really need some strapless thing to gawk at during your daily sports roundup, then, really, you've just given up on life.
And this goes for any sort of lascivious packaging that derives from the allowance of PG-13 rated pictures. Drunken hook-up stories? Couldn't you teach me more about baseball? I don't follow the game as much as I used to, and I'd like to learn more. Couldn't that space be better utilized to teach me things germane to a sport?
Oh, yeah. Learning more. Blogs let us learn. Blogs let us question, blogs let us determine (for however long we reckon that take to be viable and appropriate), and blogs let our fandom breathe. Really, all websites should allow for this. But because they're often run by people who decided, in their late 20s, that they had learned all they needed to learn, standards and rules are set rather than ideals and goals.
This is where it kind of comes full circle. Actually, this is where it completely comes full circle, considering where I started 13 years ago. A "blog" is a catch-all term for the evolution of a proper website in many cases. What started out as an online journal has now evolved (to put it optimistically) into the go-to phrase to describe any website that doesn't remind us of a newspaper or periodical.
Which allows for writers who contribute up to 10 posts a day to work five days a week without their readers knowing where they're from, what their relationship status is, what their favorite band is, or what they had for lunch. Typical blog subjects, from nearly a decade ago. I suppose that's what Twitter is for.
Again, this isn't always a good thing. The note that began all, can also destroy. But if your habits are sound and your connection is good, you can spend an entire day just learning, learning, learning about something you love, love, love.
Of course, learning about the thing you love the most also makes you want to learn more about the people talking with you. It's why the guy at the vintage Audi Quattro blog gets asked about his vacation when he returns from a week away. It's why the woman who runs that tech blog takes in well-wishes when she loses a long weekend to the flu. It's why the NBA's blog community doesn't really have many enemies. Many combatants. Many feuds. Many disagreeable posts that don't start with, "while I usually agree with just about everything [insert writer here] says ..."
It's why Trey Kerby, a guy I met through a blog, married my wife and I last month.
Years ago, the big hype behind the idea of a computer that could talk to a phone line in every house, alongside that chicken in every pot, was that communication as we know it would change forever. And it has. It's streamlined. When I want to talk, I send a Direct Message on Twitter. When I want to talk longer than 140 characters, I go to email. God forbid I have to pick up a phone. I think I left mine in the car, anyway.
But the idea behind communication -- sharing the things you know and love with those of your kind -- hasn't changed in the slightest. It's still there to warm you, to inform you, and to help you seek out what you feel like you need the most, in the shortest amount of time allowable. And this is where it comes full circle. There's no difference in my routine today, then there was with the kid typing "NBA" into the Yahoo! search engine in his Netscape browser 15 years ago. Only the results have changed.
It's a great time to be a fan, a follower, a freak. Everything you want, as far as your imagination can conceive, is out there. And the best part? Tomorrow will be the greatest time to be a fan, a follower and a freak. And the day after that will be even better. Just keep expecting more, and eventually you'll get what you want.