Happy Monday, you guys. Feels like forever since we've chatted. With the July 4 holiday falling on a Monday, not only did that mean no While We're Waiting... hitting these pages on that glorious holiday, it meant that I spent all weekend away from sports in general, missing a gigantic chunk of all of the NBA free agency discussions. Andrew and Craig and Bode did a terrific job of covering their thoughts on all of the moving and shaking, but if I could add one element to the discussion, it would be that the NBA's free agency period should not begin until after the holiday.
I realize that the league wants to take a page out of the NFL's playbook in keeping the discussion flowing throughout the 12-month calendar. With the NBA Finals ending just days before the NBA Draft, and then free agency giving way to Summer League, it's so, so much from a coverage standpoint that four or five days of a delay wouldn't hurt anyone. Players can't even sign their new contracts until July 7. I refuse to believe that moving free agency until after a national holiday would hinder any transactions and lord knows that the media folks could use a break. (Except Woj because I'm not sold he knows how to take one.)
http://www.scout.com/cleveland-sports/story/1684213-origin-story-party-at-napoli-sThis all leads to this past weekend when I spent Thursday through Sunday in a house fit for The Real World tucked within the lovely Lo-Hi neighborhood of Denver. Think Tremont if Tremont was three times bigger, three times cleaner and on the side of a mountain. Beards, dogs, craft beer, coffee shops, burger joints, and lush views of mountains and stadiums and a downtown skyline. Out west with roughly a dozen friends for a bachelor party, it was another chance to completely disconnect from the world. While I attempted to follow along with the tragedy in Dallas, one of the only tweets I sent throughout that entire four-day stretch was in praise of our ability to sync Tom Hamilton (via the MLB At Bat app) to the FOX Sports 1 feed of the Indians-Yankees game on Saturday afternoon. It was perfect in that listening to Hammy call the game is always a bonus, but that I had no idea what else was going on anywhere else in the world of sports. The tickers at the bottom of the in-bar televisions mentioned things about Serena Williams and a few MLB All-Star Game replacements. The Cavs app on my iPhone pushed through final box scores from Las Vegas, but even those received a quick swipe to the left to delete them off of my home screen.
Having a web-based, news-oriented platform means having to stay on top of things in the midst of a 24-hour news cycle. Yearning to grow means having to be active on various forms of social media in addition to texting and emailing with individuals who can add value in various ways. Mobile phones are the gateway to all of these things. But much like anything else done in excess—be it for work, a hobby, whatever—it's such a weight off of ones shoulders to truly cut the ties for a few days. Of course, with any disconnection comes the whole catch-up process, but man... It sure is nice to clear the mind.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly in talks with Chris Andersen, the heavily tattooed, shot-blocking former teammate of LeBron James. While the deal is yet to be completed, Cavs head coach Ty Lue spoke of it as if we were waiting on mere formalities. And while his role remains to be seen, and his production may no longer be what it once was, there is little doubt that what Andersen brings in the form of a historical skill set is something that fans in Cleveland will undoubtedly cling to.
As I am any time Andersen is mentioned, I'm reminded of this story by former ESPN writer Jeff MacGregor titled, "The Illustrated Man," where the author tells the story from inside of the Miami Heat's fan festival.
"Birdman spent his first half hour being photographed with fans on the back of a personal watercraft. The line was mostly children, scores of them. "Do you see the Birdman, honey? Do you see him?" A new fan hopped on and off every 15 seconds for a souvenir photo taken against a green screen in a cloud of special effects and liquid nitrogen vapor. High-five, low-five, forearm, dap. He scowled that Birdman scowl. The scowl is a mask the children see right through. They love him the way they love dinosaurs and steam shovels."
The story is retrospective in a way, a great look back at the career and somewhat public fallout of several issues including his two-year suspension and the 2012 extortion scheme where a random woman from Canada made authorities in the U.S. believe Andersen was involved in child pornography rings. But it's also a terrific reminder of what Andersen has dealt with over his years and why fans will embrace the eccentric and misunderstood big man. He's not far removed from being one of the most efficient rim protectors in the league. The fact that he's the consummate teammate at a position of need also helps.
Watch for that standing ovation the first time he checks in to a game this fall.
You know how the NFL is going to be streaming games on Twitter? And you know how opinions ranged from "Hey, cool! Fewer play-by-play tweets!" (my camp, for the record) to "Wait. How?" (lots of others), the folks at Wimbledon attempted to stream the tennis tournament this weekend to some mixed reviews. I thought that the quality of the stream was great—a must-have if this is going to work—but the content itself left a lot to be desired. This piece at Variety lays out a lot of the concerns, including what Wimbledon wouldn't show (i.e. actual matches), as well as the size of the video. While the concerns are legit, the piece discounts the fact that there was once belief that people wouldn't read their magazine and newspapers on their mobile devices, but this could not have been more wrong. While there are a facet of individuals who still long for the old school, they're a shrinking segment being overtaken by those who consume their information and video on their hand-held devices.
Will watching a game on Twitter be better than watching at home? Doubtful given television and sound technology. But will it be easier and more accessible? You bet. And if the last few years have taught us anything, accessibility and ease tend to win out.
If you're going to spend a few days away from the world, disconnecting from real-time news, you could do a lot worse than spending your reading time with these pieces of #ActualSportswriting:
"Deep-Pocketed N.B.A. Has Short Arms When Offering a Hand Up" is an interesting column on a league so under discussed that I had not thought about the gap in pay between the two leagues—the NBA and NBDL. Baseball is undergoing a similar issue right now, so we could be looking at some changing tides in this space.
"An Oral History of American Gladiators" is exactly what it says. Gladiators ready? Readers ready?
"The Diary of Myles Thomas" is yet another dip into the Medium pool for ESPN. It's a terrific project that will get way too little in the way of discussion. Real-time historical fiction, told through a host of posts over at a very user-friendly platform.
"The inside story of Boston's meeting with Kevin Durant" is proof that Dan Shaughnessy can write when he really tries. Storytelling. Reporting. It can happen!
Have a great Monday, you guys. Now, if you'll pardon me, I have a few days of work waiting for me.