j.e. skeets

The underdog beauty of The Basketball Jones, er, The Starters

Five springs ago, I stumbled on a pot of audio gold.

I was living in Buffalo, N.Y. and needed good listening material to accompany my 20-mile bike rides along the Niagara River (yes, you can absolutely ride a bike in Buffalo … during the spring and summer.) I started listening to podcasts and downloaded a handful for my rides; I loved the NBA (and still do), so I searched whatever podcasts I could find on the sport.

That is how I discovered The Basketball Jones.

Everything about it screamed “well-kept secret”. The hosts, J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas, followed a familiar path in terms of topics — recapping the previous day’s action and offering their respective takes — but they did it in such a unique way. They were conversational yet intelligent, relaxed yet witty; they were, to borrow an oft-used expression, the types of people with whom you would want to watch a game.

In short, they did what every professional studio show tried — and usually failed — to do.

On top of that, they both lived in Canada. This fact made them even more endearing to me, for two reasons. First, I had grown quite fond of the Canadian spirit after living in Buffalo, five minutes from the border.

The second reason? It made them seem like even more of a long shot to break their “well-kept secret” status.

Five years later, that status has been shattered.


3 GREAT STORIES: The NBA Finals, and innovation in sports coverage (Part 2)

Every week, I will shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

This year’s NBA Finals have been outstanding.

How? Let me count the ways.

  1. Two great teams: the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs
  2. The individual stars (LeBron James, Tony Parker, Dwayne Wade, Tim Duncan, and more!) with legacies on the line
  3. The role players stepping up and performing wondrous feats of strength
  4. The seemingly endless number of storylines popping up every night
  5. The series’ complete lack of predictability

Simply put, the Heat and Spurs have given us a classic NBA Finals so far.

They have also compelled the sport’s numerous journalists and bloggers to step up their game.

With great moments come great opportunities for innovative and memorable journalism. I already used this space last week to show how sports coverage has both improved and diversified with the advent of the Web. The great work continued this past week, so I decided to provide an encore of great — and inventive — reporting of this year’s NBA Finals.

Experience LeBron James’ block on Tiago Splitter in 24 different ways (6/10/13, TheScore.com): If you are even a casual sports fan, you probably saw what has fast become one of the most famous blocked shots in NBA history.

Click on the link to this story, and you can immerse yourself in LeBron James’ famous block.

People always talk about how, in today’s media landscape, we have so many options that we do not really unify over big moments anymore. But the diverse landscape also allows us to magnify those moments. This article from The Score’s basketball blog, The Basketball Jones, exemplifies this by compiling the various photos, videos, and angles of James’ block into one mammoth, defining blog entry.