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.