Well if you know me, you know that I’m a huge basketball fan. I’m not into fantasy football, and though I’ve done fantasy baseball, I get pumped every year for my fantasy basketball league. Along with my buddies, we’re entering the sixth season of our league.
As the NBA season draws near, the excitement naturally builds. The media hypes that this is “the most anticipated NBA season in history” because of everything that happened last summer. Bosh and LeBron went to Miami, Amar’e to the Knicks, Jermaine and Shaq became Celtics, Al Jefferson to Utah, Boozer to Chicago, Blake Griffin and John Wall really creating buzz for the rookie of the year, something we haven’t seen since LeBron and Carmelo, Kevin Durant truly arriving and a few other stories really captivated the NBA audience since the Lakers repeated as NBA champions.
For me, I’m looking forward to 4 things:
- How will the Miami Heat play? People said that the ego of a superstar was going to be a problem in Boston when they brought in their ‘Big 3’ but that clearly wasn’t an issue.
- Possibly the greatest power forward of all time, Tim Duncan, is making his last stand as a superstar in the league. This is his absolute last chance. For New England fans, picture Tom Brady with declining abilities (which I hope doesn’t happen for a long, long time), still under Bill Belichick going for one last ride. The tandem will use their wits and skill to go about business as usual one last time and make a run in the playoffs.
- The youth of Oklahoma City. These guys will make some mistakes but dazzle you with athletic ability highlighted by quite possibly the best player in the world, Kevin Durant, to the point where they will undoubtedly become everybody’s second favorite team.
- Will anybody be able to challenge Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers? Can Kobe still do it? Is he getting too old? Will injuries add up? The thing is, Los Angeles can survive without Kobe, but they are not a threat without him. Every year I look for a decline in Kobe, and every year he becomes a more complete player. His statistics change but the the number in the win column, which is the only thing he cares about, stays the same.
I’ve asked my friends, people who I think are, for the most part, intelligent basketball people the question everybody asks:
Who is going to make the Finals? And, who is going to win it all?
They’re all Lakers fans and all of them have unanimously picked their home team to make it all the way. Clearly the pendulum of power, as a whole, has swung to the Eastern Conference. We’ve left the early 2000’s where Los Angeles, Portland, San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix were all fighting for the right to beat the crap out of the East representative.
Now, the West has solid teams, but nobody is really that great (Lakers excluded, of course). When you really look at it, Portland has been “getting there” but have never really made it, Phoenix is no more, Utah will be exciting and people will think they’ll be able to challenge, but there’s a difference between challenging and winning. Dirk is older and though Dallas will throw up some numbers they won’t really do anything. San Antonio will show up and give it their all, but it’s just not going to be good enough. Sacramento, Golden State, Houston, Denver…thanks but no thanks. The only two things that can stop L.A. in the West are injuries and Oklahoma City. Now you can never predict injuries, and though OKC is great, exciting, and all those other positive words, but their just not good enough because the Lakers went out and got defenders to stop Durant and Westbrook.
The East, on the other hand, is challenging and much more difficult. There’s Chicago, Orlando, Boston, and Miami. Whoever makes it out of the east is going to be all tuckered out because there will be at least two really difficult and grueling series’. By virtue of their road, does that mean that Los Angeles will inevitably win again? I hope not, and I don’t think so.
The Celtics under Russell and Bird always had a difficult road to the Finals. Whether it was Wilt and Philly or the Bad Boy Pistons, they were always battle tested and it often led to continued success when it came time for performing on the biggest stage.
Not because I don’t like them, but rather because I just don’t think they’ll do it again, I say the Los Angeles will not win the title and thus fail to grab their third title in a row. The 2008 Celtics built chemistry and character throughout the season and finally hit their stride in the Eastern Conference finals against Detroit. That’s when they became the championship team and to that end, I think the champion will come out of the east…and then it comes down to matchups to figure out who makes it out.
Miami will have the top spot and go against number 4 Chicago and number two Orlando will go against Boston. I think Miami has a ton of trouble with the speed of Rose and the strength of the front court that Noah and Boozer provide but Miami will always have one, if not the two best player on the floor. Orlando’s strength comes in the front court with Dwight Howard, who will be a man possessed this season but Boston got bigger for this series, and to face Los Angeles. Boston wins and takes on the Heat in the conference finals. Boston’s drive, size and swagger outsmarts the younger and more athletically talented Miami team and goes all the way.
Call me a home, call me an idiot, or call me a genius…but this is my perspective. One thing for sure, is we’re in for one fantastic season with some faces gone from the landscape while some have changed their place or residence. We know what we know, but so many other things will occur that we’ll all be hooked from start to finish.
Well, a little more than a month ago I was fortunate enough to receive a summer internship with ESPN. I’ll be here in Connecticut working at their headquarters in Bristol for the next 10 weeks in the International Department. From what I know so far, I’ll be helping with the production for the Australia/New Zealand and Europe Sports Center. I’ll try to keep everybody updated with what’s going on at the Worldwide Leader and hopefully give some interesting stories along the way as well as my opinions on what’s going on in the sports world.
So far, here are some of my first impressions:
- Hartford, CT is vacant. Today was the first time I saw over 50 people. Definitely different from Los Angeles and Boston.
- There are no out-door basketball courts in this city.
- You can walk through the entire city (a state capital mind you), in less than 20 minutes.
- The people here are really cool.
Sports-wise, it’s crackin’. The NBA finals are set, Los Angeles v. Boston in a 2008 rematch, the French Open is going on, Le Tour de France, Wimbledon and most importantly the World Cup are on their ways. This summer will definitely be one to remember!
They say, if you want it bad enough, you can get it—you just need to put in the work. Well, Evan Brunell is one of those special people.
A native of Sturbridge, Mass., Brunell has paved his own road to success against pretty steep odds. He founded MVN.com (Most Valuable Network), which was an online sports website, when he was in high school. Unfortunately, in December of 2009, the site had to close down.
“I got into sports at a really early age…My parents put me in sports camps and sports leagues,” Brunell said. Until the age of 10, he attended a private school an hour west of Sturbridge, which gave him a lot of down time. “To pass the time on the bus rides, I read–so I became a sports fan and a reading fan,” he said. For Brunell, reading was the easiest way to gather information because he is profoundly deaf. That means that without his implant, he cannot hear a thing.
Brunell’s younger brother, Cal Brunell said, “when you think about Evan, you think about sports and the Sox.”
Along with MVN, Brunell has a Red Sox blog Firebrand of the American League and a Twitter account. His blog has received praise from several media outlets including ESPNBoston.com and from several well-credentialed writers. “It’s amazing how many club officials read … Fire Brand of the American League,” said Peter Gammons, the former Boston Globe Red Sox beat writer, ESPN baseball expert analyst and three-time National Sports Writer of the year winner.
Brunell said he wasn’t trying to do anything drastic with his websites. “I wanted a voice out there,” he said.
Kyle Banks, a 2009 Northeastern University graduate knew Brunell from way back in junior high through their time as undergraduates. Banks remembers how Brunell’s passion for sports and isn’t at all surprised at how far he’s come. “He always had a love for sports, particularly baseball,” Banks said.
Banks is no stranger to the new wave of Internet media himself. As an undergrad he had a radio show on the school radio station, WRBB, whose call sign is 104.9 FM. The show “Right In My Mouth Radio,” was accompanied with it’s own blog to try and reach a greater audience. Since the show, he and some friends began a new blog project, Corporatethuggin.com, which is a blog that publicly shows what kind of stuff a group of 20 something year old guys e-mail and talk about daily and then their take on the news.
Though the genres of their blogs are completely different, the desire to grow an audience remains the same. Banks said:
“The way the internet has evolved, people go to big named places to get their news.”
Banks said. For news, people go to CNN.com and for sports they’ll log on to ESPN.com.
The concept of small market blogging became popular in the last five to ten years. Banks points out that Brunell started at the right time and found success because he could grow and adapt as technology became a bigger part of news gathering and its dissemination.
It is these new mediums of technology that has made Brunell who is today. “New media opens the playing field so much” said Cal with respect to his older brother. Most of the people following Brunell’s blog didn’t know Brunell was deaf until the local paper published an article pointing out all he has done despite his disability, Cal said. He said he saw that article as a tribute to his brother’s work ethic.
Brunell never uses being deaf as a crutch. To get in touch with the Sox’s newest draft picks for example, Brunell logs on to facebook and quickly becomes their friend. This way, as they make their way through the farm system and become bigger names, he has already established a basis of communication. Brunell said, You’re getting in touch with them when they’re 17 or 18 and they haven’t been jaded yet by the media. This allows him to get in on the ground floor and later on he’s not someone completely new to them, and he think that helps.
Though his first trip to Fenway Park was in 1995 when Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco were the most popular Red Sox, he truly became a fan the following year, 1996. Brunel said that his passion for the team changed to rabid fan when they traded for Pedro Martinez in 1998.
It’s still tough for Brunell to do what he loves. He can’t just go into the locker room with a tape recorder so he’s a bit of a throw back reporter with a pad of paper and a pen writing down everything.
His disability certainly did not affect his knowledge of sports or his ability to write. “I became a sports writer because growing up liking sports and liking to read and then write, when I was thinking about a career in college I was like, I like sports, I like writing, I may as well write about sports,” he said.
So far, as Brunell puts it:
“My talent has out shown my limitations. Maybe the day will come…but I’ve been able to push through it so far.”
His disability has made Brunell the kind of person who continually looks for new ways of success. Rather than being afraid of new technology like some journalists, Brunell embraces it and takes advantage of every opportunity as soon as they present themselves.
From the moment he got his college e-mail he created a facebook account and he was on Twitter before most people.
Currently Brunell works for NESN. He continues to do what he has always done: read and write. His passion is evident from the moment you meet him. “I define myself as a driven individual who uses all means available to him to do the best job possible,” he said.
Dan Gregory, a faculty member of the School of Technological Entrepreneurship at Northeastern, as well as the faculty advisor for the venture accelerator IDEA at Northeastern graced our class today. His enthusiastic words highlighted how the perils of disruptive technologies change the scope of a business discipline.
His previous work brought him in contact with many journalists. Gregory posed the question, “What is it that you could lend a company that is growing and emerging?” Together we came up with a short list of qualifications that we as journalism students feel as though we posses: the ability to write well and clearly, a knowledge of how to gather information, the ability wot work on deadline, communicate clearly, understanding of new technologies, and good question asking skills.
Upon reviewing the list, Gregory exclaimed, “writing well, oh my God! That puts you in a select group of about 5% of people.”
Technology is something that as an entrepreneur you cannot be afraid of. He said that it’s the people not the technology that eventually wins the day for start up companies.
For me, my blog, at its current state, is a perception on sports and modern media outlets and consumption. I don’t know if what I’m doing right now has the potential to manifest into a company because it’s not specific enough. Additionally, if I were to focus only on sports, I’d be competing with the personal blogs of newspaper reporters across the country and with established sports media outlets like Sports Illustrated and ESPN.
Personally, I’m not sure I want to start my own company. My work skills are such that starting something completely new, to borrow a line from Austin Powers, “just isn’t my bag, baby.” I enjoy working with an established team and taking an existing and functioning project to the next level.
It is becoming more and more popular for consumers of news to have an outlet to make their voices heard by the general public and by the papers/publications they read. Unfortunately today’s world poses an interesting dilemma for the media outlets: should those commenting be forced to use their real names or can they continue to do so anonymously?
Though it has not been proven in a court of law, there is one glaring incident in Cleveland, Ohio with the Cleveland Plain Dealer where making people post under their real names would seem logical. A Cuyahoga County judge, Shirley Strickland Saffold, is currently suing the paper for $50 million because the paper traced her anonymous comments regarding court cases, some of which she sat as the presiding judge for, and published her identity.
One noteworthy individual, Howard Owens, the editor and publisher of TheBatavian.com, wrote on his personal blog how it’s extremely important for news agencies to only let individuals comment using real names.
For me, it’s an interesting predicament. I feel as though the internet is a different medium than print and is therefore afforded different regulatory standards. I am not, however, trying to say that individuals commenting on online stories should be afforded any less constitutional rights of privacy then they would otherwise be given if they were writing a letter to the editor of the New York Times or Boston Globe.
I think that if the only way for people to comment on your site is to do so by using their real name then the comment sections will shrink. This is because we have become accustomed to doing things anonymously via the internet, but as every person of my generation can tell you, nothing you do on the internet is anonymous. Some computer nerd can figure out your IP address and a bunch of other stuff which would identify you and only you as the person making the comments.
Personally, I’m not one to comment on web sites and I don’t really read those sections anyway. Occasionally I’ll glance at the stuff written at the bottom of a funny YouTube clip because it’s usually “laugh out loud” hilarious.
Keeping the identities anonymous is fine with me as long as somewhere in the fine print the news agency states that they reserve the right to find out who you are for whatever reasons. It doesn’t bother me that they may bury the exact line on page 57–if they say it somewhere, then by clicking the box, I’m stating that I’m okay with whatever they say.
And if you make some erroneous comments, then be ready because there’s some computer guy sitting in a basement or a nice executive office who has the tools to find out who you are without breaking a sweat.
In class this week we were lucky enough to have a member from NewsTrust, Mike LaBonte, come and speak to our class. NewsTrust is a web site that links its users / visitors to news articles from all sorts of publications around the globe. The beauty of this web site is that there are reviews written about every article linked as well as comments.
One thing that I really like about NewsTrust is that they rate their reviewers. If you are new to the site, like I am, the reviews I make are not weighted as heavily as those done by others who have been members for longer and reviewed more articles. This way the other users can gauge the reviews made by certain individuals–after all, some people are always extremely cynical and their reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, but there are also those who always give everything high marks, and news consumers should be aware of that as well.
Each NewsTrust user creates their own personal profile where you can see all the articles they’ve reviewed. I’ve found, that after looking at “My Profile,” I’m generally easy with my reviews of articles.
For me, however, NewsTrust just doesn’t do it. I prefer to read an article and then I automatically have my own feelings about what I’ve just read. This site is all about sharing one’s personal opinion on the journalism of a particular story or news outlet–and I don’t care for that.
I also did not like the content on NewsTrust–there is no variety in the articles. Everything, in my opinion, is political. I’m much more into sports or some other form of entertainment, NewsTrst has just five subjects: World, U.S., Politics, Business, and Science / Technology. Out of those five, I would say I’m interested in the United States and World issues, and that’s it. Then, instead of sifting through people’s comments to find one that may be credible, I would look to someone I already know and trust regarding that issue and ask them their opinions based on the facts of an article.
Perhaps I’m too cocky or arrogant, but I feel as though the time I’ve spent as a journalism student has taught me what is or isn’t good journalism and why an article lacks substance or sufficient proof. I don’t need a site to tell me what the truth is or what is missing from a given piece.
Matt Carroll of the Boston Globe came to explain the concept of database journalism to our class. Carroll, an admitted computer nerd pointed out that working with numbers is something that journalists typically don’t like. Seeing as journalists tend to be more English/History versus Math/Science, Carroll understands where they’re coming from, but emphasized the fact that great stories can be found by just examining raw data.
“Data can compare people and towns and then lead to questions as to why things are the way they are,” he said.
Carroll’s first example was regarding a story he did on the topic of gun licenses in Massachusetts. After analyzing all the data he was able to plot his findings. Among the plethora of graphs, Carroll went with a map of Massachusetts with all the information available by county by just scrolling over that section of the map. He also pointed out that the graphs you decide to use vary on the information you’re trying to portray–Carroll recommended many-eyes.com, a great web site, which offers an extensive array of graphs for a given project.
Unfortunately, for all the benefits of database journalism, there are some perils attached. You have to be careful, he said, because you may sometimes mess up the numbers and then the results won’t make sense. He used an example of car accidents by hour that he did. Carroll couldn’t figure out why there were so many accidents occurring at midnight–the he realized he’d mixed up 12:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
It’s little mistakes that are treacherous to a journalist working with databases. “It’s all about the numbers, and you have to be careful with them,” he said.