It's a scattered news and notes column today. By the way, can someone tell me why the NCAA's are better than...high school boys basketball state tournaments? I'm disturbed that I enjoyed the boys high school basketball tournaments on TV more than the NCAA tournament this year. No awkward TV time-outs, no all-knowing or overbearing announcers, and a focus on letting the game tell the story. How refreshing! And the game is much more "pure" at the high school game than at the college level. I'm just curious to hear if anyone out there actually prefers high school basketball to other levels. (Important NBA games are still #1 to watch for me, but high school may be #2 now, followed by college men's #3, WNBA #4, and pick-up #5).
Because this post is so mediocre, I'm filling it with random Gary Payton candid shots. Of course, let me pay appropriate homage to the masters of inserting intriguing photos in NBA articles--Free Darko. I believe what I'm doing is different, and hope they agree, but I want to respect and acknowledge innovators who were first with related ideas.
Cuban Blogger Ban
I found myself wondering today why Cuban had banned bloggers from the locker room. Surely there had to be more to the story than what I had learned so far? After all, Cuban himself is a blogger; so how could he ban bloggers and decrease coverage of his team? The link points to a call for a blog ban on Cuban by Jordi Scrubbings.
I listened to Cuban chat with Bob Costas on Saturday. He all but admitted that the "lack of space" reason was an excuse, and that he is not sure what blogger criteria to set to sort through blogger applications for locker room access. He also made a few comments about blogging having been around for 12 years in one form or another and how it was really no big deal anymore. Quite honestly, I have to agree with him on this; what, you've never heard of Geocities? Live Journal? Even those elementary AIM profile pages? Software has made it easier to publish, and broadband Internet speeds have allowed us to embed videos, but those are about the only real changes I see, except that the mainstream reader is more aware of blogs.
However, turns out that DallasBasketball.com is warning that there is more to this story than you think. Before I get into the details, how many views do you think DallasBasketball.com got in February? 50,000? 500,000? No, the total is 3,300,000! I used to read this site often because SLAM online would link to them. Anyway, they are claiming the following:
"And finally – yes, you heard this here first, too: There is something more to the story of the DMNews-blogger being banned from the Mavs locker room. And while the paper has turned itself into a martyr here, when the truth emerges, it will be interesting to see if the real story is covered with the same intensity as the first-blush story."
I wish I could hyperlink to the story, but I was unable to find a permalink for the story. Just search "blog" on their page, it's around 3/19 or so. Dallas Basketball has been a reputable site for a while. I'd suggest keeping an open mind on the blogger ban for a few more days and seeing what further news does come out of this story. They give a clue as to why the blogger(s) got banned on their page, but I'll let you find it.
And please do visit DallasBasketball.com! I dislike it if a blogger rips much of their post material from another site and then gives very little attribution in the post itself. I'm only posting this because I think not enough sports bloggers have read that info on their site (it was only one of several footnotes, so it may have been ignored).
Bill Simmons is Kobe Bryant
I recently realized that one of the reasons we judge Bill Simmons so harshly is how alone he is at ESPN.com. (That and he keeps trying to write about other topics than basketball...please Bill, that's your best sport! His columns improved as soon as the Patriots and Red Sox were done, am I not right?) Look at who used to write for Page 2--literary legends like Hunter Thompson and David Halberstam, or unique, already-respected voices like Ralph Wiley. When they died, they really were not replaced, and ESPN decided to go with numbers over quality. ESPN didn't even replace Dan Shanoff, to some extent. So no wonder we judge Bill more harshly now--he has no protection in the line-up over there. But it's Bill's fault too, in some ways; he's willing to be the big fish in the ESPN pond instead of one of several fish at, say, Yahoo!. Here's how I came to that conclusion.
Listen to the Bill Simmons podcast with Ric Bucher if you haven't already done so, especially around the 19:00 mark. Ric Bucher makes an analogy asking Bill what he would do if he had been Kobe Bryant. Ric essentially says the following: What if you signed a contract with ESPN with originally good writers around you, but then ESPN stuck you with low-quality writers and told you "you're our cash cow, deal with it, but we won't let you go" and you couldn't leave while watching Yahoo! get all these good writers? Bill laughed awkwardly and admitted this hits close to home.
This isn't my blog column, but imagine for a moment how sports blog history changes if ESPN would have fully funded Page 2 and Page 3 in 2005-2008 the way they did at the start. Would Deadspin and The Big Lead ever have gotten a foothold in sports blogging?