Archives For Site News

We’ve got some new friends here at Forum Blue & Gold, and I think you should meet them.

This site has struck a deal to have most of its content at both Lakers Nation — the meta Lakers site run by the former Get Garnett guys — and with them on the Web site for 570 AM KLAC, the Lakers flagship station and home of the Lakers in Southern California. Lakers Nation is just that — a nation, home to its own blog, its own message boards and its own social-networking system (ala Facebook).

What that means here is that you will see more connections to Lakers Nation and 570, things that will grow as we get closer to next season (and after a redesign of this site planned for later this summer). Both sites offer some interesting things that I think people here will like. And the stories here will be seen both at Lakers Nation and at 570’s Web site.

While this means some growth, there will be no changes to what the core of this site is about. We will do in-depth (hopefully smart) analysis of the Lakers and NBA news. The commenting policies on this site will not be changing. The goal is to expose what we do here to more people, but we are not changing who or what we are.

What makes this site special, what makes the growth possible, is the community here. Bottom line is you people make my day, and make my thought processes about the Lakers far more informed and fun. Protecting the integrity of that community remains goal number one. But I don’t think that precludes growth opportunities.

So go over and meet the new friends at Lakers Nation. They’ve opened up new message board forums today and they are large and growing community with which you all have at least one thing in common — you’re all Lakers fans. And that’s a good place to start a friendship.

You Like Me

Kurt —  April 24, 2008

You really, really like me.

Seriously, I am touched to have won the “Sixth Blogger of the Year” (best team-focused blog) in the Hardwood Paroxysm recent NBA blogger voting. Especially when I think of all the fantastic blogs I read and think, “Man, I wish I was that good.”

This little site has grown into a fantastic community, where I serve as caretaker and conversation starter. But it is the community that keeps me (and I think many of you) interested. So, thanks for voting for me.

PS. I am so going to rub this in Ziller’s face.

sixthreadersfbg.jpg

Blogs, Credibility and the NBA

Kurt —  February 18, 2008

Sparked by emailed questions and conversations with people in the business of NBA information, I’m using the All-Star Break to look at some bigger picture questions about NBA blogging. Today’s topic: How credible are blogs? And how NBA teams are dealing with them?

It’s the first question asked about bloggers, the first charge thrown out by those criticizing something written on a blog — what makes this person credible? In the case of an NBA blog like this one, why put any credence in what I write? What other NBA bloggers write?

I asked that question of Clipper Blog’s Kevin Arnovitz and his answer matches my own thinking — obsession-compulsion combined with the ability to work the TiVo rewind button. I’ve said before I could never do this blog without my DVR. Plus I went to the old John Wooden Basketball Camp for two straight summers as a kid, so that should count for something, you’d think.

Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty (and AOL FanHouse) gives better-phrased version of a more common answer I often give:

What qualifies me is the same thing which qualifies the newspaper’s beat writer or the national columnist: I watch the games. I pay attention to what the players and coaches say. I understand the league. The great thing about new media and especially the blogdome: It’s all meritorious. We’re obligated to read the beat writer’s take (especially in one-paper towns), we have to go through him or her to get the info. You don’t have to read the local team blogger. If you do, it’s because you appreciate what they do and gain something from it. Having an audience, that vindicates your opinion, I think.

The Lakers have some great beat writers in guys like Mike Bresnahan at the LA Times and Kevin Ding of the OC Register. But you don’t have to go through them to get the information. You don’t have to take their word for what Phil Jackson or Luke Walton said after practice. Instead, you can go to Lakers.com and watch the video posted of those interviews after practice.

And in a world where there is more access like that, fans are looking for something different when they read up on a team. That’s at the heart of why Arnovitz said blogs are both credible and popular.

Blogs are filling a vacuum with more concentrate in-depth analysis of the team. Beat writers suffer from the constraints of their media. Once upon a time — before Tivo, before the internet — if you went out to dinner at 7:30, or had an evening class, or worked nights, then you missed the game. When you got out of the restaurant, maybe you’d be lucky enough to catch the score on the radio. Otherwise, you’d have to call a friend, get thirty seconds at 11:28 p.m. on your local news, or wait for the thwack of the paper on your driveway the next morning. The sports section was the only place to get any detailed description of what happened, and for that, it had intrinsic value. But these days, you can get a live box score and even a play-by-play rundown of the game instantly. By the time the beat writer finishes his recap, the dedicated fan is already informed of the game’s general narrative. If he saw the game live or on television, the beat writer doesn’t really add anything other than a pat quote from a coach or a couple of players. What the fan wants to know is *why* the defense fell apart in the second half. Who was slow on the defensive rotation? Why did the zone fail? How did the opposing PG manage, time and time again, to penetrate without resistance? But the beat writer can’t do this — or isn’t allowed to, or doesn’t care to. The rare exceptions are pros like Brian Windhorst at the Akron Beacon-Journal, who does a stellar job of breaking stuff down. But most beat writers either can’t or refuse to inject the kind of subjectivity that would elucidate the game for the loyal fan.

I think in Los Angeles, for all the media attention paid the Lakers are given, that vacuum of analysis is seems even larger. Outside of Frank Burlison at the Press Telegram (who spends the vast majority of his writing on high school and college) there is precious little insight onto the Xs and Os, the analysis of the NBA game and players. The soap opera is the focus — not a shock for a bottom-line driven media where drawing a large audience is all that really matters at the end of the day.

For the readers, from what you said when I asked you, credibility is something is earned. And in today’s crowded media marketplace, that is true for the columnists at ESPN or the NY Times or the LA Times as it is for bloggers. Commenter Underbruin summed up many commmenter’s thinking when he wrote:

I feel that trust can be earned pretty quickly. When I read a site that makes a fair amount of sense in its visible front-page posts, that gives me a good reason to believe it’s worth at least coming back to check out again. I don’t feel specific institutions such as print media automatically deserve more or less trust than a blog. If anything, they sometimes have financial concerns that make them less trustworthy because they have to keep in mind that the team is their ‘meal ticket,’ so to speak.

Clearly readers did not equate with credibility was access — it wasn’t handed out with media passes.

Still, getting some of that access matters to many bloggers, both for what insights might be gleaned being that close, and as a matter of respect. But teams are not sure how to deal with bloggers, and the level of treatment varies from city to city. Golden State has been receptive to bloggers (of course, Golden State of Mind has put together events that helped fill seats, and money always talks).

One interesting event has taken place the last couple of years in Atlanta, where the Hawks hosted a “bloggers night.” For one night, bloggers of the Atlanta Hawks (who should be pretty happy the last few days) got a chance to sit in on press row. Micah Hart, manager of Websites for the Hawks (and Thrashers of the NHL) explains the night and adds some perspective.

We have done Blog Night the past two seasons (and once so far with the Atlanta Thrashers, with their second night still to come). My rationale for doing it is with a team like the Hawks, we lack for national coverage because we have been so bad the past several years. I/We want to get more people talking about the team (good or bad), so I am hoping that by doing these kinds of activities it will inspire more of our fans to take an active interest in following the team.

I thought both years Blog Night was successful. In terms of how we decided who to invite – last year we basically cast a wide net, inviting any local bloggers (hawks-related or not) to come out and join in. This year, we were a little more selective, but that’s more because there are more Hawks bloggers out there now. We had about 10 people each year, which I thought was a pretty solid turnout. And, most importantly, the amount of posting these bloggers have done on the team seems to have spiked afterwards, which is really what we as the team were hoping to get out of it.

In terms of access, the Hawks have been pretty careful about doling it out. The bloggers were invited to listen to the coach’s post-game presser live, but not ask questions. Also, as it turned out, I got to take them into the locker room to talk with Al Horford, which I think everyone got a huge kick out of.

I don’t think you’ll see us giving credentials to bloggers any time soon, but that’s a PR decision, not a website one…. I do think it will happen in time as blogs become more mainstream.

Brian Kamenetzky from the LA Times Lakers blog has season media passes (which he puts to good use) and he adds some thoughts to this:

Some teams are more progressive than others in terms of recognizing the role of the blogger, though I understand the need for quality control. In terms of providing regular access, it does make sense for teams to be discriminating in which outlets they’d let in. Not all sites are created equal. It would be smart, though, for teams to differentiate between those independent sights with a well-established readership and reputation for quality content and provide access to those writers.

I have not personally ever asked the Lakers for access or an interview (other than questions sent to Ty Nowell, the guy who oversees content on the Lakers Website). There are really two reasons for this. First, this is still a hobby to me, I have a family and a job that take priority in my life. I can’t skip work to go to practice, I’m not going to go to a ton of games whether I have a pass or not because those are nights away from my kids.

But the second part is this: What can I do with a pass that would add to the insight of this site? Going to practice, scribbling down the same quotes as everyone else and putting them up here with some witty commentary is not adding to the understanding of the team or the game. We’ve got good beat writers doing that already. What I picture doing is more stuff like the Henry Abbot True Hoop interview with Kurt Rambis, which gave some interesting insight into the triangle and the Lakers thinking. (Although, I would have had to ask about growing the moustache back.)

As passes become available to bloggers, we need to ask ourselves how we are using this passes. What are we doing that is different and special? How do we not become like the media we think is often lacking?

Maybe as long as we’re asking those questions, we stand a better chance of keeping our credibility.

What’s The Deal With Blogs?

Kurt —  February 17, 2008

Sparked by emailed questions and conversations with people in the business of NBA information, I’m using the All-Star Break to look at some bigger picture questions about NBA blogging. Today the post talks about the growth of NBA blogs and why people are reading them — and a lot more of you are reading them. Tomorrow, the topic will be credibility of blogs and how NBA teams are dealing with them.

I’m amused now when I read a coach or media columnist (or politician, for that matter) say “the bloggers are doing X.” Because, from where I sit, that is as broad a statement as saying “all Californians are doing X” or “all white males” or whatever. With NBA blogs, the community has become too large and too diverse to pigeonhole

There has been an explosion in NBA blogs in the last few years — part of the overall explosion in blogging on the Web. But why so many NBA blogs in particular (on the heels of the same trend in baseball)? LA Times Lakers blogger and SportsHubLA founder Brian Kamenetzky points that the nature of the NBA fans has helped fuel that:

First, the NBA demographic tends, I think, to skew a little younger, with an audience that’s more into using new technology and new forms of communication to talk about sports and basketball in particular. Obviously, too, the popularity of the league is incredibly high right now, too, which helps.

Another point that Sactown Royalty (and AOL Fanhouse) author Tom Ziller points makes is that several NBA blogs and bloggers are now getting paychecks from the “mainstream media” — Henry Abbot’s True Hoop, which started as an independent blog and is part of ESPN, leads that way — and that has helped bring attention and key links to NBA blogs.

But that is a very diverse group of bloggers that readers are finding in those links. All bloggers really have in common is software Ziller adds:

‘Blog’ has become a method of publication more than a style. Certainly, something like Wizznutz is different than D.C. Sports Bog or Bullets Forever or Gilbertology. All the same subject, all the same software (at core). But the styles define the purpose, with is certainly varied.

And that plays into what a lot of you told me when last week I asked my readers where they get their NBA news and why.

The first thing that struck me is just how long gone the days of people having one or two sources of information for basketball are. Virtually everyone gets information both from the analysts on televised games and key NBA sites (Yahoo, ESPN, or local papers) and with alternative sites, like blogs. Brian P. summed it up well:

I basically hit anything everything up to soak up what people are thinking and I like to come here and watch people discuss those same ideas. In the end I make my own opinions with the multiple insights I get in addition to my own and I am content.

People also were drawn to the community of sites, a place where they can “converse” and learn from other fans. The size and tones of the communities on the various Lakers sites varies considerably, and that provides options for people of different tastes

Finally, there seems to be a craving for things less seen in mainstream media. For perspectives not considered “tinged with the negatives that come with the big sites,” to quote Kamenetzky. Certainly, these were questions asked of readers of this site, where people come because they like/are curious about new hoops statistics and a more Xs and Os breakdown, so the answers to the questions are going to be a bit skewed. But I think there is a reason that Kevin at Clipper Blog and this blog have had some success — for all the coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers (and Clippers) there is precious little hard on the court analysis. There’s plenty of national and local media who seem to love the soap opera of the LA teams, but few breakdowns of plays and players.

So fans come here. Or read Dancing Barry and ask questions at Lakersground. Or go to the guys at Lakers Nation (formerly Get Garnett). Or read Kelly Dwyer (somebody give the man a full time gig!). Or search out what David Thorpe says at ESPN.

I think that blogs are finding a lot of niches that existing media find hard to fill or keep up with. Henry Abbot’s True Hoop has success in part because he loves the game but doesn’t gloss over the warts (to borrow his phrasing). Traditional coverage tends to take a magnifying glass to the warts, skewing toward sensationalism first. Some blogs do that too, certainly.

But you can’t pigeonhole all blogs that way.

Getting Your NBA/Lakers News

Kurt —  February 12, 2008

Today, I want to ask you a few questions. And for a change it is not about on-the-court basketball or front office moves. (We’ll be back to those topics tomorrow.)

Rather, it’s about where you get your NBA/Lakers news and information. And, how you evaluate the options out there. The reason I’m asking is for a post that will go up during All-Star weekend talking about blogs, their role in NBA coverage, and what is driving their popularity. I’m sending emails out in the next 24 hours to a number of bloggers as well asking them questions, but what really matters is what and why you read what these bloggers write, and who else you read.

For example, this site has never been intended as a Lakers news site — my assumption has long been that by the time you come here you know the results from last night or about things like Chris Mihm needing another surgery. The goal here was to provide some analysis and a place for a thoughtful discussion of those issues.

Certainly all blogs do not follow this model (nor should they). And we all get information from multiple sources, going to other sites to hear other views. Or talk about rumors and potential trades.

So, here are my questions, please answer in the comments:

1) Where do you go to get your NBA information? What sources do you use: television, Web sites, print media? Which ones? How many games do you watch a week?

2) How do evaluate what shows/sites/writers you go to and trust? For example, do you give a working beat writer a certain amount of trust automatically? What about a columnist/analyst for a major newspaper or publication? How do you determine which blogs and fan-based sites do you read?

In the case of the Lakers specifically, where do sites such as Lakersground and Club Lakers fit into the mix? What about sites like the LA Times Lakers blog?

Some quick ground rules: This is not about slamming a particular writer or site, but rather me trying to get a better understanding of how some fans get and digest their NBA news. Let’s be civil. I’m fine with you using a writer’s/site’s name to hand out praise or to say you don’t read/like their work, we all have our tastes and preferences. What we’re going to avoid is “I don’t read X because he’s an idiot.”

Tech problem…

Kurt —  January 21, 2008

I suddenly seem to be without all my posts from 2008.

Trying to figure out what just happened and repost my Nuggets preview to start.

UPDATE: Everything is back and up again.

True Hooping It Up

Kurt —  December 26, 2007

I’m the guest host over at True Hoop today while Henry goes on a four-day bender spends time with his family. I’ve already got a post up on Andrew Bynum’s coming out party.

No posts here today, we’ll have something tomorrow. No promises on quality, though.

All Is Right With The World

Kurt —  December 6, 2007

And not just because the Lakers got a quality win on the road. This may be the best news for fans of good NBA news in a long time — Kelly Dwyer has a blog.

KD is a friend of this site, and one of the most insightful and clever NBA writers out there. SI.com had him and didn’t know what to do with him, classic old media stuff. Now he’s blogging like the madman he is at Yahoo and, trust me, you’ll feel smarter after you read it.* Yahoo is making some great moves lately — they are going to be a major blog player sooner rather than later.

(Also, local blog news, LAists’ Tony Pierce going to the LA Times is a great smart step by the big paper to get in the modern game. I hope the older guard listens to him.)

*Bearing on actual IQ scores unknown. Studies have been inconclusive.