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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.

With the 19th pick……

Kurt —  June 17, 2007

With the 19th pick in the SB Nation (and friends) NBA Mock Draft, the
Los Angeles Lakers select Rodney Stuckey, guard from Eastern Washington University.

After considerable effort to make a trade that might mollify a certain cranky superstar, none of which came to fruition, we had to make the pick and went with the best player left on the board. There are questions about Stuckey because he played at a directional school, but scouts across the board think he can score consistently at the NBA level and is a combo guard in the Ben Gordon, Randy Foye mold. If he can score like that, there’s a corner for him in the triangle.

Sick and Tired

Kurt —  May 30, 2007

Power.

It’s all about power. The last few days of the Lakers soap opera has been about power, the power to control the direction of the franchise. The power of trust. Kobe’s power as the star player. Jerry Buss’ power as the owner. Jim Buss’ power as the heir apparent. Mitch Kupchack’s power. Jeannie Buss’ power. Jerry West’s power. Magic’s power. Phil Jackson’s power to try to bring it all back together.

And I’m sick of it all, weary of the four-year-olds fighting over the sandbox.

Any regular reader of this blog knows how I feel about the soap opera surrounding the Lakers — I despise it. I like it as much as I like the trend of flopping. I started this blog in large part because I wanted to talk about the Lakers on the court at a time all regular media wanted to talk about what Shaq thought of Kupchak and who Kobe’s wife was talking to at games. I just wanted to talk about the games.

And yet, in the last few days I got sucked into the front office power struggle made public, the “who is the insider?” soap opera. Certainly all this impacts the team on the court, but it’s still more General Hospital than NBA professional. And I feel like I need a shower just following it.

Is it really all that hard for Kobe, Jim and Jerry Buss, Mitch, Phil and anyone else in the loop to sit down in a room and talk? Is negotiating through the media really necessary? Don’t successful organizations have a master plan that everyone is aware of and working toward? Isn’t talking things out face-to-face what good managers and mature adults do? Not everyone has been mature, but now everyone is being immature.

These are the days that try fans’ souls. It is the kind of day that makes me question my fandom (which Dan said so well) and makes me question blogging about it all.

Kobe says he’s tired of talking. I think I speak for a lot of fans when we say we’re sick and tired of this whole situation, too.

Maybe it costs me a bunch of readers, but I’m stepping away from the edge of insanity for a couple days. Write what you want in the comments, but I’m done updating who is fighting for what part of the sandbox for now.

I hope that Kobe and the entire front office can get on the same page, start pulling in the same direction. Like Kobe says in his latest diatribe, I love the Lakers as a franchise and want to see it return to winning. Maybe that is without Kobe, although I’d prefer him to stay.

But the last few days made me queasy. And I need a break from it.

Commenting Guidelines

Kurt —  May 11, 2007

One of the beauties of the Web is the blend of diversity and community — the fact that basketball fans, Laker fans, from around the nation and the globe can get together and talk hoops. The community that has built up at this humble little blog the best thing about it.

And that community has grown — with the playoffs and a few higher-profile links, a lot of new people have found FB&G. Everyone’s welcome, you’ve added a lot to the discussion.

My goal is to keep the site fun, the smart tone going, and to have thoughtful discussions of what has happened and what could happen (or maybe should) with Lakers basketball and the NBA.

So, to that end, here are some “commenting guidelines.” There are no hard-and-fast rules, but if we can all live by these I think the discussion will remain at a high level. Here we go:

1) Don’t use profanity.
2) This is a basketball blog, keep the focus on the Lakers and other hoops — leave politics at the door.
3) The goal is discussion, so try not to make multiple comment posts in a row (that is a lecture, not a discussion).
4) The goal is not an argument — don’t start one or bait other commenters into a fight.
5) No personal attacks on other commenters.
6) We use complete sentences here, not ALL CAPS or short cuts u luv. This is not an IM conversation. That said, there’s no need to mock others grammar.
7) Talk of potential trades, ideally ones that have been reported as things team management is thinking of, is okay. Posts of fan fiction speculation on how the Lakers can land KG (or whomever) are not. (There is no shortage of other Lakers sites that welcome that kind of speculation.)
8) Try not to make the same point over and over, the goal is a ranging discussion.
9) Don’t drink and comment. We’ve all done it and it’s not pretty.
10) Basketball is a game; don’t confuse it with the really important things in life.

And have fun. That’s why we’re all here.