Hello audience. So I wrote about dynamics within Klutch, and enjoyed doing so, but I could tell that some readers wanted another kind of story on Klutch’s NBA media influence. It made me wonder: What other stories on the media do readers want? Happy Labor Day Weekend, podcasts coming next week...
Absurdity of primary broadcast partner also being the primary purveyor of league news. Is this all soft kayfabe?
[With any HGH wink-wink arrangement being part of the kayfabe since it's becoming increasingly difficult to build and scale superstar brands that _endure_ so NBA gotta extract from existing for as long as possible.]
Are Woj's scoops on contracts nothing more than attempts to elevate certain agents who then use the same information they fed him to sell to prospective clients?
If there exists a Klutch-/Lebron-media-mafia (to borrow from Russilo-Simmons), what of the Jordan/NC/Boomer-Xer media mafia? How much of all this is just manufactured by Nike since 2003?
Id like to see reporting on the rise of sports gambling. It seems like a bunch a rich people wanted the law changed so it magically became legal. The media seems to care more about advertising money from the gambling companies rather then covering how the corrupt the gambling legalization process appears to be.
It feels like there is an agenda in everything that is written in corporate media today. In your experience are the decisions made by individuals expected to drive a certain agenda by executive decree? Who makes the decisions and why there is a perceived would make an interesting inside article IMO.
NBA ratings are on the decline (or at least plateauing)… but the next TV deal in 2025 could be TRIPLE the already lucrative deal. So what’s up? Why would the media entities pay such a steep amount?
(And, how will players making something like $80+ mil a year impact the product on the floor, if at all?)
What you’ve already done regarding ESPN, CAA and Klutch has been awesome. I’m also genuinely interested in how people in established media see the future for themselves while having to compete more and more with alternative sources of content like yourself and the rest of substack but also player podcasts, YouTube channels, Reddit etc... it has to be taking eyeballs away from them right? Or is the ecosystem just getting bigger and everyone can kind of fit in?
And frankly, most of us probably don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes in media which makes it hard to even know what to ask. So continuing to reveal things that nobody talks about and the fans probably don’t know would be great.
In your article on the Rachel Nichols saga, you mentioned the connection between ESPN and CAA in passing, could you provide your insight on how that came to be and what that means?
Was out over the weekend but wanted to throw this incredibly niche topic out there:
Would love a retrospective on the evolution of largely white NBA blogs/twitter that started with fetishizing certain player behavior that leaned on long-held stereotypes (think of how Gil, Javale, Waiters, JR Smith, Boogie were discussed online and in pods from like '07-'15).
This patronizing devotion morphed into an absolute reframing of players as a monolith of aggrieved labor, often ignoring player's agency and the CBA in decision making (the bubble was a great example of NBA twitter/media weirdos proclaiming they cared more about player safety than the owners despite players overwhelmingly voting to play).
Besides being paternalistic and reeking of white guilt, it ignores the fact that players have more in common with lifestyles of owners than the actual labor of the NBA (stadium employees, ticket sales reps etc.)
Love the substack thus far
I'd love to see something on how the prevailing sportswriter bias went from always siding with owners to always siding with players, and what you think of that.
I’d like to learn more about this whole sports cards monopoly that has arisen and how fanatics did it
For a long, long time ad CPMs (rates) were falling. But, now they are rising again. Could ad-supported long-form journalism (SI, Grantland) make a comeback? Or are all the institutions who would sponsor it too inept, obsessed with subscription model, don't believe the eyeballs would be there, etc.?
I admittedly click on occasion, but I'd be interested in your perspective on those who monetize both sides of the debate through intentional divisiveness. They seem to be going for both the loyal ideological followings as well as the vitriol of the opposition that simply can't resist engaging. The two that initially come to mind, one on each side, are Clay Travis and Dan Wolken.
Not sure if you’re able to talk about The Athletic but would be interesting to get your long view on their business vs traditional outlets and newer ones like substack.
I’d like to know which talking heads at ESPN and elsewhere say things they don’t believe in order to get views. And if it makes them more successful than those that are true to their thoughts.
Why has the lebronification of the Nba (total media focus of everything through the lense of lebron, to the detriment of all current and future stars) been such a failure ratings wise. Additionally, any info on the behind the scenes machinations that are pushed to maintain his narrative?
Other readers probably mentioned this here and also last week, but the way different media outlets and personalities reacted to the entire NBA-China issue is fascinating - who defended LeBron, who parroted the Chinese government (with an assist from Joe Tsai), and who felt they could actually criticize China, and why.
Also, and this may be a bit broad, but there are plenty of things that nobody writes about, or writes about well. What are some of the less obvious topics that are considered taboo for reasons other than lack of fan interest (other than PEDs, sports agencies, referees, owners and such)?
When/why did reporting begin the transition from team/game based analysis to focusing more on individual players? People tuning into, say, a Mavs game these days wouldn't know there are 9 players on the court other than Luka
What do we lose when reporters are younger, inexperienced and lack historical perspective? How can media outlets get that back?
Digging into the nuances of why NBA players, from Kevin Durant to Kevon Looney, have AAU teams? Is it all part of the same recruiting tactics first established by Sonny Vaccaro? Is Nike and adidas relying on KD & Harden respectively to recruit the next great slate of players to their brands through a promise of brief exposure to their favorite superstars through the AAU circuit? And if so, what’s in it for KD & Harden? Is it strictly financially motivated? Seems like an obvious benefit for the shoe brands and a less obvious benefit for the established players who lend their moniker.
On the Dan LeBetard show, when Amin Al-Hassan and someone else were talking about Rachel NIchols, Al-Hassen said something about Woj stamping his foot on careers of Black reporters. I'd like to know more about that, and more broadly, I'd love to know how Woj has become so powerful.
Is it fun to be a sportswriter anymore? I've heard from a few friends that given the current climate it's not really that fun to be a TV writer anymore. How has being a sportswriter changed, I know you covered this a bit in the first post, but would still be interested to read.
The one media thing that I'm surprised no one is talking about is Sinclair buying up local broadcast rights for most of the league and then pulling those channels from post-cable platforms like YouTubeTV et al in a contract negotiation. I don't think I've seen any real coverage of it as I assume it doesn't really affect media members who are obligated to have those channels, but a lot of normal people were blacked out from local games last season.
Write something about the competition between Woj & Shams when it comes to breaking news.
You have said a few times that people are now talking to you more directly now that you are on Substack. Can you elaborate on why that’s the case? Is it due to constraints you had from your prior bosses at ESPN, The Athletic, etc? Or is it more due to other factors like the content or the platform? If you’ve experienced constraints that you didn’t think made sense, it would be great to understand those dynamics.
I’d be interested in how local media interacts with teams. Sometimes I watch press conferences with Bill Belicheck and there’s this weird vibe with who asks the questions and the angles they take. I’m sure a lot of this is Bill being autistic but there’s obviously a love/hate symbiosis there.
Compare those media interactions to, say, how UFC fighters talk with the media. My suspicion is there’s something structural there with the power of teams, players unions, coaches, and leagues have. Maybe that’s worth unpacking? Or it’s just a subset of the conventional media versus newcomer media.
I don’t know but most reporters ask dumbass questions and there must be a rational explanation for why that makes sense for everyone involved.
Buy-outs, and by extension, the pliable nature of player contracts in the NBA.
Seeing a breakdown of starting 5 by team and what players are associated with which talent agency. I don’t believe the Lakers & Klutch is a one off. Also aren’t their rules about players owning part of an agency?
I am a Miami Heat fan. They put an enjoyable product on the floor consistently. For years now they harp on ‘Heat Culture’. Every time I hear this propaganda I think, am I rooting for a cult?
Does the rest of the NBA community view the Heat as a cult?
How will legalization of sports gambling across (presumably) all states lead to changes in coverage, media rights deals, and enforcement?
Do you envision that more emphasis will be placed on betting outcomes in syndicated broadcasts? (ESPN2 sometimes has the gambling simulcast, but that's the most "mainstream" I've seen).
What can reporters do, or how can they ensure, that any partnerships with sportsbooks are transparently covered? How will any of those team-related relationships be covered and regulated?
Is the NBA putting any further protections in place to ensure that relationships with sportsbooks are limited to off-court activities, or off-limits for currently active players?
I would be interested in something examining how so much of the focus of NBA discussion by media and fans has shifted away from the actual games and towards everything else around the game rumors, free agency, etc. Along with that, how the NBA can leverage that monetarily when their primary income source is from the games themselves. The NBA makes their money on the games, but those are fading more and more into the background of NBA discourse.
For example, I am an avid NBA fan, but I find myself increasingly becoming less interested in the average regular season game. Due to feeling like it means less and less each year, and also tuning into a game between two good teams only for a star player to be either injured or resting. It feels like this is also common among the NBA friends I know. I personally would love to see the NBA go to a schedule of only playing twice a week because we would get well rested teams with games that have a lot of meaning.
The NBA in the south. It hasn’t been successful, yet the NBA seems stubbornly committed to markets that are indifferent to their product. Even a franchise like the Atlanta Hawks struggles to draw fans and TV-viewers despite a long history, competent management, favourable demographics, and theoretically a couple generations of fans. You assume with these types of factors, they would have one of the best fan bases in the NBA.
You said how Jerry West was very pessimistic about the NBA in the south after his Memphis experience. I am curious why the NBA media is unable to share the observations given how close they are to seeing it.
Would be interested to see more on Woj wielding power within ESPN, particularly bc there was something going around about how the various folks who were laid off had crossed him at on point or another (I think you were included with that, but I can’t recall).
Would also be interested to read something on the news breakers who in some ways seem like they couldn’t be further from the game, whether it’s from understanding strategy or having contact with players.
Would love to understand how you see the future of sports media. For years, ESPN and Sports Illustrated owned quality sports media (the broadcast networks pretty much abdicated this to others awhile ago). There were many smaller outlets but those were primarily the two you made a point of reading/watching. Now they’ve both gutted what made them special. Everything is scattered, which isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just hard to find quality sports reporting and writing. And so little of it covers all aspects/teams of a particular sport. Also, does it become totally personality-driven — I like this reporter/commentator and follow them?Example to illustrate both questions (not really asking): where does Rachel Nichols go from here? ESPN was her platform, there isn’t another as influential for her to go to now. Will someone start a true alternative? What do you project?
The LeBronaganda effect.
Call em all out
Viability of small markets and is there really a fix? Seems like all the stars have to align for small market teams to win.
What is Klutch?
I would be interested in whether the mobile books will become the sole place to watch your NBA games in the future? They would be free but instead of a sub fee for your streaming outlet you would need to register for the gambling app.
stories on the corruption in the business of sports!!!