Hey audience. One month in, it seems like this could be a viable living for me, all thanks to you. I’ve written articles and had podcast discussions I wouldn’t have dared attempt in other venues, but you all saw me through. Anyway, feel free to share your thoughts on story ideas and anything else below. And if you haven’t already, subscribe today!
Would love something on internal Golden State front office dynamics, how much power does Bob Myers actually have? Do Bob and Steve have concern about the Lacobs influence on decisions? Is there any internal beef? Has there been a brain drain with departure of west and schlenk? Been really enjoying the sub stack, I hope you do some basketball focused podcasts here and there through out the season your takes on the nba are always enjoyable.
I really dug the last one that focused on the fall of SF and dug deep into Lacob and Ridder. Maybe being a Bay Area guy means I’m more interested there than your national readers might be, but honest looks behind the curtain should appeal to anyone. Reading what you have to say about Lacob and Ridder implies you’re willing to risk future access with at least the current W’s regime. Is it perverse that I want to see how far you’ll go in that direction to share stories that previously couldn’t be told?
I'd love to hear you interview a sports sociologist who focuses on the way terminology impacts fandom. For a while now, the casual fan/reader has seen the sports world bombarded with finance lingo when it comes to player contracts, roster construction, trade grades, etc. It's now commonplace and I'm guessing 80-90% of white sports fans don't have an issue with it, or even enjoy the front-office/fantasy GM angle of fandom/opinion/player-scrutiny. I'd guess it's closer to 50/50 when it comes to people of color following pro sports, due to the awareness of race-property-dehumanization.
I also think its become problem with the players who've bought into the myth of success being fine wine, watches, and golf. Listening to players I really like: CJ McCollum and Kyle Lowry, in an interview over the summer---the conversation turned sour for me when materialism and watches became the topic of feeling like you've "made it." And I'm not coming from a wealthy, exceedingly comfortable childhood. We clipped our coupons and bought our groceries on sale.
There's a conformist element to the "golf course" and "fine wine" angle that would be interesting to hear explored. Listen to Ben Wallace's Hall of Fame speech and you get a very different sense of what success meant to him.
Could just be my personal interest in this topic, but I've always been fascinated by what people actually do in certain jobs. You did that great piece a while ago about advance scouts — exploring the mundane nuts and bolts of what jobs like that entail in the NBA (and sports at large, could include media) would be really fun
I love your writing and the podcasts too. Keep it up and keep being a truth teller to empower. I love the insight and knowledge of behind the scenes NBA and the truth of the business and buddy buddy political stuff. We want more! fascinating!
We appreciate your honest analysis and critical thinking. Keep up the great work. Some of us enjoy learning something new/challenging beliefs.
I've always enjoyed your writing for the insight that you provide and this sub stack has been nothing short of excellent. I subscribed for the OKCIA piece and have thoroughly enjoyed everything else that you have written. The interaction between agencies, teams and the media is quite interesting to say the least.
We often talk about the Jordan Rules and how that term had a double meaning during Jordan's time in Chicago. I wonder what the LeBron rules are now and how much player freedom has increased. Michael Jordan was perceived to have a lot of influence as he could choose when to turn up for practice and did not draw the coach's ire whenever he spent all night gambling. For someone like LeBron or Kevin Durant, it does seem like they have way more influence but honestly it's not something I know a ton about.
The line about Warren LeGarie being a 'super-agent' for coaches was interesting, what are the politics at play within coaching circles?
I really enjoyed the SF article and the one about sports writing nowawadays. It’s always interesting to hear the weird details of these things. Would be interested in something about writer’s relationships with aggregators. Maybe it’s as simple as just disliking them but on almost every podcast I listen to now a reporter loudly announces that they are not reporting something before saying something interesting. Seems like a very difficult thing about the job now that you are very familiar with
We need uncompromised voices. Not being compromised is so rare; Apple says uncompromised is not even a word.
Would be interesting to delve into NBA policy on public health including vaccines. Can't lie, I've been incredibly disappointed by NBA media and their coverage of this. Many seem convinced they know exactly what to do and make the issue seem so black and white. Lots of shaming going around. In general, most NBA media seem woefully underprepared to engage on this topic with any of the nuance it deserves. Take the paradox that Wiggins (who is now the posterchild of the issue which is really sad for him) could be traded to Philly, still not take vaccine, and play in Chase center as a member of the road team, but could not do so as a member of GSW. Not exactly a coherent policy.
Can you write about the use of PEDs in the NBA. Derrick Rose said 11/10 players use PEDs. George Karl said many players use PEDs as well. There were rumours that LBJ took PEDs in Miami (http://www.sportsworldnews.com/articles/2774/20130605/lebron-james-steroids-miami-heat-star-implicated-ped-scandal-former-anthony-bosch.htm). Thanks!
I was wondering if you could write something on the topic of mental health?
Like what journalists and TV personalities in sports go through on a daily basis when covering their sports. On the outside, it looks like a fun job but on the inside, it's something we don't know about.
In light of the Simmons dispute this year, and the Harden & Kawhi ones in season's past, I'd be interested in your take on the futility of contracts in the NBA.
Consider how starkly different the Pippen-Bulls conflict as featured in 'The Last Dance' is to how this has been playing out now with Simmons, or with Harden/Kawhi/AD/PG(?) prior. Pippen was a (pissed off) 5-time champion with months left on his contract and he still caved to continue on with the Bulls.
You'll often hear the modern conception of 'player empowerment' attributed to LeBron's 'decision' but that feels reductive for the most part. Not to say that it doesn't have a connection or influence, but not only was 'the decision' was a decade ago, it was a FA move.
What were the steps between 'the decision' and Simmons publicly asking out after playing like shit, and most expecting him to have his way? Where does it go from here?
This feels like a new era where the concept of a contract has evolved into something completely different, where the only guarantee is nothing, but the closest most come to discussing it (if ever) is through the lens of whether Klutch is overplaying their hand, whether Simmons is soft, or, if Harden was deliberately fattening up in pre-season, or if Kawhi was actually injured in SA, etc.
All the agent stuff you have in your head we need to know.
Loving substack liberated Ethan! Question ...
How much of the NBA's player empowerment is driven by the ever growing chasm between the economic value of a star player to his franchise vs his capped salary number? It seems to me the emergence of player empowerment is directly correlated to the expansion of that chasm. How many suitors would KD/Lebron/Harden have in an uncapped NBA if their going annual salary was $65m? Wouldn't a large part of the non-monetary compensation(absolute veto power on personnel decisions, ability to ask for a trade on a whim, etc) currently being ceded to star players mostly vaporize? The number of teams bending over backward to lure a $65/year player would be a handful vs today, where 30 of 30 teams would take KD even with all of his empowered baggage. If there were no salary cap, would KD, Kyrie, and Harden be running the Nets? European soccer players who are unsubjected to caps are only as powerful as their ability to fish for larger contracts. This seems to confirm my point.
Furthermore, why is the impact of the cap never raised in conversations about player empowerment in the NBA?!
Former NFL players / talking heads are much more positive toward current NFL players than former NBA players / talking heads are toward current NBA players. I don’t think anyone can realistically refute this. Do you think this is the case because players don’t play both offense and defense? Tom Brady never shared the field with Peyton Manning and vice versa, whereas there are bound to be any number of “1 on 1” moments between two basketball players due to the amount of shared on-court time. Seems to me like it is easier for former NFL-ers to appreciate the greatness of the next generation of elite players because, hypothetically, they would never be the person specifically tasked with stopping them. Would love to hear your thoughts on this after reading your latest piece.
Have really enjoyed the stack so far. I majored in PR and worked three years with the athletic department’s media relations team when I was in school. Has been awesome seeing you pull back the curtain a little bit on how that operates at the professional level.
I'd be interested in something about mid-level players & endorsements. I remember Matt Bonner(?) was endorsed by New Balance for awhille & he was the only one until Kawhi/Darius Bazely I think. Like what's the value for the sponsor? How hard do mid-level players fight for endorsements? What's the market for endorsements? How has it changed?
It would be very interesting to read your thoughts on the current opinion gatekeeping going on between the media and players. It is strikingly relevant to your previous article on how the media seek to prevent “preference cascading”, although more interesting since it now seems to be media vs players.
We love you perspective and hope you will consider a guest spot on Good Faith Effort podcast, contact email@example.com to find out more.
Hoo-boy. Ethan – time to study up on Oppositional Personality Disorder ..
Would be interested in the connection between the G League and the NBA - particularly the careerist pursuits for both the players and the staffs. More niche, but have heard Santa Cruz Warriors and the parent club historically haven't been in-sync - curious how that can be the case, or how common that is around the league.
Would also be curious what personnel executives think of Overtime Elite and G League Ignite, as well as what general around-the-league POV on Ignite given it's costs and NIL breathing new life into the college game
Would love an update on the NBA-China relationship. And why China can't seem to produce a lick of talent recently when the NBA (and NCAA probably) would desperately love them too.
I’m interested in how Rich Paul and LeBron are looking to buy the Lakers or Cavs after LeBron retires. Feels like they were initially keen on the Cavs (coming back and saying he’s not going to leave again) and then realized the Lakers might be gettable. Rich Paul is a genius so wouldn’t surprise me if this is their strategy