David Lee, soon-to-be Bay Area media darling (via a.yfrog.com)
Just wanted to share my experiences from Monday at the Warriors' inaugural Tweedia Day, which allowed ten bloggers to attend Media Day. Overall it was a great experience and something I'll never forget, as I'm sure rookie NBA players never forget their first Media Day. Everything was tightly coordinated and things were happening at a blur's pace.
When I arrived at the scene with about a half hour to spare before things got busy, a most wonderful thing happened. Someone knew me by my first name. That turned out to be Ben Chen, one of four people on the Warriors' PR team. Turns out, Ben noticed the www.dreamleague.org on my polo shirt and mentioned his sister Cat, who was one of our superstar scorekeepers not too long ago in our Oakland league. He and the receptionist gave me a name tag, a nice blue Warriors folder and media kit, and into the practice facility I went.
One thing I noticed was the list and schedule of interviewees. Each player would get thirty minutes for interviews, then it would be a giant game of musical chairs. I tried to make a mental note of when certain players would be available, but as I would soon find out, that would prove futile.
A bunch of setup happening before Media/Tweedia Day gets started. (via a.yfrog.com)
Since I run basketball leagues, the first thing I had to check out was the floor. Quite nice. I did notice that the three courts side-by-side ran into each other -- I guess there won't be any tournaments being held there anytime soon. I wonder why that is, the three-point line of the far court merging with that of the middle court. There's probably a good reason, but if not, you've got to wonder why Cohan couldn't have spent just a little more for a few extra feet of floor space.
If you've ever been to the Warriors practice facility, you'll see that it is indeed, quite show-off-y in terms of all the old logos and uniforms in the "rafters". There's also a bunch of names listed by years, saying what player accomplished what. For example, under the 2010 header there's Stephen Curry and a mention of the Rookie Challenge.
Curiously, there was a gap between around 2005-2007. I guess we had some dark times here at Golden State during that tenure! I mean, the bar is not set that high in terms of accolades. If the same standards were used to decorate the Boston Celtics' practice facility, it would take a week to read everything.
Still, the place is really just immaculate in terms of a basketball facility. In the picture above, there's a weight room underneath the scoreboard, which leads to the locker room. Being a hoophead, I could probably live there.
Anyways, when I walked in, to my right were a bunch of sets -- lighting and cameras and such -- made for TV shots. They left the lights out on that side of the facility for this, so it was kind of dark over there. Workers were testing microphones and where players would stand, as well as the cue cards and such.
Assistant Coach Stephen Silas was the first one they had in front of the TV cameras, one of which was for the Warriors Weekly segment. They gave him some quick-hit one-word question and answers. For example, "Texting or calling?" and "Twitter or Facebook?". He was a ways away, so I couldn't really hear him, and the questions were going by too fast while I was getting acclimated to the camera app on my new phone.
Since Silas is not on Twitter (to my knowledge), you have to assume he picked Facebook as his answer. (via a.yfrog.com)
In the middle of the court was where they had the Keith Smart press conference earlier in the morning. I missed that, unfortunately. Also, that section would not be used at all for the rest of the day. Most everything was done in the quarter section of the facility near the weight room. There were five or six roundtables where players would sit and talk to the media.
Not long thereafter, the players started leaking out through the weight room and to their obligatory first stations for the player photos. Seeing those beautiful home white unis the first time was pretty cool. I have no doubt the Warriors will be ranked as having the nicest jerseys in the NBA.
Warriors come out decked in their white unis. (via a.yfrog.com)
Reggie Williams also started grabbing the Warriors mic and interviewed his teammates. I don't think it was planned, but the Warriors' PR team certainly was more than happy someone was livening up the atmosphere. Reggie having some fun would be a recurring theme throughout the day.
While I was caught up in the whirlwind, Monta Ellis appeared at the center round table with familiar traditional media members such as Matt Steinmetz. It was very difficult to hear what Monta was saying, so I literally had to stand next to him to hear the questions and answers.
Most of the questions centered around whether or not he could co-exist with Steph and, quite frankly, I could have answered those, i.e., the answers were very predictable. Monta often referred to the issue of a starting backcourt as small as theirs having to defend a bigger opposing backcourt.
He was asked if he had indeed paid for Steph's birthday party, which he confirmed. Overall, Monta said that last year's Media Day was filled with tension and this year's seemed new, joyful, and exciting, especially with the new uniforms.
At one point one of the senior writers (I'm not up to speed with my names and faces) asked Monta something to the effect of, "At what point last season did you get your head back in the game?"
Monta responded with, "I'm not going to answer that," to which Steinmetz sneered -- wait, he's always sneering -- and came to Monta's defense, saying something to the effect of, "That's like asking him if he cares about the game." (Again, it was very, very difficult to hear, so if someone out there's got a more accurate account, please let me know. I'm sure the entire interview was caught on tape somewhere. The point being, Steinmetz, sitting right next to Monta, seemed eager to be on Monta's side during the whole interview.)
Steinmetz parks himself right next to Monta. (via a.yfrog.com)
For me, since I've never met Monta in person, the biggest observation I had was Monta's size and frame. I almost want to say that his blazing speed and hops probably emits an aura that he's "got NBA size", but if you saw him in the distance walking down the street, you wouldn't think of his build as anything extraordinary.
He's always been listed at 6'3" and I'm now highly doubting that. That being said, I think when all is said and done, Monta has to be considered one of the all-time greatest "small" players ever, a la Allen Iverson. A normal-sized freak of nature. I see guys all the time in my league who are around 6'1" or 6'2". Some of them have the everyday look that they are ballers. Monta, not so much. It amazes me what Monta can do on the court in that body frame. Unbelievable.
I wanted to hear everything Monta had to say, but things were starting to get repetitive. I looked around and saw a small mob of reporters forming at Steph's table not too far away. As I approached him and leaned in to hear what was going on, sure enough, he was answering questions about him and Monta.
Steph gets asked similar questions. (via a.yfrog.com)
At that point, it occurred to me that one of the things GSoM'ers had wanted me to ask Monta was if he had gotten that tattoo with the new Warriors logo on it. When I looked back at Monta's table, he was gone. Oops. I decided that I wasn't going to miss out on any other interviews, so rather than try to listen in on what Curry had to say, I looked around the room to see who else was at a roundtable.
Over at the table nearest the weight room was Vernon Goodridge sitting all by himself. Literally just sitting there. I decided to go over and introduce myself. After all, after closely following Jeremy Lin's last two years at Harvard, I've developed a keen interest in how rotation players are able to make the NBA their livelihood even if they are not superstars.
Goodridge, a 6'9" power forward, explained his path to the NBA. He had graduated from LaSalle University and was taking some online classes to finish up around April, as most collegians with a shot at making basketball a career do. He then went briefly to the Dominican Republic to play some pro ball. After that brief stint, he went back to Philly and had a tryout with the 76ers. He got picked to play on their Summer League team (which took place in Orlando), then had a good showing where he blocked some shots, then he got picked up by the Warriors.
I'm pretty sure I was the only one to have asked Goodridge a question. (via a.yfrog.com)
Then David Lee came out. He drew what I think was the largest crowd of the day. And, in stark contrast to Monta, he was very passionate about answering every question. He'd go into a lot of detail, too. I'm sure the interviewers were quite pleased with the whole back-and-forth. One of the few things that I caught was that he loves the city life (who wouldn't, after spending so much time in the N-Y-C) and he'll be making his residence in San Francisco. Very good choice, sir!
Lee simply came across as a very articulate, mature, well-seasoned NBA vet. If you've spent any time listening to NBA players talk, believe me, Lee will soon rank way up there as one of your faves. The only other guy I can remember off the top of my head being as deep as Lee is Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns.
After the big-shot traditional media guys were done with Lee, the Taiwanese TV crew that came up from LA snuck in there and asked him about Jeremy Lin. Lee said that Lin was like a little brother. He confirmed that Lin had not been scrimmaging with the team, due to a sore shoulder. (Yes, GSoM commenter's question answered!)
Chinese/Taiwanese reporter asks David Lee about Jeremy Lin. (via a.yfrog.com)
As it turns out, that was Michael Murphy of Northside San Francisco Magazine, a monthly publication, sitting there next to Lee. Later at the post-event meal, Murphy told me he would probably be doing a feature with David Lee for his next magazine write-up.
After the Lee interview, things quieted down and that's when Jonathan Joseph came by and introduced himself as one of the nine other bloggers who were invited to TweediaDay. He mentioned that he didn't represent a Warriors blog per se, but was doing research on how social media was changing the sports industry.
He would actually be the only blogger to have introduced himself, but maybe that was because my nametag wouldn't stay stuck on my super-awesome dri-fit Dream League polo shirt. A couple of times the nametag dropped on the floor and I had to carefully peel it off the hardwood. In hindsight, I should've left it there so that the next day, Steph could be dribbling downcourt in a scrimmage and go, "What the heck is @poormanscommish?"
This time, looking around, I spotted not one but two players sitting by themselves at the same table Goodridge was at earlier. They were Jeff Adrien and James Mays. Adrien quickly went off on his merry way, probably wanting no part of any additional interviews (and a 1-on-2 interview was not standard Warriors Media Day protocol).
Mays said that his path to the NBA from '08 at Clemson went through the Denver Nuggets training camp, where he tore his Achilles tendon, to China, Puerto Rico, and back to the Toronto Raptors summer league roster.
Next, I caught Reggie interviewing David Lee this time. At some point, Reggie had asked his Warriors media people if it was okay to keep doing it, and they were like, "Keep going, keep going, this is good!"
Reggie Williams takes over the mic. (via a.yfrog.com)
Things had really died down at that point. All the power media hitters like Steinmetz had long since vacated. I took a moment to think about how I might get that Monta tattoo question answered. A quick survey of the scene revealed him in the opposite corner, doing more holidays-related photos and what-not. I would have to wait for an opportunity to pop the question. Meanwhile, I was trying to track down Reggie Williams, but he was busy interviewing teammates randomly in various parts of the gym.
Alas, Monta was done and while walking back to the other side for yet more picture-taking, I managed to sneak in my attempt to find the truth!
"Monta, did you get any new tattoos?"
"There's been talk that you got one of the Warriors logo."
"Yeah, I got that."
Um, okay. So, assuming he's telling the truth or didn't forget, the logical conclusion is that yes, he does have a Warriors logo tattoo, but it's not a new tattoo. Maybe his definition of "new" is different (the logo's been out for, what, three months?).
The few strides with Monta then led me to Steph, who was doing some photos with his gold medal from Turkey.
There's gold on them thar chest! (via a.yfrog.com)
Spinning around, I could see a posse of Chinese reporters (I'm sure they would rather be called Taiwanese, but as it turns out, my own parents are from Taiwan and we all think of "us" as Chinese, so let the political flaming in the comments begin) surrounding Jeremy Lin's table. I didn't even bother going near that. Been there. Done that.
I did get a chance to chat more with Ben, who was waiting at the perimeter of the table for the Lin interview to conclude, and direct him to the next stop. I mentioned to Ben that no one had shown any interest in interviewing guys like Goodridge, and Ben acknowledged that that was always something they were concerned about. Ben also mentioned that there was some good grub waiting outside in the hallway.
More interesting to me was the fact that only one person was interviewing Brandan Wright. Here was my chance to cross off another question on the GSoM commenter checklist. When the person was done, I sat down and introduced myself.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad was your shoulder injury from Summer League?"
"It was only about a 6."
"How is it feeling now?"
"It's still a little tweaked, but I'd say I'm at about 95%."
Mission accomplished, GSoM peeps!
Brandan Wright says he's 95% healthy. (via a.yfrog.com)
After saying goodbye to Brandan,my stomach growled at me, so I headed outside for the wonderful soul food eats catered by Chef Edwards BBQ. On my way out, where Stephen Silas had been to start the day, was Reggie Williams putting colored M&Ms in cups, for WarriorsWeekly.
Reggie Williams forcefully segregating a community of M&Ms against their will.
After he was done with that, the Warriors TV people asked him to pull as many tissues as he could out of a tissue box in a minute. Steph had apparently been holding the record all day. I immediately got my snazzy new cellphone out, complete with HD video recording...and made the dunce mistake by not hitting record. I'm sure you'll see it on a Warriors broadcast sooner or later, but along the way, Reggie could be heard saying, "It burns!" in reference to his arm muscles.
From the adjacent TV set, David Lee yelled out, "Go, Regg!" and was curiously not wearing his jersey top. That reminded me of a tweet I had seen earlier in the day where Jeremy Lin was caught saying, "You really want me to take my jersey off?" I'm not quite sure what the Warriors media guys have in mind, but I have a feeling that feature will involve several topless Warrior players.
When Reggie finished off the kleenex box, he raised his hands in triumph, only to find out there were still more tissues in the box. It remains to be seen if he beat Steph in that contest.
Look at the mess Reggie Williams left!
Shaking my head in frustration with my camcorder operator malfunction, I looked back at the facility and marveled how a four-person PR team regular pulls off this gigantic game of musical chairs, year after year without a hitch.
Next year, I plan to come armed with some more pre-planned oddball questions that the GSoM community and I absolutely need to get answered (I suspect that Monta and tattoos will be a recurring theme). I'll be able to do a lot more research on the fringe players and can engage with them more on their college careers and how they made it to the NBA, especially when no one else wants to talk to them.
Also, I should say that the time elapsed was approximately three hours, and much of my time was spent tweeting and waiting for photos to upload to the Internet. As such, I wasn't able to take shot after shot after shot.
I also learned a little bit more of the difference between bloggers and traditional media. Here are some thoughts:
- Traditional media: Interviews with superstars, big questions. Bloggers: Everything else, small questions.
- Traditional media: Assumes what fans want to hear. Bloggers: Let fans tell them what they should ask.
- Traditional media: Big, heavy, obtrusive equipment. Bloggers: The smartphone, can be tweeting anytime.
- Traditional media: Fancy production to be broadcast soon. Bloggers: Tweets and blogposts, instantaneous to 48 hours.
- Traditional media: Who said what? Bloggers: What was it like being there?
Don't forget to catch IQofaWarrior's linkfest for all the obligatory big-name-star's quotes and such. Here's some content from the other invited bloggers:
- Fear the Beard at Warriors media day/TweediaDay 2010
- WarriorsCourt.com: Thoughts and Impressions of Warriors Media Day
BayAreaSportsGuy.com: Andris Biedrins: "No spikes, no goose" (I completely missed AB's interview)
- Sportology.us: Golden State Warriors Social Media Marketing Efforts Ahead Of The Curve
- bgoodell's photo stream
- Warriors.com: Media Day Interviews
NOTE: All of the photos and videos in this article were taken by me.
Thanks to Raymond Ridder and Dan Martinez for the invitation to this unique event, and of course Atma Brother ONE and Fantasy Junkie for allowing me to represent Golden State Of Mind.
And thanks to you for reading. For more rants on anything basketball, catch me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/poormanscommish.