I was 21 years old, in my junior year of college in a beach town that was ten hours away from the Bay Area and utterly confused about what to do with my life. I watched about seven hours of hoops a day, pored over some tacky foreign relations textbook every five weeks for an essay that hinged on Google Books excerpts, and spent too much time napping at the beach. It wasn’t depressing. Then my girlfriend at the time, coming down to SoCal once a month and annoyed that I was once again eyeing a meaningless Nuggets-Wolves March regular season game instead of her, jokingly remarked, "you spend so much time in front of that thing, why don’t you actually do something about it?"
A week later, I walked into the journalism room, took a gig there writing about social, economic and local issues in the San Diego area. Several months later, after a couple internships here, my own crappy blog site there, lots of cold calls and e-mails to accomplished writers that went unanswered (except Ethan Strauss, to whom I am forever thankful for advising me against journalism school), a throwaway application to SBNation’s cache of team sites, I received an offer while celebrating the Giants’ second title.
Golden State of Mind would give me a chance to write for their site. I had no writing experience, zero sports blogs to reference from, and less confidence to attempt an imitation of anyone successful. Everything would have to be myself, unfiltered, and mentally unready for it all. I was ecstatic.
A little over a year later, due to some blind luck, and a convenient geographical landing spot, I came back home and GSoM provided me a chance to cover the team using their credential to create a much more defined sense of writing, blogging, coverage, and relationship-building. I went from grinding out analytical video breakdowns and statistical points to crafting a narrative and building a story that pulled the reader in, hopefully, and allowing you all a glimpse into the atmosphere and emotions in that arena every night. By 23, I was putting everything else on hold, working a part-time job and praying this would end up somewhere, anywhere.
The dream was alive and I felt even more fortunate when Mark Jackson provided words and analysis for us to fill several seasons. Then Steve Kerr came along, everything coalesced perfectly together, and again, I was there to write as I went, learn as I go, and crash and burn as I pleased. I would read the comments, other writers, dedicate myself to how old school reporters would write on games comparative to the more opinionated ones now. I still don’t know how to start or finish my pieces. I guess I don’t really know where I’m going with this. Ain’t that some déjà vu s***?
I started to watch games differently, enjoyed the schematic movements off the ball, adapted the game-to-game mindset of a coach instead of a fan, and gradually started to accept the totality of wins and losses as a certainty rather than a hopeful result. When writers and reporters tell you that one gets jaded covering a team for a long time, it isn’t so much an erred emotion as an expected progression of coverage.
Though due to some bad fortune, my own financial struggles, and a thirst that has since evaporated of a real writing job, I turned down an opportunity to graduate school to chase this dream. It hasn’t gone as planned, but I will never regret chasing the utopian hypothetical that all started with an innocuous question from four years ago.
Since I started at Golden State of Mind, I owe all my growth and experience to Nate Parham, who has mentored and held my hand through this entire unknown process. I owe thanks to Seth Pollack who provided me a chance to cover this team in person and learn the inner workings of an organization. And most of all, I owe my growth and everything I wanted to gain from sending that first stray application, to all of you that bore with me (though you didn’t really have a choice) as I became the writer, blogger, reporter, and person I have today. No matter where I end up now, I will never have the first formative years as a writer, and this type of experience, ever again.