For fifteen years, we compiled the links of the day and dumped them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Sorry to sucker you in with the headline. This is not my 500th post for Red’s Army. There were quite a few posts that came before we migrated to our current platform. But since those posts have vanished into the ether (they might be visible on archive.org, I haven’t checked), this is my 500th post in the same way that Red Auerbach’s victories before the NBA merger don’t count towards his overall win total.
It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable run. So much so that I can’t remember when I started. I don’t know the year; writing for Red’s Army has just become part of who I am.
Chuck and John have been incredibly easy to work for, and if the pay wasn’t great, it came with a much appreciated freedom to write whatever I wanted.
I always felt free to bring in analogies and examples from widely divergent fields. I once compared the Celtics to a Ferrari, and on another occasion I compared the NBA’s Orlando bubble to a closed set in topology. John and Chuck gave me that license and I’d like to think that the comparisons worked more often than they didn’t.
I’m a lifelong fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In a very early interview, when the show’s creator was asked about its obscure jokes and references, he replied, “We never say, ‘who’s going to get this?’, we say, ‘the right people will get this.’” Red’s Army offered its writers that freedom. I never felt that certain subjects were off-limits, that I had to dumb down my writing to generate clicks, that I had to be anything other than myself.
Heck, Chuck and John even let me plug my alma mater’s basketball programs on days when the C’s news was a little thin. Although after one plug, I did get a short and to the point email from Chuck ‘suggesting’ that I take a break from referring to the Jackrabbits.
Having to write two posts a week, regardless of whether there was much to write about helped me become a better writer. And I’d like to think that as I became a better writer, Red’s Army became a better source of analysis.
Along the way, I also learned how to be a better writer by reading the work of exceptional journalists. C’s fans are, frankly, spoiled by the number of first-rate journalists on the team’s beat. However, my ‘must-read’ list starts with Tom Westerholm. When he and Jay King were at MassLive, it made my job as a writer almost too easy. If I needed to write a dump, I could just grab the top articles on MassLive and run with them.
Both King and Westernholm are pro’s pros. If you want to learn how to be a journalist, start by reading the stuff they write. But between the two, and maybe it’s just personal preference, I’ve got to go with Westerholm. King is a fantastic sports journalist, but I think if you took Tom out of his element and had him, say, write a story about riggers on a deep sea oil platform, he’d kick out something that would be worth reading. What I’m trying to say is, Westerholm is a story-teller, and if I’ve learned to be better at telling stories myself, it’s because I’ve read a lot of great stories in the course of writing for the blog.
And I need to give Terry Vandrovec a shoutout. I mentioned him a few weeks back and got a ping on twitter. The guy’s got a job working for a local health system, and has no reason whatsoever to keep reading my stuff, but I’m still on his must-read list. That makes me feel good because he was an absolute professional when it came to writing, and he was the guy who convinced me that I could—and should write.
I’m not one for creating highlight reels. I always hope my next article or post or whatever will be better than the last one. But there have been some pieces that stick with me, regardless of how popular they were with readers.
I think all of us enjoyed working on the retired numbers project.
By choice, I took a lot of the Celtic greats that so many people (even Celtic fans!) seem to think weren’t that great: Guys like Satch Sanders and DJ, Ed Macauley and Bob Cousy (every time I see some wet-behind-the-ears ‘fan’ make fun of Cousy for the way he brought the ball up the court I have to bite back the urge to reply: ‘IF YOU DIDN’T DO THAT YOU WERE CALLED FOR TRAVELING OR PALMING THE BALL’–yes folks, there was a time when you couldn’t even put your hand on the side of a ball, much less get a step and a half to ‘gather’ it). But I got to put my heart and soul into the piece on Reggie Lewis, and that might be the piece I’m proudest of: The one that I want people to read, regardless of whether they’re basketball fans or not.
If you’re this far along, you might be interested in what I’m doing next.
The answer is… I’m not sure.
I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and even if that wasn’t an obstacle to moving up to a beat gig with press credentials, my writing interests are too varied to make me want a fulltime assignment writing about the Celtics. And, frankly, Chuck and John have spoiled me. I’m not sure I want to write about the Celtics if I can’t compare the regular season to the 24 hours of Le Mans.