With a mix of sadness and pride, I am shuttering SheridanHoops.com — the Web Site I founded in September 2011 and which published daily through five NBA seasons.
I come from a family of journalists, and there is a level of disappointment that comes from deep inside me. You only get one or two chances to do something truly dynamic in life, and assembling a crew of veteran NBA writers — mixed in with several younger go-getters to produce quality basketball journalism — was driven by my passion for the sport and for my craft.
But the journalism/publishing industry is constantly changing and consistently challenging, and if unexpected circumstances intrude along the way, altering your ability to devote 110 percent of your time and energy to your business, it becomes unsustainable. That is what has happened here, and the passionate fans of basketball who frequented this site are now left with one less outlet to disseminate news and opinion.
But I am walking away with my head held high, and here is why: No journalist had ever done what I did, along with my dedicated staff. We were an independent news outlet that competed with the media behemoths. We broke the biggest basketball news story of this decade — LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. And we broke with the contemporary mold and strived to appeal to a demographic ranging in age from 9 to 90.
The LeBron James scoop is not the only legacy of this site. We published 9,856 articles by 154 different authors, many of them veterans of the basketball journalism industry, several others who are navigating their way into this business.
It was a fun run.
I have been a journalist since I was 21. I have 30 years of experience in the business — a quarter century of it covering the NBA and international basketball — and I hope to land on my feet somewhere down the road and continue pursuing my professional passion.
What’s important now is thanking the people who made this Web Site possible, especially members of the staff who are passionate journalists and deserve opportunities to continue in this business for years to come.
But first, some words of appreciation.
I will start with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who has been supportive of this venture from the get-go and was a regular reader. Without the assistance of Adam and two key members of his staff, Tim Frank and Mike Bass, we would not have been a fully credentialed site with the same level of access granted to companies such as ESPN, Yahoo Sports and so many others.
Same goes for FIBA executive director Patrick Baumann and his media director, Patrick Koller (along with Patrick’s predecessor, Florian Wanninger). I have known all of them for several years, and their assistance in credentialing SheridanHoops for several international tournaments — beginning with Eurobasket 2011 in Lithuania and including the 2014 World Cup in Spain — allowed us to take readers behind the scenes of several major FIBA tournaments that most mainstream media outlets in the United States choose to ignore.
Shoutouts also go to founder Gregg Winik and his staff at Cinesport (now OneUp Sports), our video production partner; Larry Axelband and the folks at DraftKings, whose support for this site’s mission was unwavering right through our final day of publication; and Jeanette Lukasik, Jeetu Chawla, Moksha Fitzgibbons, Russ Bengston, Ryan Westbrook and Taylor Korsak of Complex Media, our advertising partner.
But the primary drivers of this site were the regular contributors, the people who wrote weekly columns, edited our content, managed our staff and devoted countless hours to the storytelling that made this site special. My wish is that all of them move on to new jobs in the industry, continuing to bring their wisdom and insight to readers and viewers around the world.
CHRIS BERNUCCA: Our managing editor and regular Monday columnist, I can tell you in all sincerity that there is almost no one in the U.S. basketball media with Bernucca’s level of passion for the sport and diligence in understanding it and explaining it. Aside from managing our staff and providing direction, guidance and mentoring to our younger writers, Chris consumed himself (as he always has, from his days as my colleague at the AP to his later stops at SportsTicker, DPA and other outlets) with the NBA. The man has read every box score and game story that has been published over the past three decades. And no, that is not an exaggeration. His mix of intelligence, wit, sarcasm and basketball IQ is unmatched by anyone I have ever met in the business — and I have met just about every heavy hitter with a laptop and a notebook. Whether he moves on as a coach (his other true passion) or a columnist, he will always be informative and inspirational. Here is his column archive, and it comes with a warning — you may find yourself binge-reading some of the most astute commentary and analysis that has been published since late 2011. Send him a shoutout on Twitter at @ChrisBernucca.
JAN HUBBARD: The man who wrote the NBA Encyclopedia … literally. Jan is unique in that he has worked both sides of the fence; as a mainstream media member for Newsday in New York, along with the Star-Telegram and Morning News in Dallas/Fort Worth. In between, he spent eight years working at NBA headquarters. Privately, he can tell you stories that he would not be comfortable publishing, but he can also pull stories from the past that no one else can recount. He is an author (we published excerpts from his book on the history of the San Antonio Spurs), he is a gentleman, and he comes from an era in which sportswriters and basketball players existed on a much more cordial and friendly level. One example from Hubbard’s archive is his story about trading Larry Bird in a fantasy league and then recounting that particular trade to Bird. Any media organization seeking a sage/mentor/poet should scoop him up. On Twitter he is @whyhub.
JIM PARK: He was our Tweet of the Day/Tweet of the Night maven, he supervised our staff of young bloggers and he lost countless hours of sleep staying up late on the East Coast to watch his beloved Golden State Warriors, whose 2015 championship (along with Stephen Curry’s MVP award) he astutely predicted in our annual season preview column. I was able to bring Jim a champagne cork from the Warriors’ locker room the night they ended their 40-year drought and won the title in 2015, and my hope going forward is that I can help him find a job recreating Tweet of the Night/Tweet of the Day for another publication. It was one of the daily articles our readers most enjoyed — especially this one from J.R. Smith when he was still with the Knicks. Interested parties can e-mail Jim.
SHLOMO SPRUNG: Our analytics expert, Shlomo put together charts and graphs that perfectly illustrated the point of his columns — all of which were informative and a breezy read, not the easiest thing when you are dealing with sports’ new higher science/math. He can do things with a computer that most WordPress designers cannot even accomplish, but he also knows how to work a locker room and bang out an on-point column without having to be overly analytical. He is writing now for thecomeback.com, and I recommend you check out his most recent column on Five Storylines to Watch for in the 2016-17 season. Also, do yourself a favor and follow him on Twitter.
MICHAEL SCOTTO: ESPN.com and The Vertical had chances to snatch him up over the summer, but neither outlet quite recognized they had a chance to snag the next great newsbreaker in the NBA journalism world. Mike is now doing his thing for Steve Kyler at Basketball Insiders.com as Kyler continues to operate just outside the mainstream in putting together a formidable lineup day after day after day. Kyler’s only mistake with Scotto was not inking him to a long-term deal. Over/under on number of times Scotto outscoops Adrian Wojnarowski on trade stories between now and mid-February is 5 1/2. Personally, I am taking the over — not because I don’t have faith in Woj, a certified genius, but because I know how hard Scotto works his sources … and how a lot of folks in the league want to see who will become the “next Woj.”
There were so many other writers who contributed on a regular basis who also deserve shout-outs. Hall of Famer Mark Heisler was with us from the start, retired NBA center Danny Schayes came along for the ride for a few seasons (and wrote the most detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the one-and-done rule that has ever been published), Jon Marks in Philadelphia, Peter May in Boston and Paul Ladewski in Chicago/Oakland were old pros who were always eager and enthused to take on a new assignment, and Ben DuBose in Houston, Jeremy Bauman in Chicago/New York, Chris Silva in Oklahoma City (he wrote the best Kevin Durant profile ever), Kels Dayton in New England were the same way — minus the 30 years experience of the others; Joe Kotoch was especially prescient with his Mock Drafts and his networking skills; Moke Hamilton (also scooped up by Kyler) was a sponge when I mentored him during this site’s infancy, Bobby Gonzalez was a jack-of-all-trades whose best columns were identifying the strongest NCAA teams and the most underrated NBA talents, A.J. Mitnick and Nick Gibson kept us abreast of Euroleague developments, Guan Weijia, Jon Pastuszek and Marco Cantazaro filled in our readers on what was happening in the Chinese Basketball Association, Peter Newmann, Max Ogden and Dan Malone found different ways to bring us the latest news and notes from around the league, Jack Scheurer had a nice run as our trivia maven, Brian Geltzeiler was gung-ho when we were broadcasting SheridanHoopsRadio, Adam Zagoria covered recruiting better than anyone, Jake Henson brought a unique voice on the basketball gambling industry, and last but not least, Kent Williams was a superstar in giving out daily fantasy advice.
Again, it was a fun run; But unfortunately, we are done. (Hey, a rhyme.)
Thanks again to everyone who dropped in occasionally or regularly.
I will see y’all down the road.
Every ending is a new beginning.
A spry 51, I am far from finished in the journalism industry.
Chris Sheridan is a veteran NBA writer for the Associated Press, ESPN and SheridanHoops.com, Follow him on Twitter.