Editors Note: In the coming weeks, WarriorsWorld’s Jesse Taylor and Jordan Ramirez will be engaging in numerous topics, most pertaining to the Warriors, some not so much. Jesse has been working within the NBA realms for decades while Jordan is in his first year as a credentialed media member. These conversations will be conducted in a back and forth format for your enjoyment (or disdain).
Jordan: Alright Jesse, this is the first in what is hopefully a long series of back and forth’s. Let’s start with some introduction on to who we are and why the readers should care what we have to say. They say age before beauty, so explain to the readers how you were involved with the NBA.
Jesse: It was all a dream / I used to read Warriors magazine
Sleepy Floyd, TMC up in the Oakland scene
I grew up a Warriors fan, but my NBA involvement began in college when I took a female friend to a Sacramento Kings game at Arco Arena. I could only afford upper-level nosebleeds, but I saw these guys in suits walking around the court and I pointed down to them, telling my lady, “I want to be one of those guys.”
Thanks to the Sac State Career Center and my resume ending up on top of a big mail pile (boasting Ace Hardware and Raley’s for experience), I was lucky enough to get an internships in the Kings’ PR department. I worked two seasons for the Kings (1996-98), one with the Heat (1999) and three with the Warriors (1999-2002). I may hold the sports PR record for worst winning percentage. My only winning season (with the Heat) ended on a brutal Allan Houston series-winning dagger. I then moved on to keep losing, this time to Nike, when I took a job with Reebok.
How about you? Like me, you started young in the sports business world, but you came in through a different door.
Jordan: Wow, you came out with guns blazing with the lyric. I feel like I should counter with something just as creative, if not more. But instead I’ll just leave you to ponder a few lines from one of my favorite songs of 2013:
I’m tired of hearin’ ’bout who you checkin’ for now / Just give it time, we’ll see who’s still around a decade from now / That’s real
I knew what I wanted to be in the sports business world in high school. I was just starting to realize what I was interested in, what my strengths and weaknesses and what I would enjoy doing the rest of my life. I didn’t like math, I instead liked words. English and the arts always drew me more than math and even sciences. I loved reading and I — unlike a lot of my classmates — looked forward to essays, write-ups anything I could get creative with.
I loved sports. If I wasn’t playing them I was reading about them or writing about them. There came a point in high school where I realized I could combine both what I loved in school and what I enjoyed outside of it into a career. At that time I didn’t realize how tough it was to find a lane into the industry, I just knew this was the business I wanted to get myself into. My dad being an attorney, seeing him work long nights and drowning himself with what looked like excruciating work was something I wanted zero part of.
I wanted to travel, I liked to write and I loved sports. Combining all three would be a dream come true. So, naturally, I began blogging about spots in my free time. Football, basketball and baseball and even boxing were topics I touched on. One day, I tweeted one of my articles linking Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to the career of LeBron James. The folks behind WarriorsWorld saw my tweet and I was offered a part-time position with the site soon thereafter.
After sending in numerous articles, some months later I was brought on full-time and given posting power just weeks after that. After blogging about numerous sports for awhile, I quickly decided to focus on basketball. The WarriorsWorld platform was a great landscape to start out with, and I made sure to get out as many quality posts as I could. While I was posting, I was also reading and understanding how to write about sports. I looked to Ethan Sherwood Strauss, another WarriorsWorld writer at the time, and locals such as Tim Kawakami and Marc Purdy to give myself a better idea on what it takes to succeed in this part of the business.
After being with the site for two seasons I was able to apply for media credentials to national events. My biggest event being All-Star Weekend last season in Houston. I had previously attended NBA Summer League’s on behalf of WarriorsWorld, but this was on a whole different level. I had only attended one NBA game before heading to Houston for All-Star Weekend, a regular season matchup against the Charlotte Bobcats after Ethan couldn’t make it to serve as my sole game experience.
I was extremely blessed to have that opportunity in Houston and never take it for granted. Later that season I was able to attend Warriors playoff games as they welcome additional media members for the postseason. I was quickly learning the ins and outs of Oracle Arena, media etiquette and the various protocol that comes with being a credentialed media member. It was equally fun as it was challenging. I had to suddenly balance being a lifelong fan of a team into being a stern, emotionless member of media row.
As a 21 year-old, this wasn’t the easiest adjustment.
I’m still a fan, and while this is a forbidden declaration in the field of sports journalism, that’s the beauty of WarriorsWorld. This isn’t a national outlet, it’s a fan-site and forum for everything Golden State Warriors. As this season came, so did the opportunity to attend more games, as Ethan Sherwood Strauss was picked up by ESPN.com to write for TrueHoop. I was now awarded the WarriorsWorld credential, attending games whenever I could for the remainder of the season.
That’s where I stand now, attending as many games as I can and continuing to adapt to my surroundings as well as improving my writing and comprehensive skills. #FullSquad happening this season, which was/is a blast. I’m putting all my musings on some form of social media and keeping all these credentials on my wall, as I do with every credential I’ve ever had. I never want to forget how it all started and where I am now.
Started from the bottom now we here.
By the way, my answer to your question was way too long. While we continue this series don’t be afraid to tell me when to wrap it up. That also happens to be one of my favorite bits from Chappelle’s Show.
Jesse: Wrap that shit up, B!
I once kept all my credentials too. Then year after year, they slowly got tossed in the trash bin. I think I threw two of them away in the year it took me to read about how you got started in sports writing.
There’s a portion of WarriorsWorld readers who would like to get into sports writing or sports business. As someone whose memory is a little more fresh than mine, do you have any advice for them?
Jordan: Cold world. I can’t blame you though. I did the same thing on the last podcast. I got into a long tangent on why the Warriors offense was in trouble and two minutes later the studio lights were off and my co-host was sleeping. Not a good sign when your own show falls asleep on you.
I’m not sure my memory is that much better than yours, I don’t remember what I had for lunch last Friday, but thank you. I got extremely lucky. I was writing my own blog, checking how many views each post got eagerly hoping they would increase as the days passed. I have Twitter to thank, as the folks behind WarriorsWorld would’ve never known my blog existed without it.
I’m a big proponent of quality over quantity. There are very few writers — at least in my short experience — that can match high quantity with high quality. I wouldn’t encourage posting a high volume of posts if the writer knows they aren’t to the best of his/her abilities. I wasn’t posting every day, but when I did post I wanted them to be really good (at least in my eyes). If you can write well, you will get noticed. And with Twitter, a simple linkage or tweet is all that is needed to get noticed.
The opportunities are there. But what do I know, I’m only 22-years old.
You still awake?
Jesse: I was actually caught up in your soothing soliloquy on Mark Jackson that put everyone to sleep on the podcast.
My advice to would-be writers is to read. Reading for writers is like jumping for a dunker. You can’t dunk without working on your vertical. And not just stuff on Twitter, which can be a sneaky time suck if you’re not careful. You should always be finishing a book and looking ahead at the next one. I also recommend “On Writing” by Stephen King for every aspiring writer.
We’ll talk hoops at some point in this series right?
Jordan: What puts viewers to sleep quicker: my soliloquy’s on the podcast or Mark Jackson press conferences?
Good advice on reading as much as you can. I spend most days waking up, checking Twitter and favoriting a bunch of articles that I plan on reading later. I grab a coffee and just sit and read all of them. Anything from sports, music, movies and sometimes politics. I tried reading Stephen King’s It once and got tired in about 13 pages.
Since this will be posted on a Golden State Warriors blog, let’s try and talk some Warriors. You mentioned Mark Jackson, is he the main problem with this team?
Jesse: It is a classic. Back in junior high, this kid did a book report on It. He presented in front of the class and described a sex scene from the book in great detail. Brought the house down and I immediately went to the library and grabbed the book.
I wouldn’t call Mark Jackson the main problem, but like Klay’s post-Hooters shooting slump, Iguodala’s disappearance, a lack of aggression from Barnes and Lee’s injury/missing mid-range jumper, it’s part of the problem. I think he actually cost the Warriors a game or two by not playing Bogut in the fourth quarter. The lack of minutes he gives to Draymond Green impact the team negatively. He’s hurting more than he’s helping.
The team is underachieving, so he’s got to take some blame, right?
Jordan: I was into Stephen King for those a few weeks, but in middle school I always ended up going back to John Grisham, Battle Royale, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Bill Simmons or the sports pages.
He takes a lot of the blame in my eyes. You said it, he has cost the team games. Elite coaches don’t do that, and too often have we noticed these bad rotations, lack of structure on the offensive end or missing the needed substitution in games. You can’t blame him for Iguodala’s hamstring injury, Lee’s ailing shoulder, Jermaine O’Neal’s wrist, Mo Speights or the paltry bench, but he gets all the blame for the avoidable mistakes.
He’s now in the midst of his third year as a head coach, and we’re still complaining about the basic fundamentals of coaching. He’s absolutely changed the culture of this team, and the affect he’s had on the development of Stephen Curry goes largely unnoticed. But, at what point does the talent outweigh the coach? I see a Top-5 starting lineup but am staring at the 6th seed in the Western Conference. He can’t receive all the blame, as Klay Thompson’s streakiness and the halting development of Harrison Barnes isn’t on him. I just can’t go but a few games without wondering if this is the coach for the long-term or a stopgap in between a bigger name coming in.
Jesse: By the way, I must confess i’m a no excuse basketball blogger who will make no excuses for anything written in this series. At the end of the day, it is what it is.
At the end of the day, we just gotta compete when doing this series. We can’t come into this thinking it will be good just because we showed up and we’re lights out writers. We’re trying to create a culture here and it’s a culture of hard work. We have some great guys that have bought into the system. We’ll be fine.
Okay, I think we better wrap this shit up, B!