Sports writing is a tough business
Eric Koreen was part of the cuts at National Post, and though I’m sure he’ll find gainful employment soon enough on account of his talent, it goes to show how tight the online news market is. When talented and proven journalists are casualties of declining ad revenue and corporate mergers, it’s a sad day for sports writing. The basic problem is that sites (and newspapers) tend to rely on ads for too much of their revenue, and with the rise in ad-blockers and competition, things are getting tight. The web produces too much content than what can reasonably be consumed, and there are simply too many cooks in the kitchen serving up the same dish.
As someone who has been writing about the Raptors for well over a decade, and doesn’t have any interest in getting a job as a sports writer (I’m an IT consultant, thank you very much and don’t ask me to fix your router), I’ve had the benefit of casually observing the landscape without any stake in the outcome. I mean, sure, it’s nice that we get to pay our staff a dime or two and have sexy parties once in a while, but if this all goes south, I’ll just go open a wordpress.com account and start bitching about Terrence Ross, and I couldn’t care less if anybody reads it or not.
What I do feel needs to change for sites like Raptors Republic to continue functioning at a high level is to not rely on ads at all. I truly do want to personally apologize to every single reader that they have to suffer through the ads that they see on this site. They’re distracting, useless, click-baity, and get in the way of a good read. At the same time, they’re necessary to keep the ball rolling and produce content at the rate we do. In fact, we’re going to try and give Patreon a try and see if we’re able to muster up enough revenue to keep rolling.
So, if you’re inclined, pledge something and if we meet our goal, we’ll kill the ads. Promise. If you’re a millionaire, just pay the whole damn bill and I’ll send Blake over to shovel your driveway.
I commend newspapers like the Sun for having a paywall because that’s the right thing to do. If you produce good content, the people will hopefully come and pay a buck for it, and you’ll be able to support your staff and run a reasonable business. The problem with the Sun is that they’re producing the exact same content as everybody else, so there’s literally no reason to pay for it. They’re printing the exact same Dwane Casey quotes that I can get from the Raptors YouTube channel, a Doug Smith game recap, or <insert media outlet>. So, why exactly would I shell out the cash?
I subscribe to the Economist because I know that I’ll get quality writing on a diverse set of subjects written in language that isn’t over my head, and it’ll make me feel sort of smart and allow me to talk shit at those sexy parties. And it’s cheap. That’s a good trade for me. The Sun, though? Again, I admire the approach but the content isn’t just at the level where it needs to be. I would say that this piece by Gavin MacPherson is something a mainstream writer rarely produces, but here you’ll find that sort of quality around the corner for free (well, maybe not in this post). Something isn’t right.
The work of quality craftsmen like Koreen needs to be appreciated and rewarded, much like we do with Zach Lowe, and seeing it fall victim to accountancy practices is a damn shame.
The All-Star voting is over
It ended with Drake posting an Instagram endorsement of Kyle Lowry which counted as one single vote. WTF? On last check, Lowry was 30,000 votes behind Kyrie Irving who was getting blown out while fans were clamouring to Twitter to try to get Lowry in (BTW, awesome banter from the Raptors.com official account). There was no tweet from Drake or Justin Bieber, who let us down again. My theory is that Kyle Lowry is going to start because Drake would’ve known whether he needed to tweet or not. That guy is on the ins and probably knows who killed JFK.
Someone sent me the following analysis of this whole situation, and how it cost Kyrie Irving money – email posted as-is:
Yesterday, @unboxtherapy started a drive giving away iphones to get votes for kLow (seen on espn website). By one estimate if his first tweet didn’t count, the counter came in close to 37-40K, if both tweets counted closer to 80K in votes.
Additionally, by the end of one total nba vote tally Klow was behind KIrving by 10K, then by next vote tally by 30K [400K(Irving)-370K(lowry)]. If the growth totals follow a linear relationship, then the next tally (this last one) might have Klow behind by 50-60K based on a purely linear growth profile, but we know lobbying for votes did occur.
If for some reason this @unboxtherapy dude succeeded in getting Klow in, the ramifications are the coaches would have to vote KIrving in and I’m feeling that based on 13 game appearances many coaches would probably give the nod to KLove than Irving. Also, I’m betting there are other players in the conferences who played the entire 40 games more deserving than Irving. What does this mean? It means unboxtherapy may have resulted in KIrving not making the allstar game and the $7million supposedly in his contract to make the all-star team.
This was a massive thing that happened and I don’t see any articles anywhere pontificating on the ramifications. Maybe you could throw something out there in the way of an article.
Personally, I love the handles of Irving but the guy is injury prone since college and others have done the work to deserve the spotlight. It would be cool if Irving got knocked out because it might force the nba to revisit a better system of voting cause uncle drew felt some pain.
Sure, why not.
Unlike the NHL, who wouldn’t know what marketing is if it sat on their face, the #NBAVote campaign has had the desired effect and engaged fans at a never-before-seen level. How do I know this? My dad tried to vote and fell victim to the auto-correct, and ended up voting “#Nobody Karl Lowery”.
The only reason I still believe that coaches should vote everyone in is because All-Star games are considered a major achievement when evaluating a player. Though there are All-NBA teams, nobody quite remembers who made what which year, and there isn’t a showcase event featuring the All-NBA team’s talents. Either way, it doesn’t matter a whole lot, and it’s probably the old man in me talking again. I also dislike loud noises, teenagers, the internet, and rap music.
Like baseball, I would like to see the NBA put something on the line for the All-Star game. If home-court advantage in the finals is too much of an ask, maybe we can settle for the location of the All-Star game in two years time, which would serve as pretty good motivation.
Level-setting on James Johnson
No post is complete without a table of stats, so here’s mine and it’s about Terrence Ross’s hitting the floor, then the ceiling, and settling somewhere in the middle (sort of):
He had a very productive December, especially in the latter half, and has regressed some in January before having a strong game against Brooklyn. The overall trend with Ross is still positive because he’s attacking the rim more, playing better defense, and you expect his three-point shooting to even out through the course of the season (currently at .361).
With DeMarre Carroll out, his minutes will be steady along with James Johnson (who has seen minutes rise every month this season). Theoretically, if Carroll is supposed to bring the 3-and-D, then from a replacement view, Ross should be the 3 and Johnson the D.
However, one thing we all need to sober up about is James Johnson. You might recall the real love affair with Johnson started when Dwane Casey decided that having Tyler Hansbrough check Paul Pierce was a better idea than giving Johnson a chance (it ended tragically). He was frozen out in the Nets series, and a year later, the same happened against the Wizards, though I’m not sure anything would’ve saved the Raptors there.
Our love affair with Johnson is rooted in sympathy and the occasional flash of brilliance on his drives, not exactly his defense. His defense, though still overall better than Ross, has been very iffy. He was on the wrong side of Joe Johnson multiple times, and has been playing poor positional defense in general, often getting humbled because he relies on his athleticism more than his footwork.
When I make a plea for James Johnson to play, it’s usually because of his offense since he’s so good at attacking the rim from both unused and live dribbles, and moves without the ball creating assist opportunities for his teammates. That is a quality that the injured Carroll has as well, so instead of classifying it as 3-and-D, I’d say both Ross and Johnson bring more on offense, than they bring on defense, and there is no replacement for Carroll’s tenacious (though infrequent due to injury) defense.
As we monitor Ross and Johnson, keep in mind that the Magic and Nets aren’t opponents that’ll make you pay for having off nights, but the Clippers and Heat are, so it’s going to be interesting to see what type and level of production the Raptors get from those two in the two big games of the week.