Welcome to “Ask A Blogger,” our new series in which I will interview a number of basketball bloggers about the blog life and basketball. We’ll hopefully have a few of these each week, so stay tuned to The Skyhook to learn more about your favorite blogger’s favorite bloggers.
We’re coming in strong for the inaugural post today with Sean Highkin of USA Today. You can follow Sean (@highkin) on Twitter dot com for #hottakes on basketball and Soulja Boy. (You can see his archive of things he’s written here.)
1. In just a few sentences, can you tell us who you write for/what your job is?
I joined USA TODAY Sports in March, ahead of the launch of For The Win
, a social news site that we unveiled in April. The site is a mix of off-beat, quick-hitting posts (highlight videos and GIFs, funny Twitter/social media moments, etc.) and original reporting, like this piece
I wrote in December about the production of Inside the NBA
on TNT. We have a few writers who cover multiple sports as well as specialists for the NFL, college football and baseball. I’m the NBA guy. But my job also involves helping out USA TODAY’s NBA desk with content for the paper and website.
2. How did you first get interested/started with writing about basketball?
I’ve been an NBA fan since the late ’90s, but never really thought about writing about it, which is weird because I’ve always had a strong interest in writing. Around 2009, a friend gave me a copy of the first FreeDarko almanac, which really opened my eyes to the world of smart basketball writing that out there on the web. Around the same time, I joined Twitter and started getting involved in the early versions of the community we now know and love as #basketballtwitter. At a certain point (around spring 2010), I decided that I liked to write, so I might as well get into the game. After a year or so of low-level blogging on my own, Matt Moore brought me on at Hardwood Paroxysm.
3. How does a normal day of blogging go for you?
It depends. I live in Chicago, so I go to most of the Bulls’ home games. If it’s a game day, I’ll be at the United Center in the morning for shootaround, where both teams’ coaches and some of the players are available to the media. I’ll get whatever I need for the story I’m working on, transcribe, file a story if I need to, and then I have enough time to go back home, eat something and head back over to the arena for pregame media availability.
On nights where the Bulls don’t have a home game, I’m at home posting things on FTW. I have three TVs in my living room and a box hooked into my DVR that allows me to record video, so I can create videos and GIFs of highlight plays pretty easily. I’ll be monitoring as many games as I can at one time on League Pass, and posting anything noteworthy that happens.
4. Switching to basketball things, what is one low-key thing in the league (player, team, set, etc.) that you really like watching right now that casual fans may not know about?
Not a lot about the Miami Heat is under-the-radar, but my favorite feel-good story of the season is Greg Oden playing regular minutes over the past few weeks. I was in Portland during his whole time there, and it was so heartbreaking how his knees were never able to hold up and he will forever be known as “the guy the Blazers drafted ahead of Kevin Durant.” He will never be the superstar he was projected to be, but the fact that he’s even playing at all after over four years of knee surgeries is awesome to me.
5. And finally, can you give us a reason (besides the Heat and Pacers) to pay attention to the Eastern Conference the rest of the regular season?
The Knicks are comedy. Even when they’re terrible, they’re usually entertaining. Giannis Antetokounmpo makes the Bucks watchable (but mostly, I wanted to type that to prove that I know how to spell his name). (Ed. note: #flex) Post-Rudy Gay trade, the Raptors have been pretty fun. But in terms of teams that might be contending for a title, it’s really a two-team race and basically has been since the first week of the season.
*Special Bonus question: What is your favorite Soulja Boy track?
That’s like asking me to pick a favorite out of my nonexistent children. But “Speakers Going Hammer” and “Zan With That Lean” are hard to top.
Thanks again to Sean for joining us on “Ask A Blogger.” If you don’t already follow him on Twitter, rectify that mistake by doing it now: @highkin
If you have questions you’d like to see asked in future editions of “Ask A Blogger,” let me know on Twitter (@jmaloney9) or by email ([email protected]).