Category Archives: 5 Year Paroxy-versary

Hardwood Paroxysm Celebrates A 5-Year Paroxy-versary: You’ve Got A Friend

Note: This was supposed to run two days ago on the actual 5-year Paroxy-versary, but there was someone I felt I needed to speak with first.

Being that it’s our 5-year anniversary, I figured I’d tell a story about something that happened 5 years ago. I may wind up telling you more about myself than I planned to in the process, but here goes. 

The story actually starts a little further back. In the summer of 2000, I was in my fifth year of sleepaway camp (Yes. I am one of those. A lot of us Jewish people do that kind of thing in the summers). It was the first year I was old enough to play in the camp’s version of the NBA, and as one of just four people in my age group deemed talented enough (back in my pre-knee surgery days, I could actually kind of play) to be in that league rather than being stuck in the NCAA – which was for my age and the year younger – I was crazy nervous before my first game. As if that weren’t enough, they were holding the games at night rather than during the day-time activities, so everybody my age and older would be there watching. Luckily for my mental health at the time, my game was on the far court – the one where there were no bleachers for fans; the other campers, as well as our counselors and the camp administrators. I could just play, and if I sucked, at least it would be in relative anonymity.

I won’t bore you with the details of the game, but my team won, and I scored a whole bunch of points, 20-something. I was pretty proud of myself for holding my own, and for succeeding beyond what could have been expected of me as one of the youngest players in the league. But then I remembered that nobody probably saw it happen, and I was pretty sure that nobody really cared, because I found out after the game was over that on the close court - the one with the bleachers and all of the fans – someone was busy pouring in 46 points, from seemingly all over the floor. I was so sure nobody had seen and nobody had cared, until a girl I’d never seen before came up to me and said, “Hey Dubin. You’re pretty good.” Her name was Carol, and the guy who scored 46 points with everybody watching was her brother. I had no idea how good a friend she would eventually become.

Over the next few summers, we hung out all the time. Her family was from the same town as my group of close friends I already had at camp, so when I visited everyone on some weekends during the school year, I’d make sure I saw them too. We’d talk online a lot (in the AOL Instant Messenger days!) and sometimes we’d talk on the phone, back when people still used their phones to call each other instead of just texting. By the time we each went off to college, we were really good friends.

In the fall of 2006, I made a plan in my head to visit Arizona State to see Carol and a few other close friends who went there. I never wound up making the trip, but I really, really, really wish I had. Because a little more than five years ago, on February 18, 2007 to be exact, on her 20th birthday, Carol – along with another friend I had made through her – was shot and killed. Her roommate’s ex-boyfriend sat in the parking lot all night waiting for her to get home, and on the walk from her car to her apartment door, he shot her. He chased down the other girl, Nicole, who had started running once she saw what happened, and he shot her too. And then, like a coward, he turned the gun on himself.

I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I found out. I was sitting in my room in my fraternity house about to fire up my XBOX to play one of my friends in Madden (See? I told you I’d wind up telling you more about myself than I probably wanted to. Now you know I was a sleepaway camp/fraternity/Madden-addict kid. And sorry, mom and dad, for playing so much Madden instead of always going to all my classes). One of my friends walked into my room, and the first thing he said to me was, “Two girls from my high school died last night.” Knowing that I had a lot of friends from his high school, I asked who they were, and what had happened. When he told me, I was crushed. I kicked everyone out of my room. I called my parents, and told them I need a flight home. When they asked why, I told them, and they were crushed too. I had an exam the next day. I skipped it. I had an interview for a summer internship the day after. I skipped that too. I flew home to be with my friends, to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of two of our own.

The funerals were a madhouse. There were – it seemed – multiple thousands of people in attendance. There was nowhere to sit and there was nowhere to stand. There were just too many people there. By the time I got there, about half an hour early for the services, there was a line out the door to get inside. I gathered with my friends and none of us said anything for a while. We went through the motions of the day, listening to our other friends, and our fallen friends’ families, talk about our friends and their lives and their spirit and the horrible way they were taken from us. Everybody, everywhere, was crying. Except me. I had never been a crier. And then we went to the cemetery and we put them in the ground. And that’s when I cried. I realized I’d never see my friends again, and it was just too much to handle.

I went back to school after that and I carried on with my life for a while. I didn’t forget about what happened to my friends, but eventually I was able to deal with it. And for the rest of the school year, I thought I was fine, all things considered. But when I came home for the summer, a weird thing starting happening to me. I often found myself unable, or unwilling, to get out of my car and walk to the door at night. It sometimes took me upwards of 10 minutes of just sitting with my hands on the steering wheel, gearing myself up, building up the strength and the will to get out of the car and sprint as fast as I could to the garage door, to do it. I don’t get scared of many things, but I was absolutely terrified of that walk from the car to the door.

Eventually, as before, I was able to deal with it. It’s been more than 5 years now, and that walk is not a problem for me anymore. Sometimes when I get home particularly late, and it’s particularly dark, I feel just a twinge of fear on that walk. That twinge reminds me of what happened, but it also takes me back to that day in 2000, when a girl I had never met before came up to me and made my day just a little bit better. So I smile a bit, and I finish that walk. But I still – and always will – miss my friend.

Next month, I’ll attend The 2nd Annual 3-on-3 Love & Basketball Tournament in New York City in honor and remembrance of my friends. The proceeds from tournament entry fees will go to foundations made in their names, which help fund the Long Island Crisis Center, Love – Leave Out Violence, and Project Morry.

Hardwood Paroxysm Celebrates A 5-Year Paroxy-versary: Who The Hell Are You?

 

I’m not really sure how I got here. I think I have Matt Moore to thank for it, though. I’m also not really sure where “here” is. I can probably thank Matt for that, too. If you ask roughly 100% of basketball writers, they’ll probably say that they have to thank Matt Moore for helping them get wherever they are. That’s because every single one of them started writing at Hardwood Paroxysm (don’t Google that, just trust it). More seriously though, just look through the names of people who wrote posts for HP today. It’s as if Matt joined a Basketball Writer Fantasy League and was the only one who showed up to the draft. Whether HP helps groom fantastic basketball minds or just acts as hub that these people naturally gravitate towards (spoiler: it’s a combination of both), the results speak for themselves. And somehow, I ended up writing here.

Apparently Hardwood Paroxysm has been around for five years now. So if you want to feel old, I was entering my sophomore year of high school when Matt started this site. A couple years later, I got to college and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. But I knew I liked basketball. And I knew I liked talking about basketball. And I knew I liked assuming I was right about everything. So I started a crappy Cleveland Cavaliers blog and wrote about the terrible basketball player that is JJ Hickson. I became more active on Twitter and I plugged my blog posts to my 13 followers and hoped someone besides my mom read it. One day, I wrote something that wasn’t Cavs related and tweeted that I needed somewhere to post it. Within seconds, this blue grizzly bear tweeted at me and said he’d read it and possibly post it on his site.

Who the hell are you? I knew nothing about @HPBasketball. I knew nothing about Matt’s work at CBS. I had no idea that he was hoarding all of these great young writers, but after checking his number of followers I figured he’d be helpful for me to reach a larger audience. Somehow, Matt thought my post was worth putting on his site. That post got circulated on ESPN’s Daily Dime Live and within a couple of days, the folks at SBNation reached out to me to contribute to their Cavaliers blog. A few months later, I took over FearTheSword.com and was a semi-regular contributor to HP.

Here’s Matt Moore — professional NBA bloggissist/Louis C.K. look-a-like. He’s about 10,000 Twitter followers are the time and I’ve done nothing to earn his following, much less him reading my work. The natural reaction for a person in his position would be to see some kid’s independent blog and just ignore it. I had nothing to offer him. But that’s not how Matt Moore thinks. He didn’t care that I had been writing about basketball for a month. He didn’t care that I wrote everything through Wine and Gold-colored glasses. All he cared about was the fact that I shared the same passion that he did.

This isn’t supposed to be a big article about how Matt and Hardwood Paroxysm changed my life or anything. But when we started talking about the 5-year anniversary and Matt asked us to write something, this is immediately what came to mind. I did nothing to deserve this opportunity, but I’m damn thankful that I got it. As HP starts the next 5 years, I hope Jared and Amin continue the model that Matt has used to build this site. We make jokes about how many people write for this site  and the more, the better. It’s not necessarily about COUNT DA PAGE VIEWZ or really spectacular paragraphs– but rather just the love of basketball and the opportunity to share that passion with others. That’s how I got here.

Hardwood Paroxysm Celebrates A 5-Year Paroxy-versary: The Other Social Network

Photo via cleantechjobs on Flickr.

One of the most important, and certainly most inexplicable, nights of my life came in mid-July 2011. These were the halcyon days of Google+, and much of the conglomerate known as “basketball twitter” had made the jump. We all thought it was going to upend Facebook as the dominant social network, and we were among the early adopters. There was a small-ish group of us, including several fellow future Hardwood Paroxysm writers, who had started doing Hangouts during evenings that summer. A Google Hangout is basically a group Skype video chat, and we used the platform to shoot the shit about basketball, Breaking Bad, Watch the Throne, and whatever else. One such night, Connor was in one of our hangouts, but he was also on the phone with Matt Moore, who had been impressed by something he’d written on his blog and offered him a spot at HP. After Connor got off the phone and told us the good news, I distinctly remember Curtis cracking “What’s he gonna do next, come in here and offer all of us jobs, too?”

You can probably guess where this is going. About half an hour later, we were in the middle of listing every white American player in the NBA and categorizing them as “good” or “bad,” for absolutely no reason other than this was the kind of thing we did during these Hangouts. All of a sudden, Matt jumped in and told us all about how nice Mike Miller was to him during Finals media availability, and we should all cut him some slack. He left almost immediately, but before he did, he said: “Hey, so if any of you want to write for Paroxysm, shoot me an email.” You’re reading this post because of a Google Hangout. Google+ isn’t even a thing anymore, but I owe whatever semblance of a “career” I have to it.

Pre-Paroxysm, my primary writing background was in music. I wrote 2,000-word album reviews for my high-school newspaper and pushed them through unedited, much to my colleagues’ annoyance. I co-founded the pseudo-Pitchfork review site One Thirty BPM (now known as Beats Per Minute) with a couple of friends in 2008, and focused most of my energy on that my first two years of college. I had become a huge NBA fan in elementary school after watching the 1998 Finals with my dad, but my fandom lapsed somewhat into “casual” territory during the mid-2000s as I developed other interests. When I got to college, I started following it in greater depth again, but my regaining of interest didn’t truly take off until early 2009, when a friend gave me a copy of the first FreeDarko almanac. That was the first time I started thinking about the game from a perspective outside of the mainstream, “Who’s better, Kobe or LeBron?” view. From FreeDarko, I discovered Ball Don’t Lie, the Basketball Jones, and yes, Hardwood Paroxysm. I started using Twitter and attempting to interact with these bloggers, even though they all knew the game way better than I did. I was immediately drawn to the sense of community among NBA bloggers, and the way they would all link to and pump up each other’s work, paying no mind to whether they were linking to ESPN, Yahoo, SB Nation, or whatever else. It was a nice change of pace from the more petty, competitive nature of the music writing landscape, and I wanted to be a part of it.

In the last two and a half years, I’ve been much more fortunate in that regard than my abilities merit. After toiling at Bleacher Report and writing on my own little-read blog for a few months, I was given my first big break before the 2010-11 season by Couper Moorhead and Steve Jones, who were looking for new writers for their Blazers blog, Rip City Project. Coup had just taken a job with the Miami Heat as a web writer (and if you’re not reading or following him, he’s still one of the smartest and most thought-provoking NBA writers out there), and they were looking to pass their creation off to someone who would take care of it. For some reason, I was one of the two people they picked. The application email I sent them was more long than good, but it worked. I covered the Blazers on RCP that season, and then The Hangout happened. Now, I’m writing for two other TrueHoop blogs in addition to Paroxysm, got to cover this year’s Summer League as a credentialed media member, and been fortunate to work with an absolutely incredible group of writers. I’m totally biased, but I will contend that HP has the best collection of writers in the sports blogosphere. I love and respect every single one of them, and continuously ask myself how I got to be included in their ranks. That the answer is “Because I happened to be using a short-lived social networking site on the right night” is pretty fitting for the most wonderfully random, unhinged, and unexplainable entity in the NBA community.

I Watched You Change

Before 2008 the only thing I really knew about the internet was that Al Gore didn’t invent it and it was one helluva fun place to play Diablo, which somehow felt related. Then one evening Utah Jazz color man and ringbearer of the 1971 ABA Utah Stars, Ron Boone, was deep into his pregame spiel on the night’s tilt between the Jazz and LA Lakers when he mistakenly blurted out “Well, certainly Kobe is the best team in the league… ER…” I had to share this. But where?

Within minutes I’d created an ESPN profile and was telling anyone and everyone who would listen about the accurate hilarity of this surely Freudian slip. I had no idea at the time that there was already a huge, burgeoning basketball community, that responses of all manners would come pouring down on me like a Bible Belt summer storm, that my life would change forever in that moment, that moment I found out I could actually share my love of basketball with anyone in the world I wanted to.

I was hooked irrevocably after those first however-many hours that made me one of the walking dead at work the next day. Soon my wife would begin to bitch that she never got to use her computer anymore because I was on it every waking hour that I wasn’t at my real job. She isn’t my wife anymore. I decided to create a fan page that quickly became a sizable basketball community — that actually still exists today, though now lies dormant in it’s original form, the members all having migrated to Twitter — and we held a weekly sort of ancestor to today’s DDL, where we would all agree to meet up and chat about a game on national television that week. It was so popular we soon had to have two.

I cut my teeth at blogging on my profile and was ecstatic to wake up one day to find my face and article on the front page of ESPN (I forget the title, and have come up blank trying to find it again, but it was a preseason prediction of sorts about how Portland was poised to break through and make the playoffs once again after an extended absence). Not long after, the mothership would once again leave my mouth on the floor on a Christmas day, featuring my mug once again for a preview I’d done of the five games to be played. I couldn’t tell you what else I got that Christmas season, but I can never forget the one given me when I woke up and fired up the net for the day that day.

Fast forward a few months and the Daily Dime Live would be born. I don’t think I missed more than a couple hours of that inaugural season of DDL, and there I’d get yet another surprise. A game had wrapped and I stepped away for a breath only to come back to find a  message from the proprietor of SaltCityHoops asking me if I’d like to write for him. Reading TrueHoop daily there were two places that I used to sit and stare longingly at, wishing I could contribute to, although I had no delusion that they were far out of my reach, that their scope was so vast, their content so professional that all I could ever do was hope to imitate, never duplicate them. After a short stint with Spencer Ryan Hall that didn’t go as either one of us had expected, I found myself without a basketball home — mind you, it was an amicable and agreeable split. We still text, tweet, talk, meet up at games, and I intend to do some guest work for him this season by invitation. Spencer is one of the most intelligent and courteous people you could ever hope to meet — but it wouldn’t be long before I was picked up by British NBA fan Kevin Guy at ShootHoops, then shortly after I kind of bullied my way onto TheUtahJazzBlog, which has since married into the SLCDunk family. 

It didn’t take long for my works to start popping up in links in places like Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie and SI’s Point Forward (shout out, Kelly Dwyer and Zach Lowe). But it wasn’t TrueHoop. I yearned for another shot at Henry’s baby. All those in-between times I’d sit and stare at the page in front of me my eyes were always continually drawn ultimately to one blog. “If I could only write for one blog,” I’d say to myself, and aloud, “it would be Hardwood Paroxysm. Heh. Too bad. Those guys are so far above my head it’s like Manute Bol standing next to Mugsy Bogues.”

So the message from the venerable and volatile Matt Moore was met with more than an ounce of butterflies and elation. Opportunity and optimism mingled with a sense of pressure and partisanship in my gut. I’d fly out of my seat with a smile only to sit back down with sweaty palms. For like the next eight weeks. It’s not like the guy is busy or anything…

Although my part tends to be piecemeal at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It what we do here at Hardwood Paroxysm, a place we can all cut loose and buckle down at the same time.

Happy birthday, HP. Now grab your ankles and take your spanking like a man. After you make your wish, of course.

Hardwood Paroxysm Celebrates A 5-Year Paroxy-versary: We’re Taking Over, One RTOE at a Time

Image via anearthling on Flickr

Jared and I have been tapped as the new Co-Editors-in-Chief of this fine establishment. Here, we try to make sense of where we’ve been and where we’re headed, even though we both know that our future is as unpredictable as our past was. Thanks, Matt, for believing in our potential… like we all still do with Tyrus Thomas.

Amin: So after 5 years at Hardwood Paroxysm, Matt has finally passed the reins onto someone else (His reaction?). Two someones, I guess. You and me, Jared. I always suspected Matt was insane, but it wasn’t until he gave us the job that it was confirmed. Do you spontaneously break out in cold sweats, too?

Jared: Cold sweats is a problem I usually encounter twice yearly. Allergy season is the worst.

I said this to Matt when we spoke the other night, but I feel like he’s Dan Harmon and we’re the guys taking over Community. I read an interview they did with Alan Sepinwall, and they just kept saying how the show was Dan’s baby, and they don’t want to change a thing and they’re only concerned with carrying on the legacy and tradition of what he built. That’s how I feel about us taking things over here. We’re not here to overhaul HP and make everything different. We’re here to carry on and continue what Matt’s built. I want us to be just as weird and HP-y for the next 5 years as we were for the last 5.

Amin: It sounds like we’re going to have to up the ante for HP, then, and go #6SeasonsAndAMovie. Seriously, though, I hope we can do as awesome of a job as Matt has done these past 5 years. Juggling work, life, writing, and keeping up with the game. Interviewing players. Writing with your friends. Providing a home for others to harness their creativity and find their niche. Becoming friends with those you helped get their shot. The dude is like a mix between Superman and Mother Theresa, but with basketball blogging. So like Dikembe Mutumbo, without the ponzi scheming. OK, maybe he’s just a normal guy who loves basketball, loves writing, and loves helping others. Damn comparisons; it’s the classic writer trap!

But seriously, if it hadn’t been for Matt, not only would I clearly not be in this position today, but I wouldn’t even have been writing anymore. I didn’t think I could cut it as a writer, and twitter + basketball were taking up a lot of my time. But he gave me a shot, and I haven’t looked back.

You may think, Jared, that I wrote all this stuff because I didn’t want to be stuck being the assistant to the editor in chief (ie, you) and have to get your coffee or farm beets forever. But it’s actually because this weekend was the 5-year anniversary of this site, and sometimes (sometimes) it’s a good to remind oneself that Matt’s more than just the biggest troll on #basketballtwitter.

Jared: I have an assistant? AWESOME. I like dark coffee, but with a little bit of milk and two sugars. Thanks. Also, my dry cleaning ticket is on the counter. If you could just go ahead and pick that up for me, that’d be greaaaaaaaat.

I hear you, though. Almost exactly a year ago (10/29/11), I sent Matt an email telling him that I wanted to write for Hardwood Paroxysm, that I was a good fit for the style. I’m pretty sure there is a zero percent chance he had any idea who I was on that day. But I kept reading, and I kept tweeting, and I kept writing, and 3 months later I got an email back: “Welcome to the Paroxysm. You start Monday.”

Since then he’s helped me in any way I’ve asked, and then some. And now he’s entrusted us with this thing he created, and I couldn’t be happier or more excited to carry on the tradition.

Amin: Dammit, Jared! I’m not your assistant, and I have no idea which counter you’re talking about. I hate you so much.

My first 3 posts on Paroxysm debuted on 10/31/11… THE SPOOKIEST DEBUT OF ALL TIME. Well, not really, but they were sad posts since they were all about the lockout. Remember how terrible that was? Not only were we deprived of basketball for so long, but we were deprived of writing material. BECAUSE NOTHING WAS HAPPENING. Boy am I glad that’s over.

Since that time, I’ve been so lucky to make an awesome group of friends on HP, to be part of an awesome group of writers and colleagues on TrueHoop Network, and to interact with an awesome group of people and fans on #basketballtwitter… to speak nothing of all the personal and professional opportunities I’ve gotten through HP. It’s not an exaggeration to say being here changed my life.

And I think a big part of the tradition you mentioned, Jared, is Matt’s determination to help fledgling writers (like us) and give us a shot. Thanks to him, HP writers have gone on to write full time for CBS, NBC, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and SB Nation. I hope, in time, that you and I can help people even 1% the way that Matt has.

Jared: I certainly didn’t know where this whole writing thing would take me when I first started, and I definitely didn’t think it would take me here. We run a TrueHoop Network site now. It’s a testament to Matt’s ethos of acquiring and developing young (relatively, for me) talent that I’m where I’m at, and you seem to feel the same way. He was the first person outside my family and circle of friends to think anything I wrote was any good. I was like, “Oh, that blue bear who tweets 278 times a day likes this thing I wrote about Ray Allen and Eric Gordon? I guess I’m decent at this after all.” And so I just kept doing it. Now here we are, a year later, and he’s handing us the reins.

If we can do that for even just a few writers over the next few years, I’ll think we’ve been successful.

But let’s talk about the future. What can people expect to see at HP now that we’re running the show? For one thing, RTOEs. We’re doing those babies once a week from now on. Podcasts, too. And look out, Paroxyvision will be coming soon to a computer near you (We’ll explain later). People like the email exchanges? We’ll be doing a bunch of those. I’m going to continue Matt’s mailbag, and I plan on badgering enough people to get the Great Exercises In Internet NBA-Related Postings back too. And of course, the usual quality work from our amazing crew of writers. Matt’s really blessed us with a talented stable of scribes to work with as we move forward. Andrew Lynch, Clint Peterson, Conrad Kaczmarek (YEAH I JUST SPELLED IT RIGHT), Connor Huchton, Curtis Harris, Danny Chau, Eric Maroun, James Herbert, Jordan White, Noam Schiller, Sean Highkin, Scott Leedy and Steve McPherson make our job much easier. As do frequent guest writers like Aaron McGuire, Robert Silverman, Steve Von Horn and Ian Levy.

Amin: The future looks awesome. Almost as awesome as the future in Back to the Future 2. Holy crap, I just realized that if we are Co-EIC for as long as Matt was, we’ll be here for the year that the future in that movie takes place. Hopefully, ParoxyVision will be more high-tech than Jaws 19. And hopefully in the future, you’ll get your own damn coffee.

 

 

Hardwood Paroxysm Celebrates A 5-Year Paroxy-versary: Helping Hands

Image via calotype46 on Flickr

Matt Moore cares. Yes he’ll troll you on twitter (with great frequency, actually). Yes he’ll mock your opinions from time to time, and yes he does in fact hate your team. Yes he thinks Rajon Rondo and Russel Westbrook are great players and he’s a Grizzlies fan. Maybe he’s been a little rude to you once or twice. Maybe he clogs up your twitter feed with endless rants and retweets. Maybe you get annoyed by his seemingly endless memes. You may not agree with everything he writes or always agree with his approach to a certain topic. But I promise you, he cares.

Just over a year ago I was lucky enough to be brought on as part of a new crew of writers for Paroxysm. Having worked with and under Matt during that time I can say I’m often in awe of what he’s able to do. I’m incredibly jealous of his work ethic; his ability to bang out thousands of words a day with little to no sleep. I’m amazed by his ability to manage the 1,000 writers that Paroxysm currently employs. I always marvel at his commitment to learning more, if he’s not looking up obscure synergy numbers for how well Andrea Bargnani plays defense after eating chicken for dinner, he’s probably watching film of some awful Bucks-Warriors midseason game and LOVING it; his passion is undeniable. He soaks up every minute of every game, and if he feels like he missed something, or there’s some area he still doesn’t understand, he’ll watch it again.

I respect the hell out of Matt as writer and a basketball mind, but I respect him even more as a person. In my year at Paroxysm the thing that has impressed me most about Matt is his heart. He kept Paroxysm running when it would’ve been easier to just let it die. He’s used his success to try and bring others along. He brought in a bunch of young unproven people (like myself) and gave them a chance. He helped us grow as writers, and never once wavered in his belief in all of us. He continues to fight for the site and his writers in ways that often go unnoticed.

I owe pretty much all of my “basketball-twitter-blogger-writer” existence to Matt. He’s always been there. He gave me an opportunity despite essentially zero writing experience. He’s continued to support me despite the fact that I never write, and say incredibly stupid things on Twitter. When I was nervous as hell to go to my first game as a credentialed member of the media. He was there. He talked me through it, he told me it was going to be fine and that I would do great. It was fine, and at the very least I didn’t totally suck. He’s promoted my work more than he should. He’s been willing to send me detailed feedback despite his insanely busy schedule. He’s always gone above and beyond.

I owe more than an HP position to Matt .This past summer I started having panic attacks. I can say that is was the most awful, horrific, and terrifying experience of my entire life. I didn’t understand what was happening and I was incredibly scared. A few months removed, I’ve learned to deal with the anxiety, avoid the full on attacks and I feel much much better. I can also say, that looking back on that time, Matt saved me. Maybe some one else would’ve come along who could’ve empathized and explained what it was like dealing with anxiety attacks. But in my story, Matt’s the one who showed up. He shared with me his experience with panic attacks, listened to mine, and gave me tips on how to handle them. He told me I could call him anytime if I needed help. More importantly he told me I would be okay, and I believed him. It wasn’t easy, and often it still isn’t but on that day I felt so fortunate to have Matt in my life.

Matt Moore cares. That’s why Hardwood Paroxysm has grown and gained the respect of the basketball community. That’s why the site has made it 5 years and is still going strong. That’s why the site will never die. That’s why you read the site. That’s probably why you clicked on a link to this post. That’s why every writer on the HP staff, past and present, would stand behind the statement : Matt Moore is the F***ing man. That’s why so many of HP’s former writers have gone on to full time writing positions. That’s why all of the writers continue to work their hardest to provide interesting, unique, insightful content daily.  That’s why all of us are proud to write for Hardwood Paroxysm.

Hardwood Paroxysm Presents The 5-Year Paroxy-Versary: The New Mutation

You’ve probably noticed a bit of a celebration around these parts. This is both a celebration of the past, and an ushering in of a new era. But I’ve written about “era” multiple times on this blog. They don’t just have a set start and stop point. They are fluid, and as with all change, they occur over an unspecified amount of time. We choose to mark eras to make change easier to understand, but it’s hardly ever that simple.

Look up in the header. Click the About section. Aside from the ongoing carousel of writers, the section has remained the same. It doesn’t exactly explain what Hardwood Paroxysm means, but it somewhat gives an idea what the site values. The crest of HP hasn’t changed in five years.

In that time, “Athletic big men who will never live up to their potential” has remained on this site’s crest. So it must be a subject worth discussing.

Rasheed Wallace, against the odds, has a spot on the New York Knicks roster, playing the role of the cantankerous uncle who waxes shouts poetic loudly of the good old days. He makes his return as part of a crusade against the injustices being done to post play in today’s NBA by all the bratty little youngsters running amok. At some point in his two-year absence, Wallace lost his way. By romanticizing a past he wasn’t truly a part of, Wallace not only downplays, but erases his foothold in the evolution of the modern big man, or as Ball Don’t Lie’s Dan Devine put it, the “development of a new dominant style of offense”.

Of course, at 38, Wallace has almost spent as much time coming to terms with his basketball mortality and declining athleticism as he has enjoying the fruits of his athletic peak. Time forces a player to adjust and figure out what of their game is worth saving and what will inevitably perish. In a way, Sheed is simply being a walking PSA of the pitfalls of relying on one’s physical prowess. But to address the matter with such a conservative outlook is disheartening coming from a man who spent so much time questioning the structures in place.

Yet I can’t help but envision a momentary silence washing over Sheed as he watches Anthony Davis from the Knicks bench next month in New Orleans. It’d be something like a visit with the Ghost of Christmas Past. Davis is surely among the young players Sheed hopes to drop knowledge on, but the two are similar.

Anthony Davis, the most recent addition to the University of Kentucky’s pantheon of championship greats, was born on March 11, 1993.

Less than a month after Davis was born, a 19-year-old Rasheed Wallace was in Memphis, relaxing. It was the day before the ’93 McDonald’s All-American game and he was watching the NCAA Final Four games. He had the Kentucky on the mind:

“I’m pulling for Kentucky, because to me, they’ve got the best player in collegiate sports now in Jamal Mashburn. . . . That’s who I’ve been with all year,” said Wallace, who led Simon Gratz to a 31-0 record and a No. 1 high school ranking by USA TODAY.

via “Wallace stalls after whittling list to final four” | Gary Milhoces, USA Today (4/1/93)

(Kentucky would end up losing their semifinal game against Michigan, who would then go on to lose against North Carolina in the championship game.)

Wallace was the top high school recruit of 1993 and he took his sweet-ass time picking a team. He was 6’11” with long arms, a long stride, and a god-given ability to swat basketballs.

“One thing that always came easy to me was blocking shots,” Wallace said. “It was more of a natural instinct. I only fouled out once in my high school career. Everything else came hard.”

via “Wallace crafts complete game” | Dave Krider, USA Today (4/7/93)

…Which sounds a lot like:

“I had to get accustomed to playing in the post, rebounding, the whole shot-blocking ability came naturally, I don’t know where it came from,” Davis said. “I had never blocked shots, I blocked a couple of shots in high school because I was so much taller than everybody but in college I wasn’t sure where it came from.”

via “Anthony Davis’ unexpected rise” | Andy Katz, ESPN (6/28/12)

In their senior years, both Wallace and Davis averaged seven blocks a game. Yet their methodologies differ greatly. After all, Wallace has been a big man all his life. His blocks are contingent on eyeing the ball and estimating the distance between the ball and his outstretched hand. How high Wallace jumps rarely factors into the success rate because he targets the ball before it hits its apex.  Wallace was 6’3” in junior high. Davis was still 6’3” in his sophomore year of high school. Despite having a freaky growth spurt, he has guard sensibilities, and more importantly, guard reflexes. He can do everything Sheed can, but he can also make preemptive attacks without compromising his position. And even if he does, he’s still a threat to get to the ball. He can go for the ball at its apex no matter the distance from the rim because he knows how to guard the wing. His unfathomable defensive ability is informed by his past as a hungry, unheralded combo guard. It makes him, at 19, as complete a defender as we’ve seen in a long, long time.

He had a past life that Wallace didn’t. Sheed was immediately placed in the starting lineup his freshman year of high school after his high school’s starting center was shot in the thigh in a drive-by shooting. He’s been in the public eye ever since.

They both entered college with shot blocking as their only true elite skill. The other skills came later. In Sheed’s case, his skill set took on a mind of its own. We’re still waiting on Davis. If Rasheed’s career helped establish a new standard in the NBA, Davis is ready to unveil an exciting mutation.

Side question: When under the same roof, do you think Sheed’s spot of white hair and Davis’ unibrow have some sort of telepathic connection?

So, as you may have heard, our captain is stepping down. But Hardwood Paroxysm lives on in the legion of HP writers old and new. It’s been five years since this blog was started by Matt Moore and Tyrus Thomas isn’t anywhere close to being a great (or even good) player. It’s a shame, but there’s a reason why Thomas and the many bigs that came and failed before him still belong on this blog’s mantle. Their stories still deserve attention.

If I’ve gained anything from my time with this blog, it’s being able to own up to why I love basketball. I don’t care about who wins and who loses. I care about the little things that make the NBA weird and wonderful. If Moore can find joy in watching several Detroit Pistons preseason games annually, then there must be other untapped reservoirs of joy in basketball waiting to be found. Hopefully this new era of the blog can aid in your discovery. Hopefully we can all share our findings.

Rasheed Wallace breaks from his hibernation just as Anthony Davis makes his grand entrance. There isn’t much connecting Sheed and Davis – I was admittedly digging for coincidences. But unintentional or not, Wallace was a prototype for what Davis may one day become, even if Sheed may have already lost sight of who he was.

Time changes everyone. Priorities must be set and first loves must be set free. But if you’ve made enough of an impact, there will be others willing to pick up the slack. Whether any of this success was intentional or not, Moore has created something special. We’ll do our best to keep the (weird) spirit alive.

Here’s to the last five years. Here’s to five more.

Hardwood Paroxysm Celebrates A 5-Year Paroxy-versary: Pardon Me, Thanks A Lot

Photo by BenStark on Flickr

If you asked me what Hardwood Paroxysm was, I’d direct you to  Matt Moore’s piece on becoming a Grizzlies fan. I love that it feels like it’s addressed to a friend, written in the middle of the night after watching a lot of basketball and drinking a lot of Red Bull. I also love that it’s personal, it’s strong storytelling and, though it demonstrates a passion for and knowledge of the game, at no point does it feel like the point is “I follow the game better/smarter than you do.” It’s a basketball obsessive reflecting honestly about his relationship with the sport.

It’s one of my favorite pieces on this site. I remember retweeting it and linking it on a massively long blog post of my own. I remember relating to the affinity for underdogs that has always been the spirit of Hardwood Paroxysm. I still do relate to that.

The funny thing is that my experience with fandom could hardly be more different. Since League Pass became available to me and I started writing about the NBA and learning more about the players, it became harder and harder to root for one team above all others. Since Paroxysm gave me the chance to do what I always wanted to do — cover games in person and talk to the human beings involved — the idea of having one favorite team became unimaginable.

You know what I dig about writing for this site, though? You can write about your favorite team if you want to. You can make observations from an NBA locker room or from your couch in Jerusalem. You can write about Steve Nash or Satch Sanders or Summer League. In fact, the biggest compliment I ever got from Moore was for a profile of a third-string point guard. At Paroxysm, you’re less afraid of publishing something weird, personal or irrelevant than something boring.

Over the last five years, this space has been home to many of my favorite basketball voices on the planet. Today I’m as thankful for it as I was last August when I was given the chance to try to find my own voice here.

Hardwood Paroxysm Presents The 5-Year Paroxy-Versary: Graydon Gordian Peeled Me Off A Sidewalk

Graydon Gordian works for someone big and yellow whose job was recently threatened. He’s also the Emeritus editor of 48MinutesofHell.com, a contributing writer at Norman Einstein’s, and a wonderful person. Today he shares his thoughts on a new family born from this site and how blogs have helped us to have richer lives. Also, he recounts my lowest moment of the past five years. Enjoy. -Ed

You probably think of Hardwood Paroxysm as a blog about professional basketball in the United States, in particular the National Basketball Association. In some very basic sense, you’re absolutely correct. When I first started reading Hardwood Paroxysm, I thought of it as a basketball blog as well. Eventually I started writing for Hardwood Paroxysm and even then, it was still just a basketball blog, just a fun thing to pass the time in the evening’s after I got home from work.

This was long before the days of the TrueHoop Network, before any of us had paying gigs writing about basketball. It was long before I celebrated the inauguration of a president with Matthew Cornelius, and long before I watched Rob Mahoney absolutely murder (in the best way possible) The White Stripes’ “Fell in Love with a Girl” at a karaoke bar in San Antonio. It was long before Trey Kerby played pick-up hoops with my dad in Austin, Texas, and long before Zach Harper and I drove out to a ritzy Minneapolis suburb to go to Michael Beasley’s estate sale. This was before Jared Wade and I went to a Raekwon show in Soho, and before Jared and I hoisted a drunken Matt Moore off of a street in midtown only to realize he had broken his nose.

This was long before I called Matt one evening, and he answered the phone and told me earlier that day his beautiful wife Karen had given birth to a baby boy.

When I first started reading Hardwood Paroxysm, I thought it was a blog about professional basketball. At the time I failed to realize that, over the next five years, the men and women I met through Hardwood Paroxysm would become my cherished friends.

No matter where you look nowadays – CBS, TBJ, ESPN, SI – you see veterans of Hardwood Paroxysm. You see the careers this site has helped create, but you don’t see the friendships it has helped spark. You probably think of Hardwood Paroxysm as a blog about basketball. After these last five years, I no longer think of it as that.

Hardwood Paroxysm Celebrates A 5-Year Paroxy-versary: Cycles Of Hope

Photo from Gamethyme via Flickr

Five years ago, the Chicago Bulls were primed for their best season since MJ.

They had just won 49 regular season games, to go with a sweep of the defending champion Heat and a tough 6 game series against Detroit. Ben Wallace had just joined an otherwise youth-laden core to create one of the league’s premier defensive teams. Luol Deng was emerging as a potential first option on offense. Ben Gordon was one of the best 4th quarter scorers in the game, with a streakiness to his shot that was, at the time, still more deadly than meek. Kirk Hinrich and Andres Nocioni were not only valid NBA contributors, but valuable ones: Hinrich had averaged what now seems like an absurd 16.6 points to go with 3.4 boards and 6.6 assists a night, the kind of numbers you probably remember only if you’ve dedicated your life to remind people of that one Kirk Hinrich season. Not only that, he was perhaps the best Dwyane Wade stopper on the planet. Noc would throw in a rugged 14 and 6 in 26 minutes off the bench, and would still bother with such trivialities as making his threes and caring. Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah were athletic, versatile bigs who were added in consecutive drafts. The Bulls were prime to join the singularly focused Cavs and the oft-complacent Pistons as the East’s top powers.

They didn’t. Hinrich and Nocioni both got paid and saw their percentages drop accordingly. Deng couldn’t stay healthy, and struggled to rediscover his mojo when he made it out to the court. Ben Wallace got really old, really fast. Tyrus Thomas’ potential just couldn’t overcome the fact that he remained Tyrus Thomas, despite overwhelming evidence that this was not an advisable strategy. Noah couldn’t get enough minutes, annoying his coaches and fouling his opponents way too much. Scott Skiles was fired on Christmas Eve of all days after a 9 and 16 start, interim coach Jim Boylan did no better, with the number 49 from the encouraging year before appearing instead in the loss column. It made Bulls fans sad and they probably hate me for bringing it up.

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Right now, the Bulls are primed for their worst season since 2007-2008.

Derrick Rose, the one good thing to come from that horrid campaign, is injured. The depth that has been carrying the squad for two years is gone. Noah and Deng are much better than they were back then, but they are also older, and infinitely more fragile. Kirk Hinrich somehow found his way back after being left to die in the forest with nothing but a loaf of bread. And Carlos Boozer has replaced Tyrus Thomas as the theoretically good but practically infuriating power forward.

It doesn’t matter that the team still has a bright future ahead. Rose’s injury is scary, yes, but medical advancements have reached a point where ACL tears can be reduced from dead-ends to speed bumps; Tom Thibodeau is a basketball mind so brilliant that even Jerry Reinsdorf realized he needed to pay him; Deng and Noah are only 27, as is Taj Gibson, who just happens to be one of the best defensive big men in the game; the front office has shown remarkable skill in the ways of building a supporting cast when not tanking away seasons; and there is still a major prospect down the pipeline in Real Madrid’s Nikola Mirotic.

Things will be good in Chicago once 2012-13 ends, and even it projects to be slightly around average instead of disastrous. It doesn’t matter. Hope among Bulls fans is as low as it’s been in 5 years, it makes them sad, and they probably hate me for bringing it up.

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Success in the NBA is very easily definable: win the title. Of course, only one team can do so every year, so the rest shoot for whatever is closest. Get further than another team in the playoffs, and/or win more regular season games, and you’ve clearly had more success than them. Long-term, more nuance is needed, because of cap flexibility and draft placement and the sort of stuff we obsess over regularly, but in a singular moment in time, it is very easy to measure whether or not a team is successful.

Hardwood Paroxysm has been alive for 5 years, and because it is to measure success, it is easy to plot it over time. Some teams have been good for that entire stretch – the Spurs, Mavs, Celtics (who were just getting started, but still counts!) – some horrid (Sactown, sigh). Some have had enough time to be successful, torn down to the ground, and built back up (Miami, come on down!), and others still have descended back into the darkness they temporarily crept out of (you gave it an honest-to-goodness shot, Charlotte). It’s a collection of singular moments on a time axis; we can look at it and learn a lot about different franchises or the system they work in, but it is mostly fact.

Hope is a different story. It’s subjective to a franchise, subjective to a fanbase, and subjective to a fan. Some are distraught until the champagne is popped; some optimistic until some ping pong balls declare that a 70 loss season has given you nothing but the fourth pick in a three team draft. It ebbs and flows on both macro (“Amar’e is still owed 60 million, we used our amnesty, he’s almost 30 and has no knees! We’re stuck for THREE YEARS!”) and micro scales (“come on, J.R., you know not to shoot th… OK, OK, shoot that”). When it lives, we must cherish it, and when it dies, it can be revived in 20 years, 18 months or 0.4 seconds. We know that the emotional cycle inherent to humanity itself means we will be hit by both ends of the spectrum, but we have no idea when or how.

And when the basketball lords do choose to smite us where we stand? It gets us every time, and it’s always unique. Every reaction is possible. A dry throat and drenching perspiration, silenced fetal positions and tossing items across the room, power slides and solemnly awkward handshakes.

And blog posts. So many blog posts.

It’s that subjective glimpse into an objective endeavor that makes basketball so special, and it’s the different voices doing so that give value to reading and writing about the game in between plays. And no place does it like here. Maybe there’s something special about this place; maybe Matt’s just so good at teaching the trolling arts that it eventually comes off as genuine from his disciples as well; maybe there are just so many writers here that it’s statistically impossible for opinions to ever be absent. Whatever the reason may be, the unique experience that every person gives when they write about a subject that is dear to them comes across differently. It really couldn’t be named anything other than Hardwood Paroxysm, even if nobody actually knows what it means.