You may or may not have noticed that I’ve sent out some tweets asking for questions for a mailbag post. While we count down the weeks until the start of the regular season (and perhaps after the season starts, depending on the questions you guys have), I thought we’d do a mailbag round up once a week or so to answer some of your questions.

What kind of questions do I want? Anything that you may have wanted to discuss about basketball or writing about basketball or spending roughly 87 percent of my time devoted to basketball. And, if you want to throw in a music or poetry question here and there to shake it up and keep it interesting, that’s cool, too.

If you’d like to hit me up with some mailbag material, email stackmack32@gmail.com or tweet me @stackmack.

And without any further rambling from me, let’s get into some of the question you guys had this time around. Because I was asked the question, I get a lot of emails, tweets and Facebook messages about (How did you get the job you have), I broke this first mailbag down into two questions, because my answer was a lengthy one. I’ll be posting more answers to your questions as the week goes on, so keep checking back!

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Question: Can you think of a bigger (and better) “eff you” that one rival has ever done to another than the Celtics signing of Delonte West this week? — Matt

Matt, thanks for your question. Unfortunately, I can’t really give you a fair response, because, to be honest, I hadn’t thought of it like that. Ha. I suppose with the way that you spelled it out, one could say that the Celtics are sending a dig at their rival in LeBron, but really, I think Celtics fans such as yourself should be happy with the commitment the organization has had to getting better and to getting over the hump that prevented them from being champions last season. Many times when a team makes it to the Finals, they keep the group together and try it again. While I agree with this logic, I also think you need to come to battle with some extra weapons in your arsenal. With the moves that the Celtics have made, they are showing they certainly don’t plan on bowing down to the Heat and that not only do they want to make it out of the East, they are thinking championship.

Interesting though, to think of the Delonte/LeBron rumors and to also think of Delonte getting signed by a contender. Funny, since many had seen him out of the league this season.

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Q: Loads of basketball fans in Great Britain like me are looking forward to Luol Deng and Ben Gordon having a great season this year, before suiting up for GB next summer in the Eurobasket. So my question is, how do you see those two guys doing this year? — Rob (Edinburgh, Scotland)


Rob, I’ve been a Ben Gordon fan since his days at UConn (and actually deserted my beloved Syracuse Orange for the Huskies during their run to the title), so I’m hoping for Ben to have a strong season.

Gordon’s first year as a Piston was plagued by injury, but after having an entire off-season to fully recover from ankle surgery, I think Gordon should bounce back this season. It’s just a matter of how long it takes him to find his role as the scorer that the Pistons need. Gordon had a really tough year shooting the ball (and was unable to stay healthy long enough to stay on the court and get himself out of his shooting slump), but Detroit signed him for his ability to put points on the board.  Without that, there isn’t much else they can count on Gordon to bring to the floor consistently, night-in and night-out.

For the money the Pistons are paying him, great things are expected of Gordon this year. Unless Gordon can add something to his game offensively — not the easiest thing to ask of a guy with six seasons under his belt acting as the hot-handed, single-minded shooter in clutch time — he’s likely to continue to look overpaid.

As for Deng, I think he will greatly benefit from the additions made to the Bulls roster. Deng was forced to create a lot of offense for himself last season, but he’ll now find himself with more opportunities to score as defenses collapse on Derrick Rose’s penetration and the threat of Carlos Boozer’s inside scoring.

With the talent upgrades the Bulls have made this off-season, Deng now gets to operate without as much pressure to score. While he is most productive with the ball in his hands, Deng will likely have a more efficient campaign with more offensive threats around him. Although his individual numbers may go down, the team as a whole was one of the biggest winners in this offseason, so look forward to a lot of W’s coming for Deng’s Bulls.

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Q: Honestly, how many wins do you think the Raps can get this year? I’m hoping for 25 at least. And how did you score such a sweet gig with The Score? Sounds like it would be lots of fun. — James

James,

I hate predicting wins, particularly before I’ve been through training camp and/or preseason to even get a glimpse of how a team looks together. With the Raptors, once again, they’ve got a roster that looks drastically different than the one they had to finish the season last year. Whenever you lose your franchise player without getting anything in return in terms of physical assets now, you’re going to go through a rebuilding period. You can call it an evolving process, as Bryan Colangelo has, but the fact remains, there’s an adjustment period that needs to happen and during that period, it’s highly unlikely that the wins will be rolling in. I’m going to shy away from exact #’s, but I do think the team will surpass your wish.

As for the gig, if you’re looking to break into the sports world, I will suggest a few things I inherited from other writers that have stuck with me:

Write and write often. Whether you’re writing in your journal or on a blog where your mom is your only reader, writing is something that you get better at. As much as you write, read. Reading will help you becoming a better, cleaner writer and it will also give you ideas and feed you creatively.

With the online world as it is now, make a name for yourself. Join social media networks, show people who you are, what you do and think, and why we should listen to you. Your favorite writers and athletes and personalities? Many of them are now just an email (or tweet) away. Reach out. Ask for help.

Let people know what you’re trying to do but, most importantly show them you are willing to work for it and have put the time in and will continue to put the time in to getting better at your craft, be it writing or producing or reporting.

Make sure this is the field you want to get in for the right reasons. It looks glamourous on the outside and it is, as long as giving up all of your weekends (and weeknights, too!) with friends to stay in and watch sports before pouring over box scores, Basketball-Reference and HoopData to help you in your quest to write something wonderful that nine-and-a-half times out of 10, you’ll hate nonetheless. If that sounds wonderful to you — and trust me, I’m not trying to dissuade you because I love every second of this grind, even if my friends think I’m crazy for giving up a “normal” 20-something way of living — then keep working hard and believe that hard work is rewarded.

Whenever people ask what it’s like to cover the NBA, it’s easy to sum it up in a single sentence: It’s harder than I could have imagined, but it’s also sweeter than I could have ever dreamed.

If you think you would feel the same way, best of luck to you. Whatever your dream is, chase it down.

Comments (6)

  1. Nice mailbag. I think that Deng will also benefit from the addition of Ronnie Brewer as he will get most of the tough defensive assignments instead of Deng which will in turn allow him to operate more efficiently on offense. As for the breaking in bit, good advice. However it is hard to write all the time when you have to work to pay the bills elsewhere. On that note, help us out and read our blog. We would be very thankful.

  2. So Holly you’ve been hired in to write the advice column segment of The Jones?
    Are Sex and the City doing sports based movie in Toronto I wasn’t aware of?

    So my question is more of the esoteric variety:
    Who gets you through the seemingly endless and couch riden nights creatively speaking? Whether its other writers, listening to commentary of games or special comments or even things as broad as film, athletes or anyone in general outside of sports.

  3. LDR4: I hear you on it being tough to juggle writing while working another job. I think most of us bloggers/writers have had to do that at some point as we got started.

    TJR: It’s the offseason and it’s making me a little loopy so I decided to ask of anyone had any questions!

    As for your question, it’s relatively easy to get through the nights when you’re doing something you genuinely love and are almost entirely consumed by. When I am out, I’m checking Twitter pretty regularly for updates on scores and news, anyway. I’ve got a whole bunch of my favorite fellow writers/bloggers on my gchat list and they’re always around if I need a break or if I want to bounce an idea off of them. As for the creative side, music goes a long way. Can’t imagine a writing life without it.

    If I’m really stuck, I’ll hit up the He Got Game soundtrack. Usually does the trick.

  4. You should move to Europe Holly – You’d be free on your weekends, then after a night out in the town with your friends you can head home in time to see the first stream of East Coast games on League Pass.

  5. Holly, your response to James sounds like something you would have written in a journalism class during your first year of college. Feels like you just pulled it out of the vault as a canned response.

    That said, (in a somewhat cheeky tone), I loved it. Love your writing. Read your stuff every chance I get. Keep up the great work.

  6. Seems fair enough, and wasn’t for a second implying you had troubles loving the game and who got game and the game behind the game, that’s how that goes isn’t ?

    I meant more outside of basketball as well, even if they aren’t always directly outside basketball. People like Spike Lee for example, or I know when I first started watching the NBA here in Australia I couldn’t get through a game the same way unless Marv Albert was calling it, although he has dropped off a bit recently. We have a guy here who commentates the AFL (Australian Football) called Dennis Cometti who’s our sort of version of Marv back in the good days.

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