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April 07, 2014

Ranking the best day-in/day-out reads among the 30 NBA cities' beat writers

            I got a great question tonight on Twitter: Someone asked me who, in each NBA city, I follow.

            As in, “Which beat writer is a must-read in each market?’

With all due respect to some great people in this business, this is how I would rank coverage (relative to interest):

Blazers: Not close. Freeman, with help from Quick, etc, defines NBA coverage.

Bulls: K.C. Johnson is smart way beyond his years.

Raptors: No one works harder than Doug Smith. Period.

Spurs: Jeff McDonald-Mike Monroe team defines small-market kick-butt.

Cavs: Jason Lloyd doesn’t do this job the way I would – relies way too much on unnamed sources – but he’s daring and insightful.

Knicks: Frank Isola. He’s at a crossroads. Trying to be a TV personality and a beat writer at once.

Suns: Paul Coro defines the value of earnest. Listens. Writes insight.

Wizards: Michael Lee. Stuck covering a lousy franchise. Disseminates news and has an ironic sense of humor I hope fans get.

Miami: Ira Winderman. After all these years he never cruises. Wakes up every morning on a competitive beat and gets his share and more.

Brooklyn: Tim Bontemps. The rising star. He’s smart, he’s sensible, he finds actual stories. How can this happen at a tabloid?

Warriors: Rusty Simmons. A worker bee.

Bobcats: Rick Bonnell. Why would anyone have any use for that slacker?

Celtics: Steve Bulpett, although Baxter Holmes will be the voice of pro basketball in Boston if that’s what he wants.

Pacers; Constance Buckner. Huge potential.

Clippers: Brad Turner. I get the historical irrelevance of the Clippers. But Turner’s off-day stories tell me things other beat writers don’t.

Grizzlies: Ron Tillery: On top of what he does. Seldom gets beaten, offers perspective.

Rockets: Jonathan Feigen. Feeds a lot of masters in a half old-media/half new-media market.

Denver: Chrtis Dempsey: Should ask more tough questions, but a grinder with good reporter’s instincts.

Dallas; Eddie Sefko. The DMN’s cost-obsessed way of covering the Mavs probably keeps Eddie from doing his best work.

Lakers: It’s a Mike Bresnahan-Kevin Ding bake-off.

Sixers: Miraculously Philly still puts out great newspapers. Bob Cooney had a tough job slipping into Phil Jasner’s shoes.

Bucks: Charles Gardner tries so hard to write serious stuff about this franchise’s silliness. Been there.

Timberwolves: Jerry Zgoda’s sense of humor tickled me 25 years ago. Still does.

Thunder; Darnell Mayberry probably works way too hard – major-market team covered by a small-market paper. Not his fault.

Magic: Josh Robbins/Brian Schmitz have a tough mission, overcoming a franchise that thinks no answer is better than any answer.

Pistons: A dysfunctional franchise in a two-newspaper town. Doesn’t much matter who does it “better.”

Hawks: The AJC is so screwed up this is no judgment on Chris Vivlamore’s work.

Pelicans: Jimmy Smith is fighting a losing battle in a football town.

Jazz: Can’t remember the last time I checked either web site. Less their fault than the team’s.

Kings: Stuff happens.

Posted by Observer Sports on April 7, 2014 at 12:27 AM | Permalink


And Charlottes beat writer blows

Posted by: ok | Apr 7, 2014 12:59:55 AM

How is that a great question?

Love to see them get the 6 seed this year. With only 2 solid teams in the East the Bobcats could make another jump next year. Brooklyn is old and not sure Rose ever makes it back to full strength. Toronto? Washington? This is a real opportunity for Hornets. Hopefully they make the right moves to take advantage.

Posted by: Allen | Apr 7, 2014 6:29:47 AM

Boobs would be better off right where they are, 7 slot. Pacers are self-destructing before our eyes and at the polar opposite end of the spectrum from where the Boobs are. Boobs pretty much all get along and Clifford certainly has them buying into the team concept. Pacers wracked with dissension and Vogel seems to have lost the team. This isn't just a 1 game phenomena, it's been ongoing for over a month and they only have 3 games left. Pacer ripe for a round 1 loss thereby completing one of the greatest collapses in recent memory....couldn't be playing out better for the Boobs.

Gonna be very problematic for me if it comes to pass...

...but Slurpers, you're poised to be on the receiving end of a very very rare phenomena -- Christmas in April!

Posted by: NASTAR99 | Apr 7, 2014 8:29:16 AM

I actually agree with NASTAR. The recent collapse of the Pacers has been one of the more bizarre events in sports. At this point I would much rather play a series with them than the Bulls, Nets or Raptors.

Posted by: apauldds | Apr 7, 2014 10:43:45 AM

It really is bizarre and coincides with the trade of danny granger for evan turner. dude sits on the bench in a suit for years and they swap him for a productive LEGIT playmaker off the bench and they just fall apart.

It's very very odd. It isn't coaching. It's between stephenson and george's ears almost entirely. That's their 1-2 and their 1-2 has been bad. Both in a slump at the same time. I don't think i've ever seen anything like it from a team that at one point was in the discussion of winning 70 games.

and it hasn't been the schedule, these guys are dropping L's to nobodies.

Posted by: charlottean | Apr 7, 2014 10:56:27 AM

This kind of thing with the Pacers happens. Guys get paid and they start tuning out the coach. Stephenson is playing for his next contract which can hurt the team concept as well. West could be slowing down, etc. I do think they will re-organize and pick it up for the playoffs. The way the East is, if you can stay away from Miami, anyone else can be beat. Either way, happy with the Bobcats improvement this year. Would like to see them win some games to get playoff experience. Go get another player and see where this team can go next year.

Posted by: John | Apr 7, 2014 12:14:28 PM

I agree, of course.
But, what if the Wizards take note of these developments too, and make a little "effort" to drop to 7th in the East?!

It doesn't take much: enough for the Cats to win Wednesday in Washington, and we're in 6th place. And from there on, all they need is to have the same w/l record as the Bobcats in the last four games.
Just what we wanted all the time - but not anymore...

Posted by: Sandy | Apr 7, 2014 12:26:23 PM

I would still rather go toronto than indiana. no effing way we beat chicago the way they're playing.

Posted by: charlottean | Apr 7, 2014 1:59:39 PM

That's assuming that the Pacers will be able to fix their issues before playoffs time. Will they?

It's not impossible, but the reports from around that team show confusion, not an organization that has clearly identified the issues that plague them, and has a plan how to resolve them.

Then again, it's not totally impossible they'll come out of their slump. We'll see.

Posted by: Sandy | Apr 7, 2014 2:11:21 PM

Are the Bobcats the 2nd best team in the Eastern Conference right now? Tough to even say it, but when you look at how Indy is playing. 3-0 vs. Toronto. Just beat Brooklyn and Washington. That leaves Chicago that actually looks like the toughest match up for the Cats. This is crazy after the last 2 years. I know the East is bad, but who cares. That is the competition.

Posted by: Mike T. | Apr 7, 2014 2:41:38 PM

Well .. I may have to change my tune and agree w Sandy about the Pacers . The last few days have changed things to suggest that this may not be fixable . And some of this is in fact coaching Charlotean . To this end , Bird called out Vogel and said he was too lax w the players respecting holding them accountable . Bird insisted that they hire Brian Shaw an experienced no nonsense assistant coach if Vogel were to get the job . Shaw had more experience than Vogel did and some now claim the players don't respect Vogel as much as they did Shaw . West claims there was a time recently when ten shots went up and only one pass was made amongst those ten shots . Lol . That n part is on the coach for sure for failure to demand that they move the ball . What we can hope for is that he may have lost the team .

Others rumors abound about Lance not being happy that Turner was brought in . Turner it's said , has been a disaster . We always knew his defense was terrible . The other rumor is that Hbbert is upset bc Bynum was brought in . Bynum has the potential to be a cancer in a lockeroom . I think you may as well have thrown a grenade in the lockeroom w him .

Lance scored three points last night . Hibbert was given the ball 5 times in the first quarter and missed all his shots . Something is seriously wrong . One other problem always has been that they too have no pass first pt gd . In fact , in the last 5 games , the opposing sg has had more assists than Hill in each game . And you guys will love this .. I read last night that defenses like the Cats , w 4 players covering each corner of the paint , has been making the Pacers struggle .

For the Cats to win some games , the wings have to shine . They have tools to limit Jefferson and Kemba . Not shut them down but limit them from going off . It's going t be a grind game bc that's what both play . The recent struggles in the last two days changes things . To th extent it wll impact the series in two weeks does look better for the Cats since as recent as this weekend .

Ot . Zeller has shown he can pass from the mid block . This is huge . At 7 feet and closer inside , there's more available passes and easier ones to make . This is the beginning of bigs to bigs passing inside . A staple for all of Phil Jackson's and Pops teams.

Posted by: Iron man | Apr 7, 2014 3:58:34 PM

I love the comment for the Kings beat writers. Fittingly, they are the last mentioned. Fittingly, stuff does happen. And if we read between the lines, shit happens. And shit is their take on the organization. The Bee writers are terrible and still seem to hate Isaiah Thomas, and were pathetic apologists for lame-duck PG Greivis Vasquez when he was there.

Posted by: Paul | Apr 8, 2014 1:33:16 AM

If coaching is the issue, every team other than san antonio could be in the same boat because Pop is the only dude that could mind eff indiana out of their problems. There isn't another coach in the league with that kind of skill set.

Vogel is a top flight coach who would surely get scapegoated after a 1st round loss except larry legend is running the front office and he's smarter than that.

I actually think a matchup against the bobcats might be just what indiana needs to shake the funk. I'd much rather face toronto with the increased odds of 2 playoff series. second round would still be indiana. (or washington *gasp*)

either way it's going to be way more fun than it should have been. we've had a very very very lucky year. detroit, cleveland, and new york should have been better and atlanta was A LOT better before horford went down.

this ish with toronto being that high of a seed and indiana slipping is just more and more luck going our way. there is at least a 5-10% chance of a conference finals at this point which is insane. Could you imagine the confidence level for guys like MKG and Kemba and Zeller coming back off of that?

that would be how we would become what indiana became. chicago. okc. etc.

i'm dreaming, but i mean.....it's not entirely out of the question. we could get 17 playoff games in where we should have gotten 4.

i think this is the year durant gets his first.

Posted by: charlottean | Apr 9, 2014 10:46:16 AM

We certainly have been lucky and that luck has bred confidence. The Cats are gonna be a tough out no matter who plays them.

Posted by: apauldds | Apr 9, 2014 12:10:08 PM

Charlotte got a steal in Clifford, we were lucky to get two good tacticians in a row although Dunlap didn't pan out.

Look, anyone who wants to play Indiana in Round 1 b/c they're in a funk is out their mind. The Pacers would love to have us as a warmup so they can resolve their chemistry issues and get back to their old selves.

Posted by: The Dude | Apr 9, 2014 2:13:21 PM

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