All of the women covering NBA teams for SB Nation’s team brands have had unique experiences covering basketball. You can meet all of the women we’re featuring in this series in the first post, which you can find here. Learn about how they fell in love with the game in our second post, and read about the challenges they’ve faced in this field in the third post. The fourth post covers the other women in the industry they look up to.
In this fifth installment of our series celebrating these women, they discuss their favorite experiences covering the NBA for SB Nation’s team brands.
Bailey: I’ve covered Dirk Nowitzki’s charity celebrity baseball game twice, and that is probably my best experience with SB Nation. My proudest accomplishment is the piece I wrote in February detailing the ways in which the Mavs’ toxic work culture — uncovered by Jessica Luther’s investigation for Sports Illustrated — was a betrayal to the women who work for the Mavs, to the women who cover the team, and to the larger Dallas community.
Sarah: My favorite SB Nation NBA experience was being able to cover the Oklahoma City Thunder when they almost made it to their second NBA title game, but lost to the Spurs in the Western Conference Final. To see them in action, but with so much on the line, was so electric. It was the most fun I’ve ever had covering basketball.
Courtney: Bright Side Night is and has been my favorite part of working with SB Nation. The event raises money (ticket sales) for under privileged children to see a real live NBA basketball game once a year. I absolutely cannot be more excited about helping to facilitate the opportunity to expose children to not only a fun and positive experience, but also to all the important qualities for developing what I like to call “growing up skills” and healthy life style choices.
Being an athlete teaches you how to push yourself and explore possibilities. It teaches you about building relationships, and hard work, and the rewards of hard work. It demonstrates the importance of developing skills. For life. Meeting friends, working with people as a team.
Basketball is a game. Someone wins and someone loses. But just because you lose, doesn’t mean you didn’t “play” well or that it wasn’t worth it; in fact, it often means there is something to be learned. What better life lesson could anyone ask for than the key to understanding how to grow as a person? Athletes stay active. Teaching our children about exercise is weighted with an invaluable level of importance when it applies to their long term health and happiness. So … basketball equals happiness? Yes.
Ashley: My favorite SB Nation experience is truly just getting to know all the amazingly talented writers at the Denver Stiffs, and making a great group of new friends in the process. The basketball community is something that I love to be a part of. We all share a common bond over the game, and we all have very different perspectives of players, coaches, etc, but we all love the Nuggets and the game at the end of the day. Our readers are also the best. They’re always consistent, and they’re there to offer a comment on their perspective. That’s what this is all about — different walks of life finding common ground in the game of basketball.
Kayla: I would say my favorite SB Nation experiences have been the few times that I have gotten the opportunity to go “behind the scenes” of my favorite team. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a media pass to a few games during the past three seasons, and although I do not think I could ever be a regular member of the media (I do not have the personality for it at all), it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I was able to achieve a life-long dream of getting to go inside the locker room and see the players in a different environment. It’s something that I’m sure every diehard fan of a sports team dreams about doing at least once, and I’ll forever be grateful that I was able to do that.
Besides those experiences, I would also say it’s just been an absolute pleasure getting to meet so many people that share the passion I do. I truly enjoy getting to hear and read their insight into the team and the league on a daily basis and the fact that everybody that I have met in the Denver Stiffs and SB Nation community are great people is a cherry on top of it all. I don’t know what I would say my proudest accomplishment is, but I know that I am extremely grateful for how much I’ve learned about the sport in my time as a member of the SB Nation community — and I attribute that all to the other writers.
Grace: By far my favorite experience has been my job as GBB’s Gameday Editor. After working for the site a few years, I applied for the job and was really surprised I got it. It felt like a dream come true. At 18 years old, I got to attend media days, games, press conferences and more. I felt like I had worked really hard and earned my spot, and it was such a rewarding feeling to get the gig.
During my run as Gameday Editor, I got to attend Memphis Grizzlies games as a media member, attend the coach’s press conferences, interview NBA players at media days, visit NBA locker rooms and so much more. I would have to get to the game a couple hours early and stay an hour of so after the game ended before heading somewhere to write an 800-word recap, so it was a lot more work than my friends assumed it was. My favorite player growing up has been Marc Gasol, so it was pretty amazing to get to interact with him some and interview him. It was a lot of work involving many late nights, but I enjoyed every moment of it. I learned so much and met so many amazing people. It really felt like the opportunity of a lifetime.
Jannelle: My favorite SB Nation NBA experience is when I won Best of SB Nation NBA for two articles at Golden State Of Mind. I won in November for my piece about bickering Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant fans and in January for my piece about the Warriors and their focus issues. The awards were encouraging. The awards let me know that I am being heard.
Marilyn: My favorite experience writing for PtR has probably been getting to know other writers and fans from the site. I actually met one of my best friends through SB Nation. We were both frequent visitors at both Pounding the Rock and on Texas A&M’s SB Nation site, Good Bull Hunting (odd as it sounds, there are not as many people who are both Aggies and Spurs fans as you’d think), so we decided to meet at a Spurs game a few years ago and have been best buds ever since. I have also met several writers that I likely never would have known otherwise, and they are all so wonderful. It has all been such a rewarding experience for me, making it more than worth it.
Renee: I would have to say that my favorite SB Nation NBA experiences have been my proudest accomplishments. My first article on Tim Duncan helping the Virgin Islands and my first final score recap. They were both well-received, and I even garnered some compliments in the comments. I guess another favorite has been meeting several of my colleagues at a Spurs game and exchanging pointers and advice.
Michelle: I don’t know that I have a single experience or proudest accomplishment with SB Nation that stands out, but will say that generally the Clips Nation community is really fantastic, and it has been an extremely fun ride this season. Live tweeting during games is a particularly fun way to keep connected with other fans, and I love hearing others’ opinions and analysis of games and events (even when they disagree with me). Keeping up with injuries, the changing roster and loss of franchise players and fan favorites like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford certainly kept things interesting! I also enjoyed covering the BIG3 League last year, and expect to do that again this year. It was a great experience seeing former NBA players back on the floor.
Tara: My proudest accomplishment has probably been starting the Women’s Hoops And Talks (WHAT) Meetup here in Portland. When I wanted to find a group of women to watch games with I found that no such group existed in town. Some of the most ardent Trail Blazers fans I knew were women, but it was hard to find a critical mass of them in one place to watch a game together. I was at a Blazers’ Edge staff dinner and looked around the table at a bunch of wonderful writers/good people, none of whom (besides me) were women. I figured the only way I was going to experience sitting at a table of all women sitting around talking about women was if I created a space for it myself.
At the time I was co-hosting a “special edition” of the Blazer’s Edge podcast twice a month with another woman, named Jo. She found a great venue for us in a local restaurant that had a big screen that we could broadcast the games on. I found local small businesses who were willing to donate Blazers-themed merchandise to give away. We got together to watch an away game and had so much fun talking freely about whatever we felt like, not censoring our questions because we thought they were stupid or not “basketball-related.” We talked about parenting, boys growing up to be men, college majors, players’ lives and interests outside of basketball, and how we all came to love the game.
One mother brought her 28-year-old daughter who went to her first game at 2 months old. One woman was a former teacher who used to keep stats for Mo William’s high school team. Some women have always wanted to know more about the game but were afraid to ask. Some women knew a TON about the game and couldn’t find anyone who wanted to talk about it with them. What is so interesting about the group is that every woman brings her whole self to the meetup. We don’t just talk about sports, but we related to each other via sports.
It quickly became clear that meeting up once a month was not enough, so I started the WHAT Facebook group. We post articles of interest, both Blazers-specific and about the game of basketball. We keep it super-positive. Most women participate in other Blazer’s forums as well but they turn to WHAT to answer basketball questions, find a positive and funny atmosphere when things are not going well for the team, and even post their “hot takes,” which they might not want to share on larger channels for fear of having their ideas laughed at or mansplained — i.e., taken over by men.
The meetups are fun, the Facebook group brings in even more people, and I’m hoping that it continues to grow, both in numbers and in getting more women to create original content. About halfway through the season we started writing previews and I’m hoping that over the summer we can share content about other topics (they really like to learn more about the players and to know more about players who moved on to other teams). My secret goal is to find one or two more women (or more!) who want to join me as a writer on Blazers Edge. Then my biggest accomplishment will be when one of the WHAT ladies gets her first byline.
Marissa: My proudest accomplishment as part of SB Nation NBA is seeing other team sites hosting their own version of our Blazer’s Edge Night, where the site community rallies together to send 2,000+ students, teachers, and chaperones to a Blazers game. For most of these students, it is their first opportunity to attend a basketball game and the arena just buzzes with excitement from the time the doors open. It is incredibly inspiring to know that other SB Nation NBA communities are coming together to help their own communities.
Caitlin: I’m always amazed when I find out that people like Haley (The Ringer) or Matt Moore (formerly of CBS Sports and currently with Action Network) have read my work and actually thought that it was good or worth sharing. One such piece like that was my analysis on the dynamic between Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, together as well as apart. It was the 450th article that I published at Indy Cornrows, and I think it best represents me as a writer, as far as trying to convince readers to geek out as much about the game’s minutiae as I do. When my site manager isn’t indulging my desire to write 1,000 words on Bojan Bogdanovic reading screens or Thaddeus Young making it difficult for Giannis Antetokounmpo to dominate without a jump shot, sometimes I get out of my comfort zone and imagine who Victor Oladipo, a huge fan of the House of Mouse, would be if he were a Disney animated character.
China: I’ve always enjoyed the times we’ve had in-person meet-ups, because I’m more of an in-person person than an online person. In the world of print, however, I’m probably most proud if someone reads one of my pieces and wonders, for a moment, “Whatever happened to that friend who sold LSD sophomore year?” Examples would be this and this.
Kelsea: I haven’t really been doing this long, but I suppose my favorite experience is when I profiled the women behind the Raptors. They really do deserve some of the credit for holding it down so the team can be great. Oh, and Kyle Lowry’s mom shared it, so that was pretty cool!
Romy: After obsessing about the Celtics for decades, my most memorable experience was my very first 1-on-1, which was with Paul Pierce. I mean … what an incredible way to break the ice. Pierce is extremely generous with his time and attention, and even though listening to that interview still makes me cringe, I got some really good stuff out of it. Going from watching the games from home to having access to the locker room (even though I haven’t had a pass in the past few years) is still surreal.
Shirley: My favorite SB Nation experience has been the privilege of working with the other really fantastic writers at CelticsBlog and interacting with the fans who come to CelticsBlog for their NBA content. They are truly some of the best people on the earth. My proudest accomplishment is that after 12 years I’m still here plugging away and still getting to write about my favorite team.
Rachael: Every experience has been so incredible to me, it’s hard for me to choose a particular example. The first time I attended a game as media was so surreal to me — but then again, every game after that has been equally unreal.
One of my favorite experiences was a Wisconsin Herd game I covered that was closed to the public. There were maybe two other media members in attendance, and no one wanted to do postgame locker room but me. Keep in mind, this was my first month of being a credentialed media member. I spent postgame interviewing Shannon and Sterling Brown about playing together in the NBA, which was a really cool experience.
Also, a little gem that I will always cherish is a postgame moment in the locker room media scrum. Being the only woman in the locker room most of the time, it’s easy to get pushed out of the circle surrounding a player, and also extremely difficult to get a question in. There was a smaller crowd of media one game, and I started to ask Giannis a question before another reporter asked one louder than me. Giannis answered his question, and as another reporter began asking another question directly after, Giannis cut him off, looked at me and said something along the lines of, “Wait — didn’t you have a question? Ask yours.” It caught me completely off guard. He could tell I wasn’t able to get a question in, so he made sure I was able to ask one. I still smile whenever I think about it!