Tuesday, September 9, 2008

5 Questions With And One - Part Two

As promised, the continuation of my interview with Carolyn Hastings. If you missed Part One yesterday you can read it here

3. Is basketball the only sport that exists to you? How did your obsession/admiration for the sport evolve? What other sports, if any, do you follow and who are the teams you watch?

Basketball means the world to me. Not only does the NBA care, they put new life into this surgically-induced-menopausal, early-onset-osteoporosis, chronic-pain sufferer. On the eve of the Iraq war, March 18, 2003, wrapped in a blanket on the screamingly loud green and white striped loveseat which looked so nice in the store, watching Jodie Foster in Contact, the phone rang. Not a problem. Phone right there on the coffee table. Do you have a pen, the person on the other line, who will remain nameless and blameless, asked.

Hang on, I said, flinging the blanket aside and jumping off the couch, not realizing the blanket had wrapped itself around my left ankle. Come to think of it, the blanket was green, also. A nice green. And soft. But when I went right and the blanket went left, the ceramic floor all too quickly smashed into my entire left side cleanly breaking my patella in two. In fact, the phone also broke in two as it flew out of my hand, one half screeching to a halt under the kitchen table and the other half bouncing down the stairs into the bedroom of the nameless and blameless one.

So, you are asking yourself. What does this have to do with the NBA? And what is a patella? Unless of course, you are obsessed with the NBA like me and you already know that the patella is your kneecap. Until the moment I fell, basketball was a sport other people played; the reason my husband ran out early on one of our first dates when it was impossible to pry the nameless and blameless one from my leg and the babysitter's mom was gone for the evening so she couldn't leave our house either; the reason I cheered my lungs out when the nameless and blameless one's younger sister dribbled her little ambidextrous way down the sometimes parquet court; a game with no discernible pattern to the rules and where intentionally doing something wrong was part of the game plan and resulted in millions of people watching a single person try to put the ball in the basket from the free throw line, a feat my brother successful performed endlessly in our backyard but apparently when you add a nationwide audience, TV cameras and a recent collision with another enormous man, becomes a near impossible task.

But I digress.

Nine surgeries later, after it was discovered that not only my patella but my condial had broken and the cushioning disc in my left jaw socket ruptured and slid out of place and an amazing facial surgeon from Hudson saved my life, my dignity and restored my bagel-and-goat-cheese-per-day habit, I found myself recovering slowly slowly slowly and in great pain. Having a major pity party on an air mattress in the basement, my husband decided he had the cure. "Watch the playoffs," he said, "and you'll feel better." "Playoffs?" I asked. "What sport are we talking about now?"

"Basketball," I was informed. NBA. Spring 2005. Pistons. Spurs. Oh my. These people fly through the air. They twirl like dervishes. They dribble and sweat and the ball never touches their palms. They turn themselves inside out while flinging the ball at crazy angles and somehow making the shot. They curse. They foul. They care. And they have the best commercials I've ever seen.

Such a love affair. Such a summer of longing. And then, just when I thought I couldn't wait one more minute and just when I thought the game couldn't get any better, October arrives and King James fills the screen. The L-Train, the basketball prodigy, the man whose red and white sneakers look like the wicked witch of the west's socks.

"That's the kid from Akron," my husband says. Akron. Land of Temo's. I should have known the city with the best hand-made chocolate in the country would give birth to the world's greatest basketball player. In fact, Temo's offers tiny foil-wrapped chocolate basketballs. Coincidence?

"That's no kid," I say. James and Drew and Z, oh my. Curly-haired, soon-to-be-gone Andy. Donyell and Ira. Larry and Sasha. Mike Brown and his amazing changing eyeglasses. I witnessed them all. I was at the Q when Pop was evicted, ordered the NBA channel with DVR, and happily discovered TNT Tuesday / Thursday with Charles and Kenny.

But nothing prepared me for the most rewarding moment of all. "Now that's a kid," I said, as LB shouted his famous lines and T-shirt silk screen machines across the US began humming, "Shoot, Boobie, Shoot."

Other sports: Tennis. I will watch Roger Federer any time, anywhere.

4. What sports activities do you/have you participated in? Are you more of a spectator, supporter, or a participator? Any other exciting hobbies?

I have been, at different stages of my life, spectator, supporter, and participator.
As a kid, I played softball. We lived at the top of a court on almost half an acre. For the NJ suburbs, that was a lot of land. My brother taught me to play soccer (he was All-State that year) and football (my husband says he married me partially due to my wicked spiral) and ping pong and pool. Softball, however, was my favorite. As a lefty batter and hitter, I had a distinct advantage. My older sister was a softball nut, too. She coached fast-pitch and created The Maver Method, which she later sold. Last year she was Dennis Kucinich’s national campaign manager when he ran for president. But again, I digress.

Not sure why I never joined any organized sports in school. I remember 7th grade basketball tryouts; fear overcame me and I left the gym before tryouts began, convinced I would never remember the rules, be strong enough or accepted by the other team members. Wicked insecure as a child.

At the moment, I live vicariously through blogging and enjoy every minute of it.

5. What advice do you have for others who want to start a sports blog? Is this something you recommend as a living, hobby, or pastime? Where do you find your most interesting content? What are your favorite blogs to follow?


Blog from your heart and people will respond.

I would reach out to the owner/writer/editor of your favorite sports blog. It has been my experience that bloggers are more than willing to share their stories and mentor the newbies.

I cannot recommend blogging as a living; too few bloggers are compensated. And unless you have a million gazillon readers every day, advertising isn’t going to bring in enough to even pay for groceries. Plus, some readers dislike blog ads so you risk alienating a portion of your readership.

Interesting Content

I find some of the best stories from non-sports-related sites such as SlashDot. Sneaker Freaker is an excellent source for material. So is BallHype.

I regularly prowl Flickr, JPG, The Encyclopedia of Cleveland, The Cleveland Memory Project, Six Apart, 20x200, NothingButNets, Cleveland Leader, CleveScene, CoolCleveland, KarmaLoop, TorsoPants, Beijing Fan and team Web site forums.

Google is my best friend. Googling combinations of “LeBron,” “basketball,” “unique,” “Cleveland,” “Vintage” and random nouns often leads to interesting stories.

Favorite Blogs

There are so many great ones out there. No matter how many I list, someone will inevitably be left out. Since I’ve already talked about several, I’ll list a few I read that I haven’t mentioned yet: The Starting Five, Black Fives, Slam Dunk Central, World Hoops (a promising new blog), Kelly Dwyer’s Ball Don’t Lie column, Ball in Europe, A Stern Warning, I could go on all day. Check out the blogroll on And One for more.


mookie said...

Carolyn is one of the most interesting and unique bloggers you will find out there and I love reading her work. You are always sure to find a well written piece.

This interview was enlightening!

-- Mookie

Apryl DeLancey said...

That she is - I can only hope to be half as talented as she is!