Introducing the new Hornets Maven, powered by Sports Illustrated
My memory is a little fuzzy, but it was 2014 and I was sitting in one of my communications classes at Salisbury University. At one point, the professor asked everyone what they wanted to do with their degree when they finished up college.
Some said they wanted to cover politics. Some wanted to work for a big-city newspaper. Some wanted to work in public relations. All of that seemed kind of boring to me.
"I want to be an NBA beat writer," I said aloud, knowing in the back of my mind that the chances of me — a kid from Federalsburg, Maryland — covering an NBA team were slim, akin to Shaq swishing a three-pointer, or finding a proper crabcake outside of my home state.
I was a late-bloomer in finding my basketball fandom. Outside of the occasional game of HORSE on the street in front of my Dad's house, I didn't really play growing up. Instead, as an uncoordinated and overweight kid, I found that my best sport was football, playing on either side of the line in the trenches. But in high school, I started going to basketball games with my buddies and I loved it. The atmosphere, the energy, the x's and o's, everything. As a senior, two other friends and I joined the cheerleading squad to A.) hang out with girls and B.) to get into basketball games for free. In college, I fell in love with the NBA and started blogging about it at Sonics Rising and Bullets Forever.
Since that day in class at Salisbury University, I finished college, moved three times, worked as a one-man sports department at the Delmarva Daily Times, covered local news at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and freelanced for more outlets that I can count on my fingers and toes combined. I've covered playoff baseball, the NCAA tournament, the women's Final Four, the WNBA playoffs, college football, the MLS Cup and the best Division III lacrosse team in the country.
I've even covered a handful of NBA games, for Rivals and SB Nation, but I sort of let go of the dream that I'd ever be an NBA beat writer, that I'd cover a team day-to-day, that I'd dive in and focus my efforts on one team. Dr. Robert Doback might have accused me of losing my dinosaur.
I hadn't. I was doing what I always wanted to do — which is to write about sports for a living — I just wasn't covering the NBA. Which was fine.
But then I saw what Maven was doing — and that they were teaming up with Sports Illustrated, a magazine I've read since I was a kid — and I wanted to get involved. When they said they needed someone to cover the Hornets, and asked if that would be a good fit for me, I couldn't believe it.
The truth is, I don't know if I'll be a good fit. But I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to find out.
Most folks are projecting the Hornets to not be very good this season, but I'm not much interested in the victories and defeats. In a rebuilding — or "transition" — year for the Hornets, the losses might pile up, but there's still going to be stories to explore. Stories that the fans will still care about, no matter how many tallies are in the loss column. I want to learn more about the people around the Hornets. I want to know what James Borrego and Mitch Kupchak want to accomplish in Year Two. I want to know who's going to take the reins as the crunch-time scorer and the face of the franchise now that Kemba Walker has shipped up to Boston. I want to know if Willy Hernangómez can play as well for the Hornets as he did in the FIBA World Cup this summer. I want to know if Malik Monk is ready to make *the leap* and be a starter. I want to know how the Hornets will use their affiliate in Greensboro to develop young guys. I want to know what impact the new minority owners will have on the team.
And I want to take what I learn and deliver it to you, the fans in this community, in the form of original reporting, columns, videos, photos, analysis and whatever else I can think of. And then I want to talk about that coverage with y'all, either on here, or on Twitter.
Those stories might be long and weird, like this deep-dive on long snappers I did for SB Nation. Or they might be very personal, like this story on Vermont's Anthony Lamb. They might be fun and geeky, like this piece on the photographer who captured that RJ-Zion photo at the NCAA tournament. Or they might be about a young talent trying to find his way in a pro sports world, like this story about Atlanta United's Andrew Carleton.
Most of all, I want to make a place that Hornets fans keep coming back to. Let me know what y'all want. Is that film break downs? Mail bags? Historical deep dives? Oral histories? Podcasts? Gambling? Q&A's? Advice on where to get the best scrapple-egg-and cheese sandwich? (The answer is Johnny's Sub Shop in Salisbury, Maryland. Tell 'em I sent ya.)
I plan to be at most — if not all — of the Hornets home games this season, and I might make a few road trips with the team too. I'll try to take you courtside and inside the locker room, and give you content that you can't get anywhere else.
To make sure you don't miss a thing, sign up with Maven, then follow and become a member of this page. You can join with your email, Facebook or Twitter account and it's totally free.
(Also, if you're a fan of my work from reading me at another site, don't worry, I'll still be around those parts. But follow me along here, too, please.)
There's already some great people covering the Hornets and I'm looking forward to working alongside them.
Thanks for coming along on the ride.
Follow Mitchell on Twitter @primetimeMitch.