Before I began to write articles about the New York Knicks on other websites, I wrote on The Hardwood Nation. C.L. Anthony (The OG of Hardwood) welcomed me to write whenever and whatever I wanted, and I did. Working with C.L., and talking with the rest of the authors of the website improved my writing tremendously, and I can safely say that learning from Hardwood was instrumental in allowing me to grow my writing ability.
Through the past two years or so I’ve greatly enjoyed writing on Hardwood and sharing my ideas with everyone. Usually, C.L.’s the one asking me questions about what I’ll write, but in honor of the start of the new NBA season I’ll be the one asking C.L. a few questions about Hardwood, and the NBA.
1) How long has The Hardwood Nation been around? How did you first get idea to make it?
The Hardwood Nation began in 2010 under a different name. Over the last 6 years we’ve evolved and grown and that growth was often reflected in our name. We began as the Fans NBA which transformed into The Real NBA and then matured into The Hardwood Nation.
I’ve watched the NBA religiously since the 1992-93 season and I was a life long writer of fiction/fan fiction. Before “Embrace Debate” was popularized on sports tv and the air waves those conversations were being held at the water cooler, playgrounds, and barber shops.
By virtue of being a writer and having very strong NBA opinions I decided to put those thoughts online in a personal blog on MySpace. That was the beginning of Hardwood.
2) What was the hardest part about setting up Hardwood?
Ironically when MySpace was no longer the standard in social media I had to move my personal blog and at that time deciding between the platforms Blogger and WordPress. The choice then was blogger and learning how to manipulate html was an adventure to say the least.
I’ll also add that making the decision to move from a single person blog site to an NBA News, Rumors, and Opinion site was equally as hard by way of more manipulation of page layout and sections but also recruiting talent that shared the same passion as I.
3) What’s your favorite part about the website?
The Hardwood Nation Beat page in my favorite part of the website because it displays the full diversity of our staff when it comes to our opinions and experience. We have staff members who’ve been writing about the NBA for 20 and 30 years and then we have writers who’ve only been mastering their craft for a few months.
One can look over The Beat and gain a wealth of knowledge about the game that we all love.
4) What’s your favorite type of article to write?
Hard hitting topics are my favorite. In the past I’ve cover the 2011 NBA lockout, the Donald Sterling Incident, and Rajon Rondo in a sense outing referee Bill Kennedy. Those are just a few but it’s easy to get caught up in the good of the game but sometimes the not so good “stories” have to be covered as well.
5) Whats in store for Hardwood in the future?
International Coverage is something that I’ve had my eyes on for a while. I want to tap into it through partnership with other NBA Blogs from around the world. There are logistics and language barriers but never say never because it could happen sooner than later.
Original Video Content is another avenue that Hardwood will delve into in the very near future. The only reason that it hasn’t been done yet is because I refuse to have any content on The Hardwood Nation that’s a carbon copy of other sites. I try to be as original as possible so when the time and presentation is right, the video content will soon follow.
6) Who’s your pick for MVP this season?
Russell Westbrook can do no wrong! That’s been my motto for years now; since 2012 when I opened the season with a Westbrook Showcase article. He is the media’s darling now which goes a long way towards winning the NBA’s MVP award. The other thing that could hinder him is the win total for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. If they can somehow land in the top 4 in the Western Conference, then he will walk away with the award should he have an equal season to last year’s season.
7) If you could pick any player in the league to build a franchise around who would you pick?
Coming off the last question this is an easy one. Again that guard in Oklahoma City is the guy and here’s why. The sexy pick would be LeBron James and he would be my second choice but there’s time when you need someone who simply does give a F..K and that’s Westbrook 1000% of the time. There’s good and bad but it’s that mentality that separates him from the others. Physically he’s the most gifted point guard that the game has ever seen and the game is now being played from the outside in where in my youth it was played from the inside out. Today’s game is catered towards the type of player that Westbrook is and just like James, the potential for a Triple Double is always there.
8) Who is the best scorer in the league?
Stephen Curry without a doubt.
9) Who is the best defender in the league?
LeBron James via sheer physicality, speed, and size. He’s the only player in the league who can guard all five positions and do it well.
10) What was the best NBA season in your recent memory? Can this season top it?
The 1996-97 season will also be my favorite from a fandom stand point. I was probably around your age at the time and two teams that I followed both ended up in the conference finals, one in the east (Miami Heat) and the Houston Rockets out west. There was a huge possibility that they could have faced each other in the NBA Finals which would have caused me to go into hiding at the time.
You also had the fantastic 1996 draft class which featured Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and others and also that season featured Shaquille O’Neal make his monumental move from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Last but not least the NBA announced the 50 Greatest Players to ever play the game and had them spotlighted during that season’s All-Star Weekend.
The league is bigger now thanks to the influx of young fans and the rise of social media but I can’t see a scenario where any season going forward will top the 1996 season.
With that said, this season will be great!
11) Which team is the most overrated this season?
I may upset some here but the Minnesota Timberwolves. I’m just not sold on them yet. Will they make strides? Yes, but they’ll still be fighting for one of the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference. They must continue to grow together but in order to do that they’ll have to lose just a little more. The Western Conference weakened a little, but not enough for the Timberwolves to make noise yet.
12) Which team is the most underrated this season?
The Philadelphia 76ers, any move forward for them is one that’s unexpected but I fully expect them to be in the Eastern Conference playoff race through All-Star Weekend. Just like with the Timberwolves, the Sixers need to learn how to grow together and they’ll be much more losing but they have the benefit of playing the Eastern Conference.
13) Do any teams other than the Cavs and Warriors have a legit shot at winning the title?
Barring injury to the Cavs or Warriors I don’t see anyone else rising to the challenge. Many overreacted to the San Antonio Spurs victory over the Warriors on opening night but the Warriors will have enough to move by them. In the east the Knicks could give the Cavs a good shot (More on that later) but there will be a rubber match for the NBA Championship this season.
14) Who is your favorite player to watch in the NBA right now?
Haha, everyone should know by now, Russell Westbrook!
15) How do you feel about the league allowing teams to place ads on jerseys starting next season?
Being a purest at first glance I was annoyed by the move but if it can strengthen the league then I’m all for it.
16) We always hear about the old NBA being “tougher” than current-day NBA. How true is this?
It’s so true that there’s no comparison. Slashing and passing lanes that are open on a nightly basis now would not have been open so easily during the “old NBA”. Allowing hand checking then was a huge advantage for defense then where now players can move freely and virtually contact free (Steph Curry). And on the offensive end picks that players set then were much harder than the soft picks that are set now but that’s the way the league wanted it. They wanted to up scoring so rules were manipulated to allow it.
17) As a heat fan, was it more painful seeing Dwyane Wade or LeBron leave Miami?
Having LeBron James in Miami was a business arraignment where both parties benefited. I always knew he would return to Cleveland but I thought it would come later in his career. Seeing Wade walk away hurt, there’s no other way to describe it but the door will be open for his return and I will be waiting. Until then he doesn’t exist in my world.
18) What does the future look like for your Heat? My Knicks?
As long as Pat Riley and the Heat Culture exists, the Miami Heat will be fine. I’m excited about the underdog role and that will actually help the team on most nights when they’re overlooked. I truly believe the Heat will make the playoffs in the east because having Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside is enough to get them there.
Your New York Knicks had one of the best off-seasons and once they learn how to play together the Knicks could very well challenge the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. One huge factor will be the health of Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. If those two can stay healthy the Knicks will have a shot come seasons end to make major noise in the East. They’re built to be playoff ready.