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Monday, June 22, 2009

Deconstructing Bad Writing: Krolik's Slam Job on Kobe Bryant, Part II

Part I of this series examined John Krolik's deeply flawed article about why game seven of the Lakers-Rockets series would prove to be the biggest game of Bryant's career.

I casually referenced Krolik's article a few times in posts/comments at 20 Second Timeout, prompting Krolik to author a lengthy rebuttal. This post is my response to that rebuttal.

Part II: Krolik's Rebuttal


Krolik's website is called "Cavs: The Blog," so it is hilarious that he repeatedly indicates that he does not consider me to be objective. Pot, may I introduce you to the kettle? Check out the first paragraph of Krolik's rebuttal:

The fact is this: it’s going to be a long off-season. The team fell short of expectations, and we’re going to be hearing stuff like some of what’s leaked its way into the comments sections here over the last couple of days. And even if we were to trade Pavlovic for CP3 tomorrow, there’s still going to be a weight of expectations unfufilled that are going to hang over this team for a long time, and without any games to fill the void, it’s going to be rough for a bit.

"Even if we (emphasis added) were to trade Pavlovic for CP3 tomorrow, there’s still going to be a weight of expectations unfufilled that are going to hang over this team for a long time..." Apparently, I missed the memo announcing that Krolik had joined the Cavs' front office. That sentence contains the same kind of mixed up language ("there's still going to be a weight of expectations..." instead of "there are") so prominently featured in the original article. You will note that Krolik's rebuttal is littered with misspelled words, grammatical errors and awkwardly constructed sentences. When I found out that he had attacked me I laughed at the very idea of someone who can barely write coherently trying to engage in a war of words with me; this brings to mind the old saying about bringing a knife to a gunfight, except this is more like a broken plastic knife versus a cruise missile.

Krolik says that he is "unhappy" about being "mentioned...quite unfavorably" at 20 Second Timeout. He grumbles about the fact that I did not link to his article and goes off on a tangent in which, among other things, he calls me "a man who certainly, at the very least, doesn’t mind dragging folks into the mud if the opportunity presents itself." What does that have to do with Krolik's article and my criticisms of it? Nothing, of course. How can a bad writer who does not think clearly defend poorly thought out, bad writing? He has no choice but to resort to ad hominem attacks. Hey, I am used to this; Krolik is not the first bad writer who responded to me by using such tactics, as I discuss in the Postscript.

Krolik proceeds to list persons/entities
who he says are my "enemies." Apparently, Krolik considers Slate to be an enemy of mine because I disagreed with something that Slate published. Krolik's thinking in this regard is very immature. I am not at war with Slate or anyone else who Krolik listed; I simply expressed dissenting viewpoints regarding various articles.

Krolik suggests that his readers visit Ballhype and read the comments that I have posted on other people's articles. This is his attempt to prove that I am a bad person and thereby convince himself that my criticism of his article is the product of my maliciousness as opposed to an objective evaluation of his flaws as a writer/basketball commentator. The Ballhype comments make more sense if you click on the relevant threads and read them in context because otherwise you are just reading one side of various ongoing discussions but in any case it is obvious that most of my comments were not hostile. The first "hostile" comment that is listed is almost all the way down the page and it is my response to Kelly Dwyer stating--incorrectly--that I voted down a certain article and that I consistently voted down other people's articles. Dwyer told a bold faced lie in order to make other bloggers feel antagonistic toward me and even though the voting records are confidential I told the Ballhype owners that they had my permission to reveal my voting records to prove that Dwyer lied. In a later comment I also pointed out that anyone who monitored my voting habits as closely as Dwyer alleged that he did would know that the number of "no" votes registered in my name (a stat that Ballhype publicly tracked) had not increased during the relevant time period, proving that I did not vote down the article in question and that therefore Dwyer lied. My refutation of Dwyer ended that thread.

Nearly halfway through his purported rebuttal, Krolik finally gets around to actually discussing his article. Krolik says, "As I noted in the article, a loss in that game would have been by far the most damaging loss of Kobe’s career." As I mentioned in Part I of this series, Krolik stated that premise somewhat awkwardly in the first paragraph and then rambled aimlessly for a stretch before returning to that theme--via a David Foster Wallace quote--at the end. Krolik's contention is faulty and his writing is slipshod both in terms of content and craftsmanship. This is Krolik's interpretation of my critique: "Mr. Friedman seems to think the upswing was 'Hey, if Kobe loses, we can say he SUCKS!' Why I would not have waited to write this article until after the Lakers would have lost is unclear if this was my only interest."

No, my critique of Krolik's reasoning skills and writing ability goes quite a bit deeper than Krolik imagines; I think that what he wrote is illogical but even worse than that he disingenuously wrote the article in a fashion that enabled him to have the best of both worlds, from his biased perspective: Krolik bizarrely asserted that the Lakers had an easy road to the title if they could get by Houston, giving himself an excuse to dismiss the game's importance if the Lakers won. However, by later rambling back toward his original statement that this was the biggest game in Bryant's career, Krolik couched his words in a way to leave open the possibility of writing a very critical piece about Bryant if the Lakers lost.

Sure enough, Krolik says that because the Lakers won in a blowout, "Game 7 became an insignificant footnote." If the game carried such weight for Bryant's legacy, how can the outcome be "insignificant"? Are we really supposed to believe that a die-hard Cavs fan like Krolik would have thought that a Lakers' loss was insignificant, even if Bryant performed very well? After all, as a Cavs fan Krolik feels compelled to downgrade Bryant in order to elevate James, something that I have never done with either player; I have consistently said that they are the two best players in the game today. It is ironic that some of the people who commented on Krolik's rebuttal implied that I am someone who bashes James in order to praise Bryant. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that I have praised both players extensively and I evaluate them objectively using the same skill set based criteria that I use to evaluate all players.

Imagine if the Cavs won a game that the proprietor of "Cavs: The Blog" had declared to be hugely important for LeBron James' legacy. Do you suppose that he would not write anything in the aftermath of such a game? Krolik made a big deal about this game seven but, after the Lakers eliminated the Rockets, Krolik threw the whole issue down the memory hole.

The use of "advanced basketball statistics" provided one of the sidebar stories to the L.A.-Houston series, because the Rockets asserted that they used such concepts to devise the best possible defensive scheme to use against Bryant. I covered that angle of the series with a lot of depth, but Krolik dismisses my work by quoting a fragment from one sentence that I wrote--"after this series is over the New York Times should do a followup article detailing how Bryant overcame Houston’s defensive preparation by utilizing his skill set strengths to maximum effectiveness"--and then snidely remarking, "Take note, SLAM during playoff time and the New York Times Magazine: If you don’t fufill your puff piece responsibilities on Kobe Bryant, the public will not stand for such a wanton disregard of their need to be informed." I hardly am interested in reading or writing a "puff piece" about anyone. Check out the right hand sidebar here: do you see any puff pieces? Krolik's attempts to mock me--complete with spelling errors and awkward sentence construction--are hilarious and yet pathetic.

Krolik then makes some more snide remarks while wondering why I would attack a SlamOnline piece since I wrote some articles a while ago for SlamOnline. If you write for a publication does that mean you should never disagree with anything that is published there? He mocks the Scouting Report: Kobe Bryant Vs. LeBron James that I wrote for SlamOnline almost a year ago. Read it and judge for yourself who writes better, who understands the sport better and who is more unbiased; keep in mind that I wrote the article prior to the 2009 season and I
amended my evaluation slightly by the end of the season. Don't hold your breath waiting for Krolik to produce a coherent, in depth and objective comparison of Bryant and James.

After professing that he got the SlamOnline job purely based on his talents and not his networking abilities, Krolik writes, "It’s pretty clear that what I really did was make a percieved slight of Mr. Friedman’s favorite player-if that article had been about anyone else, I do not imagine my abilities getting publicly called into question. What Mr. Friedman is essentially attempting to do is to use Kobe Bryant’s considerable basketball proficiency to prove my essential worthlessness as a professional and a human being." Note once again the misspelled word and the awkward sentence structure; apparently, Krolik believes that poor spelling and lack of writing ability are much sought after "talents" at SlamOnline and ESPN.com--and, based on the stuff that they publish, he may be right!

My favorite player is Julius Erving, not Kobe Bryant, but I am able to write objectively about Erving, Bryant and all other NBA players because I take my craft seriously. I don't think that Krolik is "worthless" as a human being. His article about the significance of the Lakers-Rockets game seven is very poorly thought out and very poorly written. I also wonder what value the editors of ESPN and SlamOnline see in such work. The fact that Kobe Bryant is the subject of Krolik's piece is irrelevant to my assessment. I have criticized various publications for sloppy/unprofessional articles about players ranging from LeBron James to Dave DeBusschere to Daequan Cook. If Krolik had said that LeBron James' career will be defined by the number one seeded Cavs losing to the Orlando Magic I would have responded the same way that I am responding now.

Postscript:

If you read the comments section in Krolik's rebuttal piece you will see some additional references to my "feuds" with various people. Those "feuds" happened a while ago and most people probably do not know the details, so I will take this opportunity provide the correct information; it is tiresome to hear the allegation that I seek out "feuds" when the reality is that I am the one who has been the victim of classless behavior by the very people I am accused of wronging--and it tells you a lot about Krolik's character that instead of researching these incidents he simply tried to create a diversion by attacking me. Krolik proved that he would stoop to any tactic to avoid dealing with the real issue at hand: his poorly written article about Bryant and the shockingly low quality of his writing in general at "Cavs: The Blog" and various other outlets.

My "feud" with Kelly Dwyer happened after I read one of his articles (my first mistake) in which he bragged about how many basketball games he watches each day--it worked out to something like 27 hours a day of basketball. I made a comment at a blog called Hardwood Paroxysm in which I alluded to someone--I never mentioned Dwyer's name--who watches basketball more than 24 hours a day. That is pretty mild stuff in the Wild West climate of blogs; people have certainly said much worse things about me. Dwyer then fired off an email to me fuming that everyone in the world knew exactly who I was talking about (at least he doesn't have an inflated sense of his importance) and that I should have been man enough to first write to him directly, as if I need advice from him about how to be a writer and a man. He offered some elaborate explanation of how he watches the key portions of 10 different games but not all of the footage of all of these games; the original passage in his article did not make that clear at all or explain how he magically is able to only watch the essential game segments. After I responded politely but correctly that it is not my fault that in his article he did not clearly express what he meant Dwyer sent me an expletive-filled email. I initially posted that email on 20 Second Timeout so that everyone could see just how much bile oozes out of him but then thought better of it and took the post down.

My "feud" with the blog Basketbawful consisted of my attempts to politely correct his/their mistaken impression that Steve Nash is a more valuable player than Kobe Bryant. You can read my post on that subject here. Basketbawful responded by making fun of my physical appearance. I replied with a post in which I chided Basketbawful for veering off topic and attempted to steer the conversation back to the subject at hand. That exchange took place several years ago and the passage of time has not made Basketbawful's case for Nash versus Bryant any more compelling. Like Krolik, the Basketbawful crew are unabashed fans who do not pretend to be unbiased; the Basketbawful crew make it quite clear that they despise Kobe Bryant--and yet they assert that I am the one who lacks objectivity. Let's see, Larry Bird, Jerry West, Mark Jackson, Steve Smith, Jeff Van Gundy and countless other players/coaches/executives speak about Bryant in largely the same terms that I do--Jackson and Smith actually say that Bryant is better in some respects than Michael Jordan--but a guy running "Cavs: the Blog" and some clowns who don't even use their real names are the unbiased, objective observers. Right.

Later, I "feuded" with some guy named Kellex, who tried to cover a conference call about SlamBall without using a tape recorder or taking notes; he published a "transcript" riddled with errors--he misattributed various questions and quotes--and when I contacted him and politely suggested that he correct what he posted he made fun of my physical appearance. Here is a post that I made about that incident. There is something seriously wrong with a person who is so unprofessional about his work and then lashes out so viciously when someone else tries to help him. I'd never heard of Kellex before that time and all I tried to do was help him out by sharing with him the information from my transcript (I tape recorded the conference call). I assumed--wrongly--that someone who is so obviously inexperienced and clueless would welcome some assistance from someone who is an experienced writer/interviewer. Kellex' writing skills are actually even worse than Krolik's, so I am surprised that Kellex is not an NBA editor at ESPN.com or SlamOnline.

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not self-conscious about my appearance and I could not care less about the opinions of fools--particularly ones like Basketbawful and Kellex who don't even use their real, full names or post real pictures of themselves--but my point is that all I contributed to these so-called feuds were my attempts to analyze basketball in a professional manner (or have a little fun with Dwyer for taking himself so seriously). I learned that Dwyer is pompous, humorless and vindictive; I already knew that he writes in a ponderous, deliberately obscure style that obfuscates more than it clarifies. I also began to realize just how much the basketball blogging universe resembles nothing so much as a snobbish high school clique. You don't have to do much research to see that Henry Abbott, Kelly Dwyer, Basketbawful and a few others repeatedly link to each other and promote each other's work. Krolik has skillfully maneuvered himself into the good graces of that clique and this will surely lead to his rapid advancement in the field even if he never actually learns how to write well. Many bloggers seem to think that they have to bow down to these guys but I have never kowtowed to anyone and I never will.

If being honest and objective has cost me "friends" in this business it really has not cost me anything at all, because I would not want to be associated in any way with people like Dwyer, Basketbawful and Kellex. Their responses to me revealed their lack of character and I am grateful that I learned the truth early enough to keep a wide berth from all of them.

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:07 AM

28 comments

links to this post

28 Comments:

At Monday, June 22, 2009 3:17:00 AM, Blogger West Coast Slant said...

Very interesting and eye-opening posts David. As I've continually said, the more and more I read your work, the more convinced I am that this is the best place to find insightful basketball commentary.

I enjoy reading about basketball (and writing about it for that matter) and I used to go to ESPN and YahooSports for articles to read. I have noticed a significant decline in the quality of writing from Chris Broussard (who is the definition of DUMB) to Kelly Dwyer to Bill Simmons, etc. etc. I was wondering what blogs/articles you read and if you could post some links to those sites so that those of us who would like to stop going to ESPN and YahooSports for half-ass writing can get our fill of real sports journalism.

cheers

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 3:19:00 AM, Anonymous aya said...

You make a lot of sense David and I respect your craft. I take shelter in your blogs and I must admit I root for Kobe. But I respect all the other guys' games too. I hate reading suck-full comments and I don't hate anyone. Maybe just so much love for Kobe especially that there's so much hate focused on him and for Christ's sake he has a life. I believe each man is his own, like Jordan will be the only one and no one else will be Michael Jordan. Same is true for LeBron James and so on. But I understand that it's a very competitive world. I'm just glad that there's still someone as sensible as you.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 4:56:00 AM, Blogger Anthony Wilson said...

Sheesh, you don't hold back, do you Jason?

All I have to say is that I remember reading the SLAMonline Krolik piece in question when it was first posted, and commented on it in the comments index. I though it was very good, and I agreed with it - sort of. I thought it was the most important game of his career - but only if they lost. But I suppose that's besides the point. Krolik occasionally makes some technical errors and what not, as you point out, but they are more or less blemishes - you wish they weren't there, but they aren't really taking away from the gist of the article or the overall quality. I think Krolik is a very good writer, maybe the best young basketball writer in the game right now - and certainly the most accomplished young gun. I do enjoy his work.

David, you are a professional, I like to think of you as the blogging equivalent of that athlete who you don't really pay that much attention to, but you know he's good and every time you check up on him he's delivering the goods. You know the game as well as anyone, I think your writing is great without being flashy and you probably deserve more of a mainstream role.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I have to say that I think you may have kick-started a blogging World War with this most recent post and I'm just glad I'm around to witness it. In the end, though, I hope you guys can call a truce, and that maybe you can be a little less harsh on Krolik because afterall he is just a kid in this game.

Peace,
Antwonomous

P.S. Check me out:

http://antwonomous.blogspot.com/

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 6:33:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

West Coast Slant:

Good basketball writing is extremely hard to find now. I like Mark Heisler of the L.A. Times. Sam Smith is good, though I am not even sure who he writes for now that he left the Chicago Tribune. Charley Rosen is always interesting but sometimes he is provocative or just wildly off base (in an otherwise interesting article he recently suggested that Scottie Pippen is a long shot to make the Hall of Fame but I suspect that Pippen will be a first ballot selection considering that he made the Top 50 list more than a decade ago). I like that Rosen views the game through the eyes of a coach/scout. I enjoy Roland Lazenby's work, though I have not seen anything by him recently; I think that he is working on a book about Jerry West.

I read less current basketball writing now than I ever have because I keep running into garbage that makes my blood boil and I constantly have to decide whether to just ignore it, comment on it briefly--which is what I initially did regarding Krolik's article--or take the time and effort to write a full blown refutation, which is what I decided to do about Krolik's article since he issued a rebuttal to a critique that I never actually wrote. Krolik focused more on making allegations about me than addressing what is wrong with his piece; if someone who can barely write a coherent sentence is going to pretend that I am just some mean-spirited person who is stirring up trouble then that quickly gets my attention and results in the thorough refutation that I just did of Krolik's article. Krolik should consider himself very lucky that he has the opportunities he has considering how unqualified he is for the job. The last thing that I need is to be lectured and harangued by someone who is incompetent.

Hopefully at some point the mainstream publications will hire competent editors who in turn will hire and nurture competent writers but right now the incompetent people have a stranglehold on a large segment of the business and it is hardly in their self-interest to hire people who are competent, particularly when they are so busy promoting each other.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 6:37:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

aya:

I agree that each player should be appreciated in his own right and that it is not necessary to denigrate one player in order to praise someone else. Kobe and LeBron are both marvelous players and I have never felt like I have to belittle either of them.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 6:58:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anthony Wilson:

Who is the Jason that you mentioned?

I just don't buy that a second round game seven could possibly be the most important game in Kobe's career, win or lose. Kobe has accomplished too much already for that to be true and he is young enough that he can still accomplish a lot more. Magic lost in the first round to the Rockets in 1981. Did that "define" his career? Just about any player whose career lasted long enough experienced a playoff upset.

The whole premise of Krolik's article is bogus and what makes it worse is (1) he is a very unskilled writer and (2) he hemmed and hawed so much in the middle portion of the article that he gave himself an out to bash Kobe if the Lakers lose but to dismiss the game if the Lakers win. The whole thing is just garbage, period--poorly thought out and poorly written. Krolik's attempted defense of his article is every bit as poorly thought out and poorly written as the original article. His writing is littered with mistakes, which reflects badly on him (in terms of his blog) but also on his editors at SlamOnline--but this does not surprise me, because Slam's recent "New Top 50" article is also filled with mistakes, as I mentioned in a recent post.

If Krolik is the best young writer in the basketball world then that is truly sad but I don't believe that you are correct about that. Krolik is someone who has very skillfully parlayed his contacts into opportunities to advance himself. His work is well below what should be the standard for a professional writer in terms of basic proficiency, let alone the finely honed skills one would expect a professional writer to have.

I am neither interested in participating in some blogging "World War" nor do I see a need for some kind of "truce." I stated very clearly and precisely exactly what is wrong with Krolik's article in particular and his writing in general. It is impossible to construct a rational defense of his writing, so any "war" is just going to consist of more of the nonsense that I have already been through with Dwyer, et. al--name calling, bullying, false statements and so forth. If these fools want to once again reveal their true character to the world that is their problem.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 1:02:00 PM, Blogger Anthony Wilson said...

Darn, I called you Jason, then got it right in the same comments. Who the hell is Jason Friedman. He's somebody, I think.

But yeah, I meant David. My bad.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 3:42:00 PM, Blogger vednam said...

I actually do not regularly read any basketball blogs except for yours. Rightly or wrongly, I assume that blogs usually have amateurish quality and content so I don't bother with them. I think I found your blog about three years ago while doing a google search for interviews of certain players (and became a regular reader after observing the high quality and thorough coverage).

Based on my own prejudices, I wonder if the blog format prevents you from getting the same respect and readership you might otherwise enjoy. Though I don't care much for most writers on espn.com or cnnsi.com, I still visit those sites because of the information they are able to provide through direct access to players, coaches, and others involved with the game. When I think of blogs, I think of a guy like me who has no direct access to the game (and subpar writing skills) sitting at home and sloppily writing down my opinion. In any case, your blog is much better than that, and I do not know if other people have the same views as I do about blogs.

Like you, I appreciate the way Charley Rosen tries to view the game through the eyes of a coach. It's a refreshing departure from the standard two or three predetermined storylines that most writers like to rehash. However, Rosen is simply a liar and a very biased individual. After reading just a few of his articles, one can get a good idea of who he personally dislikes (Wilt, Kareem, Magic, etc.) and who he's in love with (Phil Jackson, Tex Winter, etc.). He often mixes in personal attacks on various people he doesn't like with his basketball analysis (for instance, he'll speculate that a certain person is in it for the the money, or is a phony, etc.).

I don't know what Wilt Chamberlain did to Rosen, but Rosen hates him enough to make up fictional accounts of big games in order to portray Wilt in the worst way possible. (See http://www.amazon.com/Pivotal-Season-1971-72-Angeles-Changed/dp/0312325096/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245697610&sr=8-1 for details of just some of the lies in Rosen's book on the 1972 Lakers). When someone goes that far, they lose credibility.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 5:19:00 PM, Blogger FreeCashFlow said...

Winning and losing seems to skew people's perceptions much more than it should.

Is there anyone in their right mind who would say that Steve Nash is a better player than Kobe? Yet when Nash's team was better, it seemed a lot more plausible to some (but not me) that Nash could be the superior player.

And yes, Krolik's column was a blatant hatchet job meant to be a set up piece to criticize Kobe in case the Lakers lost to Houston.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 5:37:00 PM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

Disagree. Krolik is essentially learning on the job (I believe that he's still an undergraduate), and every article that he writes is of higher quality than the last. I don't find his writing difficult to read, and I think that he's trying to do something relatively unique in sportswriting these days - writing thoughtful, reasoned analysis that avoids the "big story" cliches, while still getting at the personalities of players involved. David, I often enjoy your writing, but I think the vitriol you're employing here (particularly your grammarian slant - granted, Krolik has a few typos, but he's a talented writer with his own burgeoning style, and clearly understands basic English) is a bit over the top. Let's stick to basketball, please.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 6:18:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anthony:

The fact that you correctly used my name later in your comment is why I was so perplexed when you mentioned "Jason." No big deal; I just wondered what you meant or if you were referring to someone who had commented in another thread.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 6:31:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Vednam:

I don't think that the blog format is a drawback. Perhaps it would be a problem if I had yet to get paying gigs but I have been published in many mainstream publications--ranging from Basketball Digest to Hoop to Lindy's Pro Basketball to Chess Life Online, etc.--so I have already more than proved that I can meet deadlines while submitting copy that adheres to various word count and stylistic guidelines. If we are to believe Krolik, then he was discovered on the basis of his blog--and, let's face it, the quality of writing on his blog is terrible. The quality of the writing at 20 Second Timeout does not have to take a back seat to anything that is being published about the NBA. I don't even care anymore if that sounds arrogant or people are turned off by that. It's the truth. I've tried networking with the people who run this business and until recently I never talked this way about my writing but the fact is that simply producing quality work does not get you anywhere in a field that is dominated by a pompous clique consisting if people who act like immature kids. This is not even really about Krolik; it is about the decision making process of the editors at ESPN, Yahoo!, SlamOnline, etc. Are the editors at those sites really proud of the content that they are providing?

We have talked about Rosen before and I share some of your concerns about certain things that he has written. That is why I offered such a qualified recommendation of his work. Some of his work is outstanding but I agree with you that some of the stances he takes are questionable at best. We all know that he is a close friend of Phil Jackson and that relationship probably colors his perceptions of Chamberlain and others. I have no idea what Rosen has against Pippen and cannot recall him previously saying anything that asinine about the six-time champion. Still, even with his flaws and blind spots, Rosen is easily better than 95 percent of the basketball writers currently working in the field.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 6:49:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Free Cash Flow:

The Bryant-Nash issue is what "inspired" Basketbawful to go off on a tangent about me, because he/they could not come up with any rational way to refute my skill set based comparison of both players. Around that time someone--maybe Vednam--told me that I should not even respond to such a garbage site and give it more publicity; ironically, after hooking up with the Abbott-Dwyer clique the Basketbawful crew have been able to raise the profile of their site quite significantly even though the quality of their work has not increased one bit.

My concern is not limited just to Krolik but rather to the whole way that this business functions. The business model is broken and the quality of one's work is unfortunately irrelevant. I realize that I sound arrogant when I say this but, as I mentioned before, I really don't care. It has been obvious for quite some time that I will never be a member of the "clique," not that I want to be or would kiss anyone's ass to do so. My attitude at this point is simple: back when Lee Iacocca rescued Chrysler he said, "If you can find a better car, buy it." If anyone really believes that the writing at ESPN.com, SlamOnline, Yahoo!, etc. is better than the writing here, then don't come here; it's not like I'm charging anyone to come here anyway or that I am obsessed with my traffic numbers. I just don't care. I write the truth as I see it and I do so to the best of my abilities. It's frustrating to see people who have no talent "get ahead" but the reality is that life is not fair. If I am not mistaken, a billion people in this world have to get by on less than $1 a day, so whether or not my writing is properly appreciated simply is not that big of a concern in the grand scheme of things; even someone who is as arrogant as I am understands that reality.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 7:07:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Sweat of Ewing:

I didn't realize that Abbott's True Hoop Network is actually providing on the job training. Abbott has always insisted that he links to the best basketball writing, not that he is trying to find and develop people whose writing skills are raw (at best).

I don't know whether or not Krolik is improving but his skills are well below what should be expected of a professional writer who has a byline at large websites.

Far from "avoiding 'big story' cliches," the Krolik article in question was nothing but a tired rehash of various cliches about Bryant's career. One could make a much better case that the Cavs losing to the Magic is a "defining moment" for LeBron James than that the Lakers losing to the Rockets in game seven--which of course did not come close to actually happening--would have been a "defining moment" for Bryant. Mind you, I don't for one second think that James should be "defined" by this loss but the vast majority of teams that win 66 regular season games win the championship. Nowitzki's Mavs failed and Nowitzki still gets grief about it. The only other such team that fell short, the '73 Celtics, went down because Havlicek got hurt--and those Celtics won two titles in the next three years. James' supporting cast was good enough to post the best record in the NBA but fell short in the playoffs. If that happened to Bryant, a lot of people would say that Bryant "failed to make his teammates better" and that he tried to do too much. If he played the way that James did versus Orlando--dominating the ball--they would say that Bryant hogged the ball and got his teammates out of rhythm. Again, let me emphasize that I don't agree with such reasoning--but one could make a much stronger "anti-LeBron" case based on that kind of thinking than the muddled "anti-Kobe" case that Krolik threw together with poor grammar and awkward sentence construction.

Strong chess grandmasters often say that until a player reaches a certain level it is not accurate to even speak of his "playing style"; you have to master the fundamentals of the game before you have enough skills to develop a unique style. Krolik is barely able to write coherently, so I laughed when you spoke of his "burgeoning style." That is a joke. From the muddled lead sentence to the mid-article rambling to the confused conclusion, Krolik's article about Bryant is poorly thought out and poorly written; he did not display a unique writing style any more than does a weak chess player who makes four blunders in the first 10 moves of a game.

Then, when I make a few comments about how ludicrous his central theme is, Krolik writes a rebuttal post that mainly consists of trying to tar my personal reputation. The guys I "feuded" with are jerks who act like little kids in the schoolyard. I realize that some people may think that I am wrong for going after Krolik's writing that way but I am 100% certain that no competent writer/editor will disagree with the salient points that I made about his work. He has done a good job of hooking up with the "right" people and I am quite sure that he will go very far in this business; within the next two or three years he will probably be an editor at a major website or magazine. Obviously, if I cared about "getting ahead" I would take a completely different tack but I prefer to speak the truth.

In light of the Slam "Top 50" article, Krolik's piece and so much other garbage that Slam/SlamOnline publishes, it is reasonable to wonder what exactly the editors there do. They clearly do not have the vaguest idea about how to professionally prepare copy for publication.

 
At Monday, June 22, 2009 8:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting indeed!

I don't usually notice spelling errors (sometimes you do a double take because a word looks funny) but a simple, automated, spell check is the least one could do.

Rosen is certainly biased, but he does sound like a grumpy old coach who wants the game played a certain "right" way. He does point out a lot of stuff that most people miss.
I also enjoy articles written by Kevin Arnovitz of the Clippers Blog. Forum Blue and Gold and 48 Minutes of Hell are also excellent blogs I follow. The Painted Area is also a good read.

I regularly read Basketbawful. It's a funny blog. I don't know how you got baited into arguing with them though.

Z

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 1:06:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

"I believe that he's still an undergraduate"

That's an acceptable excuse? A college student shouldn't be expected to know " 'i' before 'e' except after 'c' ", or how to construct a coherent sentence? I suppose a generation that learned to write with their thumbs may think these things are unimportant.

Face it, Krolik's a hack and David is calling him out on it.

Keep fighting the good fight David.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 3:18:00 AM, Anonymous J. Bauer said...

David,

I don't know, Sports writing has become more about entertainment rather than credible writing. For example during Kobe's 61 point game against the Knicks last season, Kobe made a two point where he didn't have space to shoot(against Chandler); he made a 180 twist turn with his pivot foot never lifting or sliding, and banked the shot. Both Abbot and Dwyer wrote detailed blogs about how great the game was but call that move a Travel. I went back and looked at the tape and Kobe didn't travel on that move.
here's teh video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l053a5oYxc

--------------------------------
On Draft: Why do teams got Rubio and Jennings so high on their boards? These guys can't shoot the ball. And jennings got worse and worse as the season wore on. Scouts over there say they haven't seen anything from him that warrants his high draft pick. I'd pick Gerald Henderson, Chase Budinger, Tyler H. or Jodie meeks over both these guys.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 3:24:00 AM, Blogger MV said...

David,

I've been following your blog for quite some time now. I realized that you and Josh Tucker, the author of Respect Kobe (www.respectkobe.com) and the primary blogger of Silver Screen and Roll (www.silverscreenandroll.com), are both very professional, logical, and excellent writers. Would you ever consider contributing to Silver Screen and Roll? I don't know if you and Josh have talked, but I believe Josh would not mind having you contribute to his sites from time to time. In fact, I first learned about your blog from Josh's Respect Kobe site (he listed your site under a category for recommended sites). Just wanted to add my two cents. Keep up the great work!

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 4:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anthony wilson and sweatofewing, are you serious!? krolik's "writing" is high school level, at best. in fact, i would've been embarrassed to turn in krolik-quality work to my sophomore english teacher.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 6:46:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jeffrey:

I agree completely that it is absurd to try to defend a professional writer's basic errors by pointing out that he is still in college. Krolik's writing is substandard for a middle schooler, let alone a professional or someone who is being touted as a leading young writer. He is just a bad writer--period. The way that SlamOnline and ESPN.com try to pump him up just makes you wonder what is really going on with the people who run those sites. Henry Abbott looks like a fool for putting Krolik's blog in the True Hoop Network and touting Krolik as some kind of expert on the Cavs.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 6:49:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

MV:

Thank you for your supportive comment.

I did correspond with Josh a while ago but have not been in contact with him recently. You or he can email me directly with more details about writing for SS&R.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 7:04:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

J. Bauer:

Clearly, Kobe did not travel when making that move; he executed a perfect spin move while pivoting on his left foot.

I have already made it quite clear exactly why I don't read anything by Dwyer; if I wasted my time with such garbage then I would be writing these kind of "deconstruction" pieces non-stop.

Abbott has clearly shown--particularly in recent months--that he is biased for the Portland Trail Blazers and against the L.A. Lakers. Abbott carried on about Ariza's foul versus Portland as if Ariza had committed assault with a deadly weapon--and in case anyone wrongly assumes that I would never say that a Laker committed a flagrant foul, when Andrew Bynum fouled Gerald Wallace I said that Bynum may not be a dirty player but that this was a dirty play. The Ariza play was not dirty, contrary to Abbott's hysterics--and Abbott said nothing when Dahntay Jones pushed Bryant in the back while Bryant was in mid-air, a cheap shot that would automatically result in a fight in any pickup game in the U.S.

I've never been a huge draftnik and I follow the college game less now than ever before so I'm not really sure why certain players are moving up or down. I evaluate players after I see them in an NBA context.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 7:10:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

As I have said, there are two issues: Krolik's faulty premise and the fact that he has very poor writing skills. You are correct that Krolik's work is subpar for a high schooler, let alone a college student who is touted as a leading young writer.

Krolik clearly has done a masterful job of ingratiating himself with the cabal that currently runs the basketball writing world online. I suspect that it will not be too long before he is an editor at ESPN.com, SlamOnline or a similar site, whereupon we can expect to see a proliferation of spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and poorly written articles by Krolik and his proteges.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 12:52:00 PM, Anonymous J. Bauer said...

@David, @WestCoastSlant
Yahoo sports got good writing especially from Adrian W who writes stories from a neutral perspective. he doesn't omit the flaws of a player from his articles nor does he write them in as footnotes.
Si.com does got some good writers like Chris Mannix, Ian thompsen and Chris Ballard.
I'd say espn's best writers are JA Adande, Rich Bucher, marc Stein and Chad Ford.

I don't like Hollinger because he goes by numbers. He doesn't have a scout's eye if you know what i mean.Everything he does is dictated by numnbers.

Its a shame NBAfanhouse hire some credible writers but they coupled them in the same section as Bloggers. Can you imagine this? spending 4 years in college only to end up gettin paid same as bloggers?

Stephen A Smith was good but he got fired...You have to wonder why ESPN would fire him and keep Skip "I hate Athletes" "no talent" Bayless.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 2:20:00 PM, Blogger mattatouille said...

Personally, I love reading about this back-and-forth with you and Krolik. Let's be realistic, Krolik is a college kid while you've got years and years of experience doing this. Maybe give the kid a little credit too for playing in the basketball-analysis big leagues. I will say that out of all the basketball analysis that I read, yours is top-notch. Keep it up.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 5:17:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jack Bauer:

Adrian W. is the best writer at Yahoo! for sure.

Mannix, Thomsen and Ballard are very solid.

Hollinger has created a niche for himself as a "stat guru" but at least he--unlike Berri--acknowledges the limits of his numbers and what they do and don't measure.

I don't go to Fanhouse now. I went there once or twice and let's just say that I was not impressed.

I don't care for Bayless at all but SAS was hardly any better; all he did was scream and make outrageous statements. SAS has decent writing skills but there is no way that ESPN should have ever anointed SAS as some kind of NBA expert.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 5:22:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

mattatouille:

If Krolik were learning on the job as some faceless intern who did not have a byline then I would be more than willing to "give the kid a little credit." Instead, he is a professional who is taking a spot away from people who are more qualified; ESPN and SlamOnline are lending him credibility by publishing him--or, to be more precise, they are taking away from their own credibility (if they have any left).

Krolik is just a bad writer, period. His writing is horrible for a professional but it is subpar for college and high school as well. That is just the truth. The issue here is larger than Krolik. People should really wonder about the decision making processes at ESPN.com and SlamOnline, because the editors there are putting out subpar products.

 
At Tuesday, June 23, 2009 11:56:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Z:

Sometimes spelling errors are made by editors instead of writers (this type of "correction" of my submitted copy has happened occasionally) but considering that Krolik seems to average about one spelling error per paragraph at his own blog I am not inclined to cut him much slack. He and SlamOnline need spell check, grammar check, logic check and a few other "checks."

Rosen has the perspective of someone who played the game at a relatively high level (mid-size college) and has coached the game at a relatively high level (CBA). He definitely knows the ins and outs of the sport better than the vast majority of writers and he writes in an easy to read, free flowing, entertaining style. I don't always agree with him but other than the random shot at Pippen and the stuff about Wilt that Vednam mentioned I don't usually feel like I have to "deconstruct" a Rosen article. His book "God, Man and Basketball Jones" is a great read; I think that it is out of print but nowadays with Amazon you can probably find a copy.

I don't have any major complaints about Arnovitz' writing--but he is an editor at ESPN.com now, so I wonder how responsible he is for the overall quality of the site's NBA coverage. Krolik brags that Arnovitz hired him but that is hardly a feather in Arnovitz' cap as an editor. I've never been in contact with him but one would think that if he truly wants to build the best possible staff he would have at least tried to gauge my interest in writing some "old school" articles or some analytical game recaps for ESPN--but of course he won't do that because he is part of that whole Abbott-Dwyer-Basketbawful blogging cabal of which I am not a member.

FB&G is part of the whole Abbott-Dwyer-Basketbawful nexus, so I steer clear of the site even though in the past some of the content there was solid (not great, but solid). I've never visited 48 Minutes of Hell. The Painted Area would probably be my choice as the best basketball blog (other than my own, of course).

I have rarely visited Basketbawful since my exchange with he/them years ago. I was not impressed with the site then and I don't think that it has improved. I did not get "baited" into arguing with them. When I first started blogging I posted comments at other sites and tried to engage in friendly conversations with other bloggers. I did not realize that so many of them have the emotional ages of 10 year olds and are incapable of having adult level dialogues. Maybe the content at Basketbawful should have provided a clue to me about how immature he/they are but I assumed that even though they posted some irreverent stuff they would be capable of engaging in civil dialogue.

 

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