Hoop Editor Ming Wong is in Midseason FormI recently went to a local bookstore and flipped through the new issue of Hoop Magazine; I am not foolish enough to buy such garbage but sometimes it is interesting to see what is being printed in the NBA's "official" publication. Instead of publishing an in-depth, insightful look at Clyde Drexler's career--a task likely beyond the capabilities of anyone on Hoop's staff--Hoop ran a tiny item ostensibly about Drexler's first NBA game. However, even though Hoop provided Drexler's stats from that game--and it would not surprise me a bit if Hoop got the numbers wrong--the quotes from Drexler had nothing to do with his first NBA game but rather simply addressed his general recollections about his rookie season with a Portland team that featured All-NBA Second Team shooting guard Jim Paxson, future All-Star small forward Calvin Natt and solid point guard Darnell Valentine. Drexler noted that even though he possessed the versatility to play any of those positions it was difficult for him to earn much playing time ahead of those veterans (Drexler averaged 17.2 mpg as a rookie in 1983-84, starting just three games). The funniest thing about the Hoop piece is that the writer not only repeatedly misspelled Darnell as "Darnelle" but also repeatedly referred to Hall of Fame Coach Jack Ramsay as "Ramsey." If the writer made these mistakes in his submitted copy, shame on him for being so sloppy--but, more to the point, shame on editor Ming Wong for not fixing this mess. Clearly, Wong--who is not above "borrowing" the work of others without proper attribution and who ran a story that incorrectly stated that Julius Erving's famous dunk over Michael Cooper took place in the 1983 NBA Finals--is in midseason form, which is sad news for anyone who loves basketball and is seeking out intelligent writing about the sport.
Hoop used to feature at least one or two full length, in depth articles per issue--for example, consider my 2005 piece about Walt Frazier. Now, though, the magazine largely consists of a series of brief puff pieces that lack any substance, depth or insight. The same thing has happened with the Sporting News: instead of producing fully developed articles, SN trots out a ton of "mini-articles," many of which consist of little more than a series of brief quotes from various "experts" (some of whom are "experts" only in the loosest sense of the term); the Yogi Berra interview in the current issue is interesting but such a full length piece is the exception rather than the rule now with SN. John Feinstein's back page column is usually good and occasionally excellent but Will Leitch's column is a waste of space/ink and the rest of the magazine often seems like the sports version of the Dick and Jane reader. I'm not sure if this trend means that editors/writers lack the attention span and/or talent to put together full length articles or if they simply assume that their readers are not interested in spending more than 30 seconds reading an article. Sports Illustrated may be the last remaining sports magazine that regularly publishes articles that resemble real journalism (ESPN the Magazine is a promotional tool for the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader" that occasionally--seemingly by accident/chance--publishes an in-depth, thought provoking article or column).
posted by David Friedman @ 12:32 AM