Let me set the scene for you: A cutthroat, 10-team head-to-head league with a zero dollar buy-in, and a few team owners who had maybe never seen a quarter of NBA basketball in their entire lives. The consequence for getting swept in one of your weekly matchups was having to upload a video of you covering a pop song to the best of your abilities to Facebook for the entire world to see—a grim reality where your only prize for succeeding was not having to belt out Carly Rae Jepsen’s greatest hits and upload it to a platform all of the hot girls you went to high school with still frequent.
It was like if Bill Simmons wrote an episode of Black Mirror.
This deadly serious league was where I found myself last October after being invited to play fantasy basketball for the first time ever by my good friend Simon. To prepare for war I quickly sized up my competition on Facebook to see if any of them were actual NBA GMs. After confirming that almost none of them were, I named my team “Kawaii Leonard” and photoshopped a photo of the Spurs superstar so that he had gigantic, glimmering anime eyes to use as my team banner. I was ready to compete, and set to dominate.
In the end, though, like any before it, this past NBA season was chock-full of upsets, injuries, and Dion Waiters buzzer-beaters that rendered useless most of the research and predictions fantasy owners take the time to do.
I fought valiantly enough—remembered to set my lineups often enough—to find myself in third place after the dust had settled. And although I didn’t win, I claimed a moral victory and came away with some bulletproof fantasy basketball tips I’m willing to pass on to you guys right now.
Establish A Team Identity Early
Most people think statistics are everything in fantasy basketball. This is a false narrative that has lead a lot of nerds down the advanced stat hole and opened their third and most annoying eye. The actual most important thing in fantasy basketball is team identity. Without a hook—fun pun name, only drafting injured centers, etc.—how will other owners in your league know that you are here to crush them for the next 19 weeks? A good way to do this is to write an introduction for yourself, explain the way you plan to play against your foes and watch them tremble through their computer screens like I did at the outset of last season.
As you can see, I balanced humor with intimidation like a fantasy Sun Tzu. The art of war, in my case, was as simple as name dropping Shawn Kemp and posting an artist’s representation of God and his only Son, J.R. Smith. It put me on a fast track to becoming feared and respected by all nine other team owners who loved memes and were bad at fantasy sports.
You’re Gonna Do Some Really, Really Dumb Stuff—But That’s Okay.
Pobody’s Nerfect. Even basketball’s consensus “GOAT” wears baggy jeans and spends his days in casinos losing money earned from selling his overpriced sneakers to impoverished youth across the world—so when you step up to the plate and strike out, I implore you to shake it off and keep moving forward. Last year I accidentally drafted a very injured Nerlens Noel—he only played 22 games, and none in the first half of the season—and then put Jusuf Nurkic on waivers a week before he was traded to Portland so I could pick up Mo Speights. To be completely honest, those are just the two mistakes I’m not too ashamed of to admit. Keep on trucking—for every Mo Speights you make, there’s the possibility of 10 non-Mo Speights’. Everybody deserves non-Mo Speights’.
Become the less-stunned looking, more outwardly cruel Mark Cuban of your fantasy league—minus the Shark Tank stuff. Send messages to opposing owners like, “Hey dude, noticed that you need some more depth at your forward spots. I suggest picking up yo mama—if she’s not too heavy.”
Being a polarizing figure to the people you’re supposed to be chummy with will only garner success and will never backfire. Emulate the likes of Pat Riley when entering trade talks with your friends: “You want my Player A for your Player B? I’m going to burn down your house, get out of my damn office you ingrate!” Scorched earth is the only policy, or else it could be you singing pop hits on Facebook next week.
Prepare To Sing Pop Hits On Facebook
Look, I know this is a very specific league stipulation that might not be popular yet, but it could happen to you. The anxiety I felt going into the Sunday night of a weeklong matchup being down 7–1 was tantamount to what I imagine going down 3–1 in the NBA Finals feels like. I urge you to be prepared for the worst possible outcome and live with it. Figure out which of Adele’s songs you have the range for, or if Taylor Swift has a song where she mostly talks instead of sings. You have got to get your mind and body ready to become an accidental viral hit if things break bad for you. I practiced my scales every night for weeks, toned my diaphragm and re-read lyrics until I could recite them in the mirror with almost no tears. I was equipped for whatever was going to be thrown at me… A miracle of our league last year, though, is that nobody was ever swept—nobody ever had to be vulnerable to the masses and weird out former classmates they hadn’t spoken to in years. So prepare, and hold out hope that the same fate befalls you.
Pay Attention For Three Months
In all likelihood, unless your friends are jobless or character’s from FX’s The League, there will come a time when they start to lose their focus in fantasy basketball. Finals need to be studied for, Christmas time is spent with family, significant others want a break from NBA basketball twice a week to watch The Bachelor and Grey’s Anatomy or to make you go to dinner with her parents that don’t like you. So wait them out—if you can keep your team strong and together for 2–3 months you’ll soon see other squads start dropping off of the face of the earth. An owner I won’t name from last year benched Harden by accident for long enough that it took him out of contention because he was busy with school. Another—me—forgot to set his lineup almost every Monday night for the entirety of February because it was cold out. Wait those losers out, and show them what five minutes of daily attention to Yahoo’s fantasy app can do.
Ride The Wave
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things were good then.
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers, drawing in a decent support team and a lot of talk that the West was looking incredibly dominant next to a “weaker” East. Things were good then.
Five months later and things couldn’t be farther from that idylistic picture. The East thrived without the King and GMs put together some of the most noteworthy teams in a while. And the Lakers? The Lakers currently sit in the 11th spot of the Western Conference with very little hope of making it to the playoffs. They’re a team that is constantly attacked for their lack of chemistry, skill, and effort. For the first time in a long time, LA became synonymous with “hopeless”.
This wasn’t the future we saw for the King.
On the heels of a night filled with one of his greatest achievements ever, the Lakers as a team walked away with a loss to the Denver Nuggets. A night that began on a high note went out on one that was equivalent to sour candy. Furthermore, a frustrated team left an arena, hopped on social media, and found a bevy of congrats for their star player, while enduring the storm that came with another Lakers loss.
It seems that James’ stardom has reached a tipping point, one that makes him a GM one moment, the King of the league the next, and finally the biggest point of contention within the locker room. The most notable thing is that it is clearly wearing him down. Chris Martin let us know that “nobody one said it was easy”, but you’ve got to ask yourself, does it have to be so hard?
The answer is unfortunately, yes. It’s always going to be this way, and there is no fighting the current, but there is beauty in riding the wave. Embracing that moment when the wave comes crashing down on you is important, because it’s always going to happen, but your attitude will always be remembered. LeBron rides high, and keeps things in the positive light for the media, but he’s got to realize that they are writing his story, and he doesn’t have to play into their’s. Ride the wave, and take the loss in stride with all the great that has come with it, but take the loss because your part of a team that is.
The wave has crashed down, but the current will bring another.
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Year 15 of a legacy…
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau. We’re meeting to speak about this exciting new idea I pitched to them. We were tired of spinning the wheels on our own individual internet shows, and I told them that it was time we stopped waiting for a network and became the network.
We spoke that weekend about creating a community of content creators that all loved ball and came together to make unique content with unique voices – voices we felt were never heard in the mainstream. This community was the base of Press and we’d continue to push forward from that spot. We spoke about some amazing show ideas, article ideas, social media plan. It was truly an exciting time, and still one of the best weekends of my life.
Two years later and that group is a lot smaller, and that idea is Press Basketball.
It caught fire at the beginning and we had people joining our bright shiny new plaything left, right, and center. It was exciting, but now I kind of realize that a lot of it was just that we were that “bright shiny new thing”.
We ended up with a lot of Press Basketball “members” but when I stepped back and looked at what was happening… it wasn’t what I’d imagined. The fire burned out. The idea was gone. We had just become another thing trying to stay alive, waiting for some deus ex machina to show up with money and make everything okay.
I’ve gone through most of my life making something out of nothing. It’s never easy, but when it happens it’s always worth it… ALWAYS. Press made me feel alive at a point. It was literally all I could think about, and while it still is on my mind, it doesn’t make me feel alive. This hurts more than I can ever explain.
Changes are coming my friends. We’re not laying down and dying, and if we do it’s not going to be like this.
The core of Press will be setting fire to a lot over the next few weeks and I personally can’t wait for this to start. From the ashes something new will rise (I watched a lot of XMEN growing up).
Stay tuned, because it’s not over.
Ride The Wave
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
An Ode to the 2007-2008 Warriors
USA VS EVERYBODY | The Break | Episode 17
Trading Places | The Break | Episode 18
Christmas Day Showdowns | The Break | Episode 10
Western Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 1
Eastern Conference Preview | The Break | Episode 2
NBA & More Mailbag with Josh Howe — TWT 102
Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview with Keith Parish — TWT 101
Ride The Wave
Back in October the sky was the limit. LeBron had decided to move to LA and join the Lakers. Things...
Year 15 | A Mini Documentary
Year 15 of a legacy...
Something Out of Nothing
It’s March 2016, and I’m driving with Alan Shane Lewis to Montreal to meet with Marc Griffin and Phil Boileau....
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