Reports surfaced Friday morning that Dwight Howard and Chris Paul have been exchanging text messages with plans to potentially team up in the same free agency destination.
Let’s have some fun guessing what those texts look like:http://sbn.to/163sURr
Because it’s about Brooklyn.
That would be my pitch for everyone to check out “Brooklyn Bound”1, a new quarterly for the new American city.
For those interested in a more in-depth take, I recently spoke with Benjamin Meadows-Ingram, the founding editor of the magazine about the birth of his new project and all things Brooklyn.
The publishing world is not new to Meadows-Ingram, having previously worked on one of my favorite hip hop publications BLAZE, and currently working as Music Editor of Billboard magazine and executive editor of RESPECT:
“I got my start when I was nineteen working for BLAZE. Fourteen years later I’m still at it. In the beginning, I kind of fell into magazines — I was young and thought it was cool that a music magazine wanted to give me money to do what I was doing anyway, which was listening to music, thinking and talking about it. Working in a creative field always appealed to me. I liked the brainstorming aspect, the fact that I’m making something and I liked the challenge of having to do it over and over again.”
Meadows-Ingram has thought of making a city magazine for a long time. But the actual process of “Brooklyn Bound” started over a year ago, when he was traveling and thinking a lot about what lifestyle magazine Monocle was doing.
In detailing Monocle as an influence, Meadows-Ingram is actually describing a lot of the qualities his own magazine already possess when you browse through their launch issue:
“It’s well designed, it leans towards the practical and informative and it’s interested in the way things — the city, society, fashion, art to name a few things — work and what makes them work. They have all the characteristics that I think should be the strengths of a good magazine in today’s publication landscape.”
“We’re in an information age — information is abundant. But what isn’t abundant is a strong perspective, guides and analysis. Assuming we get to where I want us to be, Brooklyn Bound will be able to deliver all of those things.”
The names attached to the project should be familiar to most — Paul Cantor, John Francis Peters, Jeff Staple and Sophia Chang to name a few. Having this core group help him build a quality product is not something that Meadows-Ingram takes for granted:
“I was fortunate to have a longstanding relationship with Staple and Francis Peters and they’re both just category killers in their fields. That gave me a great start. On top of that, I’d known Angela Zucconi — my business partner — from my days at VIBE and she’s a monster when it comes to keeping books, offices and production back-end. Being an editor for so many years allowed me to reach out to my extended contacts.”
“Our whole team is just stellar and I’m incredibly lucky to have the help of such talented and great writers and editors, not to mention photographers and illustrators. It just all started to seem like something we could pull off on our own and in between all of our other jobs and commitments. It was an adventure, but we got it done.”
Of course, the arrival of the Brooklyn Nets plays a huge part into all of this buzz for the borough. After all, it’s the first major league sports franchise in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left in 1957. Meadows-Ingram sees this as a tremendous opportunity for the community:
“I think the franchise just puts a face on what’s already been happening in Brooklyn. The community is growing and changing and the arrival of the Nets has only accelerated and reinforced that change. As in every borough, pride runs deep in Brooklyn.”
“Now as the only borough with a franchise to call its own, it’s a pretty safe bet that the borough is going to rally around the team, especially once the franchise is able to put a winning squad on the floor. Everyone’s going to want to check out the arena once it’s opened, that’s for sure. it’s new, said to be state of the art, and certainly going to be a draw. Plus, it’ll save those in Brooklyn the trouble of having to go into the city to see games. I know I’m trying to go to as many games as possible.”
For Meadows-Ingram, the Brooklyn Bound project is a way to speak to the themes that make New York such a special place, and also a way to highlight the continual change within the city:
“I think that we’re in an age of transition. We’ve seen seismic shifts in society over the past ten to fifteen years, both at home and abroad. In New York — and specifically in Brooklyn — the whole shape, look and feel of the city has changed. For better or worse, the city is different now than it used to be. The younger generation is growing older and more entrenched, and in the process redefining what it means to be a New Yorker.”
“Hopes, dreams, challenges, realities, even processes - all of these things have changed. And as this generation continues to come of age and assumes power and responsibility across the board, what it thinks and feels and understands about the city around it will become that much more important and vital to shaping and informing the city that New York will become. And Brooklyn Bound was born out of what we felt was a need for an outlet to provide a voice for that conversation.”
And specifically, Brooklyn is a huge part of that change and represents a lot of the wonderful qualities about the city:
“As we like to say, Brooklyn Bound: It’s where New York lives. Now, this isn’t a slight at any other borough, the whole city informs itself obviously, and people live all over. But the thinking here is that the New York ideal - that of a place that is driving art and culture and that can be shifted by one inspired individual, and is full of individuals out to make that kind of impact all of the time - that spirit feels like it lives on in Brooklyn in a way that can be a bit more difficult to find elsewhere in the city.”
“It’s no secret that the Brooklyn brand has exploded over the past ten years or so and the community itself has undergone rapid transformation. We anticipate this trend only to continue in the years to come. Today, Brooklyn is ever changing and evolving - it’s where one of the city’s big stories — if not the biggest. And as journalists, you always go to the story and it feels like the story is in Brooklyn.”
1 You can read Issue 00 of the publication by clicking here.
With the NBA trade deadline approaching this Thursday, months of talks on what will happen to Dwight Howard will finally be addressed.
As the situation intensifies in Orlando, I keep coming back to a quote from season 5 of The Sopranos, when Tony struggled with the decision to kill his cousin Tony Blundetto for the sake of his business. In the end, he realized that “more is lost by inaction than wrong action” and committed the kill.
This is precisely the position the Magic organization have been pulled into by Dwight Howard’s season long passive aggressive attempt at holding the franchise hostage while still maintaining his reputation as the fun loving center who just wants to win.
We’ve been here before, whether it was Lebron with the Cavaliers, Carmelo with the Nuggets or Bosh with the Raptors.
In Cleveland’s case, they went all-in with the team, which was considered a serious championship contender, fell short and watched their franchise player leave them behind. Whether a championship would’ve forced Lebron’s return is a great what-if, but it would’ve definitely softened the bitterness of his departure.
Interesting because after last night’s win over Miami, Howard declared his intentions to stay in Orlando for the remainder of the season, and vowed that the Magic should roll the dice for a playoff run.
As if his limited wish list didn’t already destroy any leverage the organization had in trade talks, now he’s come out and let it be known that he can be had in free agency this summer. Let me stay for a few months, and I’ll decide whether to change my mind after the playoffs
The hostage situation worsens.
There’s been reports of internal conflict among members of Magic management on whether it’s actually realistic that Howard will have a change of heart, and that’s the core reason for the inaction thus far on what should be an obvious decision: trade your disgruntled superstar before you’re left with nothing.
Of all the previous examples listed above, the Howard situation mirrors Bosh’s free agency in Toronto the most. The Raptors weren’t satisfied with the trade offers at the deadline and at the time was playing great basketball which created the belief that a deep playoff run would secure Bosh’s long-term future with the team.
Instead, the team fell apart down the stretch and missed the playoffs entirely. The Raptors were always a longshot, convinced themselves otherwise, and wound up empty handed. The wrong action may have been to trade Bosh while sitting in a playoff spot at the deadline and gotten below fair value for their asset. But their inaction set them back even further.
The same result is bound to happen in Orlando unless they recognize the best decision for the franchise long-term is to deal Howard now for the best available package.
Granted, no one will be entirely satisfied if the return is Brook Lopez, or some lesser front court player. But to stand pat and let Howard further dictate the terms of his departure this summer and leave the organization with any return on their asset? That’s a much worse conclusion. And even if he does stay, the entire episode has revealed so much about Howard’s mindset that I’m not entirely sure you don’t want to start over anyways.
Of course, should the Magic come to their senses and Howard moves to a new team at the deadline, some Magic fans will always wonder if they could’ve kept him, made a deep playoff run and convinced him to stay. But believe me, that what if will beat whatever pain and bitterness that’s forthcoming when he leaves for nothing in a few months.
It’s only a lesser of two evils, but parting ways and starting over is the most logical move for the Magic. But in a league that’s allowed its marquee players to hold entire organizations’ hostage, logic has gone out the window a long time ago.
3 In The Key
1. Mr. Big Shot and other incorrect assumptions
Chauncey Billups is a guard who shoots three pointers too early in the shot clock too often. But somehow, his reputation as a clutch point guard and NBA Finals MVP with the Detroit Pistons continues to carry him to this day.
Every one of those shots that he takes is a reminder of his reputation, instead of a consideration of the possibility that these are simply bad shots, and that it may be time to move past what we once thought of the player.
And really, it is consistent with the behavior we have about people in every walk of life. The people that we know, that we work with, that we hear about. Reputations are a hard thing to shed, for better or worse.
Take Russell Westbrook: now known to die-hard and casual fans of basketball as a shoot-first point guard whose selfish ways are getting in the team of this perfect machine that they’re building on Oklahoma City. But if you read Zach Lowe’s breakdown of Westbrook’s game, you see a 23 year point guard who has very fixable flaws with a huge ceiling of growth left. Plus he’s already running the most efficient offense in the league.
Once a general perception spreads, there’s no stopping it. But what will make the game more enjoyable for us as these players grow into and out of their reputations is to recognize that the development and decline of these players are fluid. What they are now won’t be what they are in a few years. And what they once was probably isn’t what they are now.
Recognizing and understanding that players continue to evolve will help all of us in assessing how a team continues to grow, instead of taking a stagnant view that is generally behind the curve.
2. The championship hangover
In 2007, the Miami Heat were coming off their first NBA championship in franchise history, with Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade, the team look destined to challenge for several more titles.
On opening night that year, they raised the banner and lost 108-66 to the Chicago Bulls. It was a sign of things to come. The Heat labored through the season, finishing 44-38 and were swept in the first round by the same Bulls. The next season it all came apart, Shaq was traded and the team didn’t return to contention until last year.
This season, the Mavericks seem to be following the same script. Coming off their first championship, Dallas was dominated in their opening day game against Miami. They followed that with another flat outing at home against Denver, than a buzzer beating loss in Oklahoma City.
The defending champions have righted the ship, and stand at 10-7. And now comes news that Dirk Nowitzki will be taking a week off to “resolve some physical issues and conditioning issues”.
It also doesn’t help that to position themselves for cap room in the long-term, Mark Cuban has assembled a completely different team than last season. Players like Vince Carter, Lamar Odom and Delonte West have been brought it to supplant the depth of the roster. Gone are younger talent like Rudy Fernandez, J.J. Barea, Tyson Chandler and Corey Brewer.
There’s no doubt this team will be there come playoff time, but given that they seem to be following the blueprint of the 2007 Miami Heat and pace themselves for the post-season, the Mavericks might find that their year-long hangover will come back to haunt them in the first round.
3. Dwight Howard’s wish list
Dwight Howard is so dominant in two aspects of the game that’s the least glamorous — defense and rebounding — that it’s made him an underrated player on the court even as he carries flaws on the offensive end with him.
But you can’t say he commands the same respect with his off the court comments and decisions regarding his pending free agency.
Last week, Howard added the Clippers to his wish-list of teams he’d be willing to go to, in addition to the Nets, Lakers and Mavericks.
What exactly is Dwight Howard’s true intentions when it comes to assembling his wish list?
Is it not safe to assume that winning is the most important thing to him?
The Mavericks will be a year older next year, so Howard would be teaming up with Nowitzki and an aging core in the West that’s filled with up and coming teams. If the Lakers were to acquire Howard, it would strip the depth of an already thin team. Same for the Nets, who have arguably the worst roster in the entire league.
Why hasn’t Howard considered other teams like Philadelphia, Chicago, or Minnesota. Each of these teams would be willing trade partners with the necessary trade pieces to provide Orlando with that they need, at the same time these teams could add Howard without decimating the core roster.
Since superstars demanding trades to a team of their choice is becoming an annual occurrence, Howard should at least get it right. Look at how Carmelo Anthony has struggled in New York. Sometimes it’s not about what city you go to, but looking at what makes the most sense from a basketball standpoint.
Players would be wise to try to take control of that too. If you’re going to be selfish, at least do it right.