Discover more from The Finder With Tom Haberstroh
Why I am drinking lots (and lots) of coffee
Some stray thoughts about my new job with the Portland Trail Blazers
One of the cool things about this publication is that I have the platform to write some things that aren’t capped at 280 characters or whatever it is. This is my own little parcel on the Internet and I have the freedom to sit back and go long whenever I feel like it.
And so I’ll go a little longer with some exciting news: I am now the analytics insider for the Portland Trail Blazers TV broadcast. I’m so damn excited, y’all. There are only 30 teams in the NBA and only so many opportunities like this. As far as I know, there’s no other team that has an analytics insider on their regular broadcast team, and I’m absolutely floored to be in that position.
What does this mean? For starters, I’m going to be watching a lot of Scoot Henderson. Which is super news because he’s a 6-foot-3 flying cannonball that looks like someone Lego-snapped Ben Wallace’s massive arms onto his body. Above the basketball stuff, he is SUCH a cool story. There is only one Scoot Henderson, and I’ll be watching that dude every night. This is pretty great.
It also means I’m contracted by the Blazers to bring my analytical-toolbox to their Rip City audience, appear occasionally on their TV screen and say (hopefully) smart things about the Blazers on air.
Also, pretty great.
When I tell people about my new gig, the response is almost universally the same: CONGRATULATIONS and … some confusion. I don’t really have the space on social media to explain everything, so lemme break things down here and do it FAQ-style.
So you’re moving to Portland?!
I’m staying in Charlotte where I will be remotely beaming into the broadcast, ManningCast-style. Half-zip sweaters not required, but I’m a 37-year-old white male. Not ruling it out.
Like anything else, this setup has its pluses and minuses. The good stuff, as far as I can tell, wayyy outweighs the bad: I don’t have to uproot my lovely wife and two young kiddos from our happy, little lives in North Carolina, which is awesome; my commute to my TV studio is the 50-foot stumble to my backyard garage office, and that’s pretty sweet; I can turn off the cameras and be asleep in my own bed faster than you can say Willamette (and if you’re like me, probably incorrectly).
And moving sucks, don’t recommend it.
Downsides: I’m not going to be regularly eating Portland’s food, drinking Portland’s coffee and roaming Portland’s great outdoors. This is a significant drawback, I recognize. But I plan on popping in and out of PDX this season. So I will be taking recommendations!
When do you sleep?
I’m not sure yet. Figuring that out now, honestly. Covering a Pacific Time Zone team from the Eastern Time Zone will take some getting used to. But I’m a father of two young (wonderfully goofy) kids and thus I have many years of experience managing my sleep patterns.
What does this mean for The Finder?
I’m still going to be covering the NBA in this space, just as I was before. I’m still going to write about NBA trends and solving weird sports riddles and digging into fascinating league-wide stories in ways that only my crazy brain can. That doesn’t change.
Take yesterday for example. In the morning, I wrote about Victor Wembanyama’s magnificence on The Finder. And later that night, I talked about Scoot’s brilliance on the Blazers broadcast. Like many of you out there, I do not have just one job, and the Blazers are fully aware of that and have graciously allowed me the space to continue to cover the league as I have in the past.
But I’m going to be real with you: I’m not going to touch the Blazers stuff all that much here. I have a paid relationship with the team, and I’m going to steer clear of them for the most part. I owe you that transparency. If Deandre Ayton becomes the next Wilt Chamberlain, can I write a long piece about that development on The Finder? Of course, and in that case, I should, and I would.
What I don’t want to do is be dishonest with you about my new job situation. There are lines I can’t cross and I want to respect those boundaries – for everyone involved. I think you get it, keeping it separate. But just wanted to be up front about it.
How much coffee are you drinking?
Obscene amounts. If Stumptown or Coava would like to sponsor me, I am open for business. I am shameless about this.
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What does this mean for Basketball Illuminati?
As we announced last week on the podcast, we’re still doing weekly Basketball Illuminati content, but it’s taking on a different form now. Instead of a weekly podcast episode, it’s now a weekly segment inside the amazing Oddball show hosted by my pals Amin Elhassan and Charlotte Wilder, which you can find daily on the DraftKings Network, YouTube and wherever you get your podcasts.
I can assure you that these two recent events – me joining the Blazers broadcast and Basketball Illuminati shifting to Oddball – are completely independent of each other. The IllumiNation should keep your third-eye open on many things, but that is not one of them. I am still very much part of Meadowlark Media and will continue to make a fool of myself on those platforms. Like for example, me cosplaying as a game show host with Isaiah Thomas and LaMarcus Aldridge as contestants (it was super fun).
Are Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd, Michael Holton and Brooke Olzendam as awesome as they seem on TV?
Yes. Every bit of it. Last night, they ambushed me on air and made fun of me for wearing flannel on the broadcast and frankly, I deserve that. Candidly, I was pandering to the PNW audience too aggressively. It could have been worse. I decided against showing my new Keep Portland Weird tattoo I just got.
It’s not all new faces. It’s been super great to reunite with producer extraordinaire Greg Fonseca. We used to work together at ESPN on SportsCenter and other NBA stuff. We’re gonna have fun with this thing.
I took a lot of consideration in taking the Blazers opportunity. It’s a new thing for me, a pretty significant lifestyle change. As I was going through this process, I talked to a bunch of people in and around the Blazers and in the Portland area and they all said the same thing: it’s an amazing place to work and man, the fans are incredible. It’s true: everyone’s been great. Even when I wear flannel.
How many Portland restaurants of Top Chef alums are you planning to hit?
Don’t worry, Pack Your Knives listeners. The answer is “all of them.” I will report back soon. Gregory Gourdet, if you’re reading this, I will do all of the embarrassing things in order to eat at kann. Just sayin’. I can’t wait to get out there. Stay tuned.