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School of Hardwood Knocks II: Grant Richardson, Basketball Australia
If you haven't been reading The School of Hardwood Knocks II over the past weeks, it might very well be time you did, especially for those aspiring writers out there who are curious about how basketball blogging actually translates to success towards a career in the local basketball industry. In the words of the Memphis Grizzlies' tagline, grit and grind applies perfectly in this situation as well.
Over here on our final segment, we go on to Grant Richardson, media coordinator at Basketball Australia, and talk about how he got to where he is today.
Let's talk about the very beginning. How did basketball come into your life, and when did you decide to make writing a part of the picture?
Basketball has been a part of my life since as far back as I can remember. I started playing when I was 5 years old and have played almost constantly for the past 20 years (save for a few months off intermittently thanks to a pesky dislocating knee).
English was always my best subject at school and when it came time to begin thinking about a career path, I thought there was no better option than combining my favourite hobby with my greatest talent at school- sports journalism!
You came on board The Pick and Roll covering the state leagues, namely SEABL. How was the journey with The Pick and Roll like? Share your thoughts, and give our readers a peek at how it's been like to be part of the team.
Making the decision to follow a career path in sports journalism was certainly easier than finding a job in the industry.
But when I saw The Pick and Roll advertising for writing positions on Twitter, I jumped at the opportunity. I had already been following the site in its early days and was keen to help their coverage widen to the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) which I had some knowledge of, having interned and freelanced for the league in the years prior.
The Pick and Roll was a brilliant place to work, giving me the chance to hone my writing skills as well as giving me the freedom to choose the features and articles I wanted to write about. I was then able to progress to writing about the NBL and NBA which was an exciting prospect and also saw one of my articles featured on The Bleacher Report which was certainly a thrill.
Do you still follow SEABL actively these days? What do you think of the upcoming proposed Champions League Basketball (CLB) - does it pose a threat to SEABL at all, as a potential competitive winter league?
I am still a keen supporter and follower of the SEABL and the Nunawading Spectres in particular as that was my junior club when I played. My role at Basketball Australia of course means that I have a vested interest in the league as well. The CLB is an exciting venture, obviously something that still requires a lot of work but I am all for any sort of league that garners more interest in the sport.
The road to BA
How did the Basketball Australia opportunity come about, and how was the interview process like?
The opportunity to join the media team at Basketball Australia came about through my connections at SEABL. Needing help with the writing aspect for the website, especially coming up to the Oceania qualifiers in August 2015, BA initially signed me on in a temporary role but I was fortunate enough to earn a permanent role with the company after about a month.
The interview process basically involved me showing examples of my writing from The Pick and Roll with a reference from Steve Chalmers to help me over the line!
How was the transition from SEABL coverage, to being a part of BA's media team like? If you had the chance to do it all again, what advice would you have given yourself, in terms of preparation for the role?
I was not particularly prepared for just how much basketball BA covers as a National Sporting Organisation and coming from covering one league at a time whether it was SEABL or NBL to covering up to a multitude of teams, events and players at local, state, national and international level.
Having taken a while to land a permanent job in the industry, I have never taken a day of my job at BA for granted as I am keenly aware how lucky I am to have successfully attained my dream job.
Run us through your side of the lens. How is a day at Basketball Australia like?
A day at Basketball Australia for me is spent almost 100% on my laptop either writing or scouring the internet for stories. It is always nice to be able to get out of the office and conduct interviews with Boomers, Opals, WNBL, NWBL (National Wheelchair Basketball League) and SEABL players as well as talking to the up and coming stars at Australian Junior Championships which are held all around the country. Getting to work during the Oceania qualifiers and meet my basketball heroes like Patty Mills, Delly, Andrew Bogut, Belinda Snell and Suzy Batkovic was also a great thrill.
We've talked before about Basketball Australia's role on facilitating and promoting Aussie hoops. How much difference do you think citizen journalism (a term I learnt recently) like The Pick and Roll, Downtown, and Believe The Hype makes to Australian basketball coverage, in a complementary role alongside BA?
Citizen journalism websites are a great help in garnering interest in basketball in general. The ability to give more people the opportunity to read about and watch basketball as well as possibly earn a job in the industry through one of the websites (as was the case with me), is fantastic.
It is always nice to be able to read articles with an opinion as well, rather than the straight news pieces you used to primarily get.
Sidetracking a little: do you think your San Antonio Spurs have got what it takes to dethrone the Golden State Warriors this season, and do you reckon Kawhi Leonard is the undisputed MVP/DPOY all rolled in one?
I do love my Spurs and have been very happy with the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge so far this season as well as the play of bench players like Jonathon Simmons and everyone’s new favourite, Boban Marjanovic. They are flying under the radar once again thanks to the exploits of the Warriors but that’s the way they like it.
In terms of Kawhi Leonard, he is my favourite player on the team to watch aside from Patty and although nobody could say he is having a better season than Curry, there’s no doubt in my mind he is the DPOY at the moment.
How has your work with The Pick and Roll changed your life? Looking back a couple years, would you have imagined yourself to be who you are today?
Working with The Pick and Roll changed my life immeasurably as it played a major role in helping me attain my dream job. I certainly had no idea it would be such a successful venture with The Pick and Roll when I first applied over Twitter, but it’s a testament to the idea that you have to leap at any opportunity, no matter how small it may seem at the time.
One last question to wrap things up: What advice would you offer to like-minded folks, who aspire towards joining the industry in a similar capacity?
My advice for like-minded people, or people looking to join the sports journalism industry is to just get your foot in the door.
It does not matter where or in what capacity, once your name is known amongst the right people, half the job is done. Having taken on an internship at SEABL in 2011, it took four years to get my job at BA but I stayed in touch with the guys at SEABL and it paid off. Similarly with The Pick and Roll, I took a volunteer position with a growing website that gave me a portfolio to provide in a job interview.
Remember: you just have to get your foot in the door!
Grant can be found on Twitter at @granto1990.