My first day at Liberty Ballers was June 27, 2013. It was the day of the 2013 NBA Draft, and I had just been brought on as a staff writer. I was a bright-eyed, 16-year-old kid who tried to use his love for basketball and the Sixers to make up up for his inexperience.
On that night, new Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie traded Jrue Holiday for the draft rights to Nerlens Noel and a future first, and selected Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th overall pick. Those moves clearly signaled a shift in the franchise’s direction, but little did I know how drastically that night would impact the team, the NBA, and inadvertently, my life.
Since “The Process” began, the Sixers have lost 253 games. I’ve written 773 articles during that time period, more than three stories per loss. Covering a team that’s perpetually terrible should be difficult to discuss so frequently, but this Sixers franchise was so different. At times, they were undeniably the most interesting team in basketball. There were prospects, draft picks, trades, broken navicular bones and fifth metatarsals, a Croatian star who was never coming over, a mystifying general manager, an intrusive commissioner, a nepotistic advisor and an unfortunate changing of the guard.
No matter how bad the team was, there was always something to talk about. Admittedly, that didn’t always make the job easier. Each season had more than its fair share of low points. Constant blowouts, devastating injuries and defending the honor of The Process against its naysayers were all mentally taxing. But Liberty Ballers gave me the opportunity to vent my frustrations, and share my disappointments as a conduit to the fanbase. Without this platform, I’m not sure how I would have made it through the past four years.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the highs, and there have been plenty of them. There was Carter-Williams’ debut against the Miami Heat, winning the draft lottery in 2016, trading for the right to draft Markelle Fultz, and watching Joel Embiid finally take the court in a Sixers uniform, because my goodness is he special.
Right now, the Sixers future is brighter than ever. Embiid, Fultz and Ben Simmons are all slated to take the floor together in October. Once the laughingstock of the league, the Sixers are emerging from darkness and into the light.
I joined this website at the beginning of the Sixers arduous rebuilding phase, and in a way it’s only fitting that I leave at its conclusion. I have decided to step down as co-managing editor of Liberty Ballers, and this will be my final post. While I’m disappointed that I will not be at the helm of the website as the team finally begins to reap the benefits of The Process, I feel fortunate to have been around during one of the most unforgettable periods in franchise history.
Most of my favorite moments from these past four years have been less about the team itself, and more about this website. Liberty Ballers has created more opportunities for me than I ever could have imagined, especially at this age. I’ve covered NBA games, the NBA Draft and Las Vegas Summer League. I’ve interacted with players, coaches, agents and team executives. I became the general manager of my own basketball team, and even tried out for the Delaware 87ers. I’ve been given access to an exclusive world I only thought I’d be able to view from afar, and for that I am very thankful.
None of this would have ever been possible without the website’s loyal readers, who I am forever indebted to. You’ve allowed us to help throw some incredibly special (and some of Philadelphia’s hottest) parties, and have a played an important role in making me who I am today. To anyone who has commented on one of my articles, emailed/tweeted me or interacted with me face to face, I wholeheartedly thank you. Your support has meant more to me than you will ever know.
There are too many people for me to thank in this space, but I’d like to publicly acknowledge Mike Levin, Seth Pollack, Spike Eskin, Kyle Neubeck, Derek Bodner, Shamus Clancy, Wesley Share, Jake Fischer, Max Rappaport, Sean O’Connor, Brandon Gowton, Roy Burton, Marc Whittington, Sohil Doshi, Matt Carey, Rich Hofmann, Tanner Steidel, WIBR, Jake Hyman, Xylon Dimoff and Justin F. for their support, guidance and assistance during my time at Liberty Ballers.
When I first started writing for Liberty Ballers, I viewed it as a hobby and nothing more. As my role with the website grew, I quickly began to realize that this could be the beginning stages of a rewarding career. But when I started to become more invested in turning my sports writing gig into an eventual full time job, the industry began to crumble, and this past year has been especially ugly. ESPN laid off plenty of its writers and reporters in an attempt to save some extra money, and if the world’s largest sports media entity is forced to scale back, it speaks volumes. Over the past month alone, Fox Sports completely obliterated its writing staff, and now Vice Sports ceases to exist. The changes SB Nation’s basketball network has decided to make in order to stay competitive during these turbulent times have certainly been a factor in my decision to leave.
Opportunities for fair paying, stable writing jobs are almost unheard of these days. Perhaps it will eventually right itself, but I presently have concerns about staying aboard a ship that appears to be sinking. I love basketball, and it’s my dream to have a job working in this sport, although it may be time to pursue that goal in a new capacity.
I’m hoping to still have a platform to write on going forward (if you’re interested in hiring me to write about the Sixers or the NBA, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org), but I plan on spending my last year of college pursuing new opportunities in the basketball world.
Walking away from Liberty Ballers is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life thus far, as this website has become a part of my identity. I’ll always remember my time here fondly. The future may be uncertain, but I’m looking forward to what it may bring.
I trust the process.