I was trying to think of a cool way to begin this re-entry column, but those of you who know me realize the futility of such an exercise. Then again, perhaps it’s best not to bury the lead too badly the first time out at a new joint.
Slightly longer version: I’ve been fortunate over the last 18 months to be able to wait for the right situation. From the people who weeks ago reached out and explained this position and from those I’ve met since, this feels like the right place at the right time.
Kevin McHale’s advice has been ringing in my ears since becoming a pandemic casualty at the new Boston Herald in July of 2020: “Don’t settle,” he said — and repeated, which partially accounts for the ringing. “Don’t settle.”
I didn’t. Heavy.com has been in business for a couple of decades and draws tens of millions of page views per month. (I’ll now get to embarrass myself in front of a whole lot more people. Cool.) The site is looking to expand its original content, and I’m happy to be part of the NBA push. I’ll still be offering Celtics insights, but the entire league is now the beat.
Long Road From Herald to New Gig
It’s been an unusual journey from 2020 to here. To those who’ve not read me before — or don’t care (hey, I get it) — this will hold little interest to you. If you click away now, I won’t be offended, promise. As noted before, I’m honored and flattered and all that stuff when someone takes the time to read my scribblings, and I try not to waste your time (operative word: try).
The reason I sought permission from Heavy.com NBA editor/boss/overlord Sean Deveney to write this is the feeling that you and I have established a bit of a relationship over 35 years of Celtics/NBA coverage at the Boston Herald and the last year and a half mainly on Twitter. And I didn’t want it to be like one of those Hallmark Channel family dramas where the parents ask where the child has been, and the child replies, “Out.” They ask again, and the child replies louder, “Out!” You know the drill. (And, no, I have not fallen in with a bad crowd as a prelude to pharmaceutical experimentation and bad grades.)
If this personal tale is TMI from an SOB and you’d rather do a TLDR checkout, again, I hope to catch you here later when it’s about basketball. I appreciate those who care about the sport and don’t give a rat’s patoot about those who type about it for a living. But you’ve gotten this far, so …
It’s fair to say I return to you as a different person than when I last spilled ink on a Herald page. At least physically different. When I got home from my last Celtics road trip in March of 2020 and we were all in a lockdown of sorts, it was a sobering time all over and in my small town. I thought about how I’d shed some season weight-gain each summer by doing a four-mile walk/run and hitting the gym on opposite days. With the weight-rooms closed, I realized, damn, I can do four miles EVERY day. So began the road to dropping 40 pounds and mitigating the effects of 35 years in planes and hotels and residual injuries from an essentially failed attempts at being an athlete.
A couple of league referees and I agreed a few months ago that the NBA is a pre-existing condition. It’s amazing to be, at once, in shape and still not healthy.
Hopefully now, to borrow the title of a Grateful Dead song, I’m more properly “built to last.”
As for the work situation, it was a shock to the system when that latest round of Herald cuts came. When you do something for so long — since 1985, in my case — concern about the unknown tends to keep you in place, deflecting opportunities that would arise over the years. I’d always said my primary care physician at Mass General wanted me off the beat worse than did the readers. Initial life-quake aside, I was good with staying away.
The calls from friends and colleagues and notes from readers were more heartening than I can convey. The record will show that the first solid job offer came for stage time at a comedy club where I’d hosted, but I remain more comfortable writing bits for others. A more intriguing call from a friend who’d been nominating me for a sports opening that has remained in the “potential” category because of circumstances. I avoided the blog/podcast be-your-own-boss opportunities, and resisted the overtures that would have necessitated relocation. Also, I’ve been spending a week each year teaching at my old school, and it was nice to hear from the University of Dayton with offers there or closer to Boston.
I’ll close with some notes of gratitude: To my grandfather’s handed-down work ethic and my financial advisor for putting me in a position where I was lucky enough to choose whether to work or not. To the orthopedic people who took me apart and put me back together. (Remember: minor surgery is what they do to other people.) To Twitter for giving me a place to put my opinions and bad jokes and stay engaged. To those editors/owners kind enough to think I’d be a fair addition to the staff of their newspapers/sites — the roads not taken.
To you, the readers who’ve kept me in line all these seasons. I told the people at UD I’m not done with this business, and I hope you’re not done with me.
And, hey, Dr. Goodson, I promise to take better care of myself over the next 35 years.