This is such a scary thing to write.
This week, I accepted an offer to become a Utah Jazz beat writer for The Salt Lake Tribune. I start on July 25th.
For me, that’s an incredibly meaningful thing to say. I grew up here in Utah, first living in Murray, then in Riverton. My parents subscribed to the paper, and I loved reading the Tribune, even as early as when I was eight years old according to credible sources. I had a weird routine: I would read the sports section, with a special focus on Jazz content from Steve Luhm, Michael C. Lewis, and even Joe Baird. Of course, box scores were my jam, being number-obsessed even from my youth. Then, I would go to the comics (favorites: Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine, Non Sequitur). Finally, I would go to the weather half-page on the back of one of the middle sections of the paper. There are a few temperatures I read daily: the local ones; Fairbanks, Alaska (because it’s so cold); Phoenix, Arizona (because it’s so hot); and New Delhi, India. I have no idea why New Delhi stuck out to me, but I promise I learned the temperature of New Delhi daily for at least five consecutive years. I was an insane child.
When the Tribune approached me about coming on board to write about the Jazz for them, it was honestly pretty special out of the gate. But since the New Delhi days, I’ve followed the careers of TribJazzes from Ross Siler to BTS to Bill Oram to Aaron Falk to now Tony Jones and Kyle Goon. There’s a legacy there, and it’s crazy to me that I’m joining it. All of those people are such good writers. I read their work and wish my work could seem so effortless, yet tell a story so beautifully, as theirs does. Maybe the biggest reason I’m joining the Tribune is hoping that I learn some of that ability.
But while I’m hoping to grow, the Tribune has hired me to be me, so I’ll continue to bring the analysis of the Jazz in a major way. In particular, I’ll still write The Triple Team post-game recaps, though we may change the name. I don’t think we’ve decided yet. I’ll still get to be a basketball geek, especially on the web, where all of the video and stats and charts and things will all still be there. We’ll have to adapt some of my articles for print sometimes, but we’ll do our best to include everything we can. I’ll also contribute NBA columns, game stories, features, and much more. It’s all very exciting.
This announcement also ends my time as the managing editor at Salt City Hoops. Dan Clayton will take over and work with Spencer Hall to lead the direction of the site moving forward. Truthfully, Dan had really been the one mostly running things for the last couple of years anyway, and the site is in good hands. Regarding the radio show on ESPN700, the goal is to keep it going, even though I’ll be traveling more. We’ll know more about how to make that work when the NBA schedule is released in August.
But man, oh man, I’m going to miss KSL. KSL.com gave me my big shot. I was hired by them just over three years ago as a part-time content producer by Spencer Hall (who led the newsroom at KSL.com at the time), with the understanding that I’d do some Jazz work in those hours. Since then, I’ve been moved to full-time, then writer, then Jazz beat writer/web analyst with KSL.com. It’s been a whirlwind, but with the huge constant of their continued belief and support of me.
I have many names to thank from my time at KSL.
Josh Furlong has been my boss throughout and has been incredibly empowering ever since I started. He edited so many of my articles, fought for a KSL.com sports travel budget, and was a constant driver of quality content from KSL, both in sports and otherwise. He’s the perfect mix of hardworking yet innovative; which means KSL.com can be a great website now and will continue to grow under his leadership. Just a fantastic boss.
Whitney Evans took over for Spencer in 2016 as the News Director of KSL.com. She’s one of the best people you’ll ever meet, continually positive and incredibly capable as KSL.com’s guiding hand. I’ll miss working for her.
Devin Bunker was General Manager at KSL.com for most of my tenure. He’s brilliant and well-suited for the job, thinking big picture while fighting for us on a grand scale. I can’t thank him enough for what he did for me, and I always loved our conversations about the future of the industry. Greg Peterson, too, deserves a ton of credit for leading a successful team at DDM.
Xoel Cardenas edited nearly every one of my Triple Teams for the last couple of years as the nightside managing editor. He did a tremendous job throughout, always speedy but thorough. He’s also a tremendously good dude, he even brought me a Tottenham jersey even at one point. Definitely an up and coming talent.
Sean Walker has been my sports coworker from the beginning, working tirelessly among BYU, soccer, preps, and so much more to bring as much good content to our website as possible. Even better, he works with the TV side of things to make sure to get the visual content out there. Without everything he brings, I couldn’t do what I do, and I appreciate that way more than he knows.
Devon Dewey was the nighttime editor when I was hired at KSL, then became expansion director later on so he could avoid working until midnight all the time. Devon’s a news lifer, with such an interest in getting his product right while also contributing to what we could grow at KSL geographically. He’s also a fantastic drone pilot.
Faith Heaton Jolley has been a mother figure far longer than she’s been a mom, being in charge of so much of KSL’s content that she’s severely missed whenever she does leave. She’s incredibly funny, too. I’ll miss her.
Carter Williams is a talented writer, but a harder worker, I’d trust no one more to run any breaking news beat. Jordan Ormond is one of KSL’s great personalities, I’ll miss our spaghetti dinners. Liesl Nielsen is already owning beats as a relatively new writer (especially in the tech industry, she’s already very well regarded), she’s very talented and smart. Viviane Vo-Duc copy-edited hundreds of my stories and did a tremendous job on each of them. Yvette Cruz is great on her podcast with Xoel and also runs the show on KSL.com on the weekends, along with Jacob Klopfenstein, who was one of the very best hires we’ve had during my time at KSL (though he has a bad preference of EPL soccer teams). Tracie Snowder and Linda Williams have kept the site running since before I joined, they’ll keep doing that after I leave. Mary Dalrymple is a perfect fit for the social media role at KSL, her ability to keep up with the daily needs plus keep abreast of the fast-moving industry changes means that she’s always keeping KSL at the top of the social leaderboard. Keep it up, y’all.
Okay, I also want to give thanks to a bunch of people who aren’t at KSL but helped me get here:
Spencer Hall, Angie Treasure, Celeste Tholen, Natalie Crofts, and Megan Christensen are no longer at KSL, but I still love each of them. I’ve written this before, but Spencer is like my second father, hiring me at Salt City Hoops then KSL. He is absolutely responsible for me having a chance in this industry, and I owe him everything. I have a complete deficit of words for Angie, who has grown from KSL content producer to 1280 digital director to Utah Jazz social media manager, and has moved up the ranks so quickly because of her unique talent of being absolutely fantastic at every job she ever holds. She’s funny, witty, clever, and so much fun to be around. She’s one of my best friends and I’m so excited/proud for her success. I looked up to Celeste more than she realized as the insightful voice in the newsroom, I always have enjoyed hanging out with her and Branden. Natalie is now a press secretary for a U.S. Congresswoman from Oregon, a role that fits her delightful talents she displayed at KSL. Finally, Megan is a spectacular mom and Harry Potter fan, and I’ve missed her being the head writer at KSL.
Thanks to Bill Riley for putting the Salt City Hoops Show on his radio station and believing I could be a knowledgeable voice even five years ago when I was just starting out. Likewise, shoutout to RSL’s Tyler Gibbons, who walked up to me at media day four years ago and said he liked my writing, and he thought I could help out on his TV show on ABC4. He introduced me to Bill. Thanks to Jeremiah Jensen, Rod Zundel, Cleon Wall, and many others who gave me opportunities on KSL Newsradio and TV. I’m very lucky that Ben Anderson wants to do another show once a week after his four-hour show ends on ESPN700. Six hours of radio in one day is a crazy thing, but Ben makes it seem easy thanks to his enthusiasm for talking about basketball. JP Chunga has produced many of those shows and has become a good friend, he’s the oldest-acting young person that I know.
I want to thank the Salt City Hoops staff for all of their hard work. Dan Clayton basically runs the site now, and his SC7s are my favorite weekly Jazz articles out there. He’s very talented and someone is going to get him working full-time in this industry soon. Clint Johnson stepped up this year and volunteered to write every recap that no one else wanted, which left him writing a lot. He did a great job with each of them. Steve Godfrey became a new and fun voice on the scene; Jimbo Rudding has been around the community forever but his mailbags (and tweets) are still as funny as ever. Thatcher Olson, Riley Gisseman, Allen Reihmann, Ken Clayton, Clark Schmutz, David Smith, Andrew John, Jonathan Turnbow, Allen Schowengerdt, Matt Pacenza, Jarom Moore, and Julia Mecham all contributed their time to the site this year, and their voices were very appreciated.
The best part of both jobs is working with the other people who cover the Jazz. Tony Jones is one of my best friends. It’s always hilarious when people think we hate each other due to our Twitter arguments or whatever, but there’s no one I enjoy talking to more. That I’ll be working with him at the Tribune is a tremendous privilege. Kyle Goon is the best writer in the market, able to tell any story so well. I’ll be rooting for him in L.A.. I’m very excited that Aaron Falk is going to be back around the Jazz more in his new role with them, he’s so incredibly witty and a blast to be around. Eric Woodyard‘s the hardest-working addition to the beat, he’s brought a great new voice since joining the Deseret News. We’ll hang out even more this upcoming year. I miss Kareem Copeland, but I’m visiting him and Brittany Copeland in DC in September. Looking forward to it. Doing the radio show with Zach Harper was a blast, and I’m so excited for what’s coming up for him. David Locke and I have some of the most interesting and insightful conversations about the Jazz. Craig Bolerjack and Kristen Kenney are great people, and I really enjoyed grabbing lunch with them this year. Let’s do it again soon.
But the Jazz also just a great organization to cover, and not just because I grew up watching the team. There’s a great PR staff in place with Derek Garduno, Lindsay Twiss, and Danny Franks, and all of them are very helpful and great about getting us the information we need. They’re also just great people and GIF makers. Frank Zang and Gina Calvert have also helped me multiple times and are so great to work with as well. Shouts to Jonathan Rinehart, PR director of the past and current SLC Stars president, he really helped mentor me through my first year on the job when I was new to interviewing, etc. Quin Snyder is an indescribably brilliant man and one of the most media-friendly coaches in the league. I learn something new every single time I talk to him. Dennis Lindsey, Justin Zanik, and David Morway have been so supportive, they each reached out to me early to introduce themselves and offer their help. Steve Starks‘ visionary leadership is perfect for LHM and the Jazz, and we’ve had some great conversations as well. The players are the best group I’ve had to cover yet, but a special shoutout to Donovan Mitchell for being incredibly media-friendly. He’s thoughtful with his answers, and just so friendly and jovial that it’s infectious.
And finally, I have to thank you all, my readers and listeners, for making all of this possible. Your unquenchable thirst for Jazz news and knowledge means that I have one of the coolest jobs in the whole world, getting to think and talk and write about basketball every day. I don’t take it for granted, and I owe everything to you. Thank you all so much.