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Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by StephenLitel, Mar 26, 2008.

  1. StephenLitel

    StephenLitel New Member

    Hi all,

    New to the site today and would love some feedback on where I currently reside as a writer. I cover the Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA and Minnesota Lynx for Hoopsworld.com and The Downtown Journal in the Twin Cities and am always looking for constructive criticism and ways to improve.

    Here’s my most recent Timberwolves article, followed by my most recent non-Timberwolves piece…

    McCants Building Empire

    By: Stephen Litel Last Updated: 3/26/08 8:27 AM ET | 723 times read

    Minnesota's Rashad McCants entered the NBA with high expectations of himself. He was coming off an NCAA Championship with the North Carolina Tar Heels and was going to play alongside one of the greatest players in the league, Kevin Garnett. After a solid rookie season, microfracture knee surgery and new-look team without Garnett, McCants is now one of the key pieces in the Timberwolves youth movement.

    "Up and down," McCants told HOOPSWORLD recently, describing the 2007-08 season. "A rollercoaster. It's still kind of hard getting used to not winning games."

    Lost in the Timberwolves record, as well as the media's infatuation with Al Jefferson, is the fact McCants is having a career season. His scoring (15.0 ppg), rebounding (2.8), assists (2.3) and shooting percentages (45.5% from field and 40.8 from three) are all career highs.

    Also showing the maturity of a veteran, McCants accepted his recent role of sixth man without complaint, despite being Minnesota's second leading scorer and best outside compliment to Jefferson. As the Wolves continue to evaluate other players, they know what they have in the third year guard. Scoring in double figures off the bench in 16 of the last 17 games, McCants has shown a great overall feel for the game and has staked his claim to a starting role from day one next year.

    "What kind of respect are you supposed to deserve when you come off the bench and your team isn't winning," asks McCants in response to a perceived lack of respect or acknowledgement of his accomplishments. "I've underachieved my whole career in the NBA so far, so I don't think I deserve any respect yet."

    As he continues to develop with his young Timberwolves, McCants also shows the same business acumen as some of the greatest players in the league. Recently, he started his own website (www.rashadmccants1.com) and there is much more than basketball related information.

    "I'm just looking forward and trying to market myself beyond basketball," says McCants. "I know nothing is promised and nothing is guaranteed, so I have to have a plan where I can make something happen outside of basketball. That was my plan."

    "I have a clothing line starting, little business ventures and things like that, so hopefully everything goes well," continues McCants. "I'll probably start up a blog pretty soon. There will be a tattoo contest where people send in their tattoos, what they mean and go from there. Probably get some player interviews about their tattoos and take it step by step. It'll probably go into a magazine kind of thing and we'll take it from there."

    Although McCants continues to pursue business ventures outside the game of basketball, he has not forgotten about his day job. By accepting his role off the bench for now, he knows he is helping to set the Timberwolves up for future success. He won't, however, be comfortable outside the starting unit for long though.

    "My main goal is to be an All-Star and to win an NBA championship and to be put in that position," says McCants. "I want to win a lot of games and be recognized as the player I know I can be, my family knows I can be and people that watch me know I can be."

    Quite simply, McCants is showing an intellect of yesterday. He may be having a fine season and have hopes for the future on the basketball court, but he is taking advantage of everything the NBA has given him.

    "Either way, I'm trying to get to the Russell Simmons type, the CEO, the entrepreneurship, own my own company and be able to build an empire," says McCants, smiling from ear to ear. "That's whether my NBA career goes the way it's supposed to or not."

    Doing his part to help in the building of a championship contender in Minnesota can only help McCants in his empire building endeavors.

    About the Author: STEPHEN LITEL
    Stephen Litel has covered the NBA for HOOPSWORLD for two years, powering HOOPSWORLD.COM and HOOPSWORLD Magazine. Stephen can also be seen in the Downtown Journal in Minneapolis and has appeared on KFAN 1130 and WCCO AM 830.

    Next up…

    Kwame Brown: Forget the Hype http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=7947

    By: Stephen Litel Last Updated: 3/21/08 2:51 PM ET | 2750 times read

    As a former number one pick in the draft, Kwame Brown entered the league with great expectations. Now nearing completion of his seventh season in the NBA, Brown is considered a bust by most.

    "They (the media) just try to make me out to be someone I'm not," Brown tells HOOPSWORLD. "Everyone who knows me or knows anything about me knows that, so that's what keeps me going. I mean, media is going to be media."

    "Most guys don't take the time to get to know anybody because they write whatever sells the papers," continues Brown. "If there's a negative thing out about a guy, why waste your time trying to find out the truth? They just keep it going."

    The media may focus on the negative, but Brown understands himself he has not lived up to what was expected when he was drafted by Michael Jordan in Washington. Career statistics of 7.4 points and 5.7 rebounds do not strike fear in the hearts of opponents and he is well aware the fact.

    "In all the places I've learned just to keep working," says Brown. "It all can change around. I've had success in all three places and I've had some lows in all three. I think the LA situation is a little different because I have to learn how to play while I'm injured. I went out there on one leg, I wasn't able to produce and it is what it is."

    The ability to note one's own areas in need of improvement is significant. Acknowledging limitations, Brown is able to revel in the highs when they come around and, most importantly, learn from both.

    "You know, it's crazy how this league is a what have you done for me lately league," says Brown. "I remember a year ago, I'm in the playoffs, hobbling on one leg and knowing I needed surgery on my ankle. No one in the media is talking about that.

    "I had two surgeries this summer and no one is saying that," he continues. "I averaged almost a double-double in the playoffs on a team with Kobe Bryant and I was hurt. It's just the bandwagon jumping on and being negative."

    Brown's current contract runs out at the end of the 2007-08 season, only a few short weeks away. It should be expected his next contract will not be for the same amount of money, as most classify Brown as one of the worst "bang for your buck" players in the league. Yet, the money is not what is important to him at this stage of his career.

    "I'll go to a team that wants me, I want to be there and I'll be healthy again," says Brown. "I'll get a full summer of work and not a full summer of surgery. I'll come back, ready to go."

    Kwame Brown knows the stigma which surrounds him in NBA circles. He also knows there is only one way to attempt to change it which is, of course, on the basketball court. At 25 years of age, there is still plenty of time to resurrect his career and to complete his NBA journey the way he wants to.

    "It's been filled with some ups and some downs. I had a chance to be on some teams with some great players, arguably the two greatest players to ever play the game (Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant). I came in really young, learned a lot and it's still going. That's the big thing about it. As long as you're in it, you still have a chance to turn it around."

    "I don't live life with regrets," says Brown. "I stand up to it and I take it on the chin."

    Focusing on returning to full health, as well as finding his NBA home is the split focus right now. Whether he stays in Memphis or joins a fourth NBA squad, Brown is now ready to begin to live up to the once present hype.

    About the Author: STEPHEN LITEL
    Stephen Litel has covered the NBA for HOOPSWORLD for two years, powering HOOPSWORLD.COM and HOOPSWORLD Magazine. Stephen can also be seen in the Downtown Journal in Minneapolis and has appeared on KFAN 1130 and WCCO AM 830.

  2. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    I think these profiles would probably be helped by talking to more people than just the subject.

    A quote from Randy Wittman about McCants's maturity would really crystallize things in that piece. Perhaps quotes from a veteran Laker or Phil Jackson would strengthen the Kwame Brown piece. I follow the Wizards (Brown's first NBA squad), so I have a few insights into him that come from being a fanboi looser of that team. Thus, I might have a little more to say about Brown than I would about McCants.

    Having said that, IMO, these pieces read well.
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Good reads. One thing I noticed is the ledes are similar.
  4. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Litel,

    Just thinking out loud.

    Brown piece: The lead sentences should be shifted down. The lead as, "A lot of athletes say that they ignore the media, but Kwame Brown says that's what keeping him going" ... something like that. The most interesting pt is the fact that a guy pilloried in the press uses it as motivation. Then get to him coming into the league hyped and busting.

    Just an idea. Play with it.

    YD&OHS, etc
  5. StephenLitel

    StephenLitel New Member

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the advice so far. I see your points and the value in each suggestion, so it's very much appreciated.
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