In this interview, Oliver Maroney doesn’t hold anything back about the sports industry. Mr. Maroney is one of the most established writers on the web right now and is remarkably knowledgeable when it comes to what it takes to be in the sports industry.
The NBA season is near and a lot of hot takes and questions have been circling around social media. Mr. Maroney is here to talk to me about the hottest unanswered questions. Also, Mr. Maroney will give an insight in the field of media that should help the young aspiring journalists of today.
With work published on ESPN, NBA TV, NBA.com, TSN, and Dime Magazine-UPROXX, Oliver is a household name in the sports industry. You can find his work here. In addition, Mr. Maroney is a host of the Big 3 show.
Jonathan Bates: I know you and Alex Kennedy did a podcast to help young aspiring journalist but can you reaffirm everybody what does it takes to be in this sports industry and thrive in it as well? Following that question, what was it like for you climbing up the ladder to get to where you are now?
Oliver Maroney: Sure. Alex and I have a good relationship, so we discussed what we’ve done to separate ourselves in this industry. It’s a tough task but my first piece of advice is to be original and be you. Don’t change your writing to make it something it’s not, allow the stories to tell themselves and add your two cents to it when applicable. Put yourself in an area where not a lot of writers write. High school basketball, college basketball, summer league, offseason workouts, the places where people aren’t. That’s where I started and I met people, I built a network of players and individuals. I’m one of those people that agree with the more work you put in, the more you’ll get out and that’s entirely true in this space. My belief was always doing good, quality work and eventually, it’ll get recognized. Don’t expect anything, just put your head down and work and good things will come.
JB: What’s a regular day like for you as a Basketball writer? What time do you have to wake up and how’s your schedule?
OM: Well, as most people know, I do feature work. It’s typically interviewing, Q&A’s and occasional quick hits. The work that goes into it varies. It depends on the day, it depends on what I’m working on. There isn’t a time I’m on or off, it’s varying day by day. I’m usually working on seven to eight stories at one time. None of them are completed, they take time to grab secondary quotes, add pieces to it and allow for proof reads so it is the best it can possibly be. Obviously, there’s the occasional travel and local and regional games that I attend fairly regularly. On top of that, I’m doing radio hits, I’m doing tv and podcast appearances, it’s not just writing anymore.
JB: I see a lot of young aspiring journalists just write articles every day, but what’s your secret formula to become noticeable and unique from other writers/reporters?
OM: Man, being myself? Honestly, I’d say the thing that separates me isn’t my ability to write. It’s my ability to care for others and create relationships. I pride myself on helping players and telling their stories. I want to give them a platform where they can be honest and open. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’m young, and a lot of these guys are my age which makes me relatable and understanding even if I make 1/1000 of what they make. I’m not out for a story every time with these guys. Heck, I text guys and we chat about everything, they know it’s safe with me. So for me, it’s just creating good relationships and not always going after stories with them. They know me, I know them, it’s an easy-going relationship.
JB: Everybody is wondering should they stop pursuing sports reporting and journalism because of all of the layoffs. For example, ESPN laid off many reporters, so did Fox sports, but what would you tell those young reporters to keep them upbeat?
OM: Media and social media are changing the way jobs are being performed. Get ahead of the curve and look at what you can do. Put yourself out there as much as possible and be the best that you can be. There’s a reason it’s not dead. Players are creating their own content but you can still be the one filming it or telling it. Just think outside the box, don’t get scared of change and be willing to listen to others.
JB: Now, the NBA season is around the corner; who do you have as your sleeper team in the East and West conference?
OM: Good question. Actually, I asked Brian Scalabrine this same question and he responded saying “what’s a sleeper?” It’s funny, but that’s my response. What’s a sleeper? To the general fan, sleepers can happen but as a writer, you have to know all these teams back to front. If you know that, then you know that none of the teams in either conference are “sleepers.” But, if you were to ask a general fan and they wanted assistance I’d say New Orleans and Brooklyn will be my picks. New Orleans has two of the most dynamic bigs in the game with Cousins and Davis. With Jrue Holiday for a full season and additions like Rajon Rondo, they should be even better. With Brooklyn, it’s a group of young players that have been written off coupled with a few savvy veterans who’ve been doubted. That’s a dangerous combination in my opinion and one that could create a winning culture. The coaching staff is great and all the players seem to love them. It just seems like a team that could be much better than many anticipate.
JB: After the Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving trade, which team will have the most successful season? Following that question is the Celtics and Cavaliers rivalry renewed?
OM:This season? Cleveland. After that, I’m going to say Boston. Boston wasn’t going to pay I.T. and people seem to think that this trade was lopsided in Cleveland’s favor. I disagree. You got a very talented point guard who’s 25 years of age and has Championship pedigree for an undersized, ailing point guard in Thomas, a pick that isn’t going to be in the top-3 (in my opinion) and Jae Crowder. Don’t get me wrong, I.T. was great last year and has been incredible offensively. But, given the injury and what we’re hearing about it, along with the fact that you had to back the Brinks truck up for him? This is a good deal for both teams.
JB: Since the NBA is one month away, NBA twitter is bored right now but I saw a lot of crazy hot takes. Which superstar would maximize their team full potential by coming off the bench?
OM: Not sure. That’s a tough question. One guy I could see would be Dwight Howard. He’s in Charlotte and has a chance to come in and really change the rim protection for that team. If he’s coming off the bench, I think he’ll be dominant against backup bigs and could really change the outlook of that Hornets team.
JB: It definitely seems like Carmelo Anthony will be in a Knicks uniform when the season starts. Do you believe he will end this year in a Knick uniforms, if not with what team?
OM: No. I think he ends up with the Rockets or Portland. I know Portland doesn’t seem like a destination but as Woj and others have pointed out, Portland really wants him. C.J. and Dame have both been very outspoken about wanting him and if the Knicks can’t find a deal with Houston, Melo may decide to do it. However, the more likely scenario is with Houston. Houston wants him and I think that would be great to see. At some point, one party is going to budge or find that third party to get this deal done. One of the teams involved will get desperate in my opinion.
JB: There are a lot of good shooting guards in this league right now, one player, in particular, is getting a lot of criticism on Twitter, DeMar DeRozan. Who are your top five shooting guards in the NBA as of now?
OM: 1. Jimmy Butler
2. C.J. McCollum
3. Klay Thompson
4. Bradley Beal
5, DeMar DeRozan
A couple of honorable mentions: Avery Bradley and Wes Matthews (defensively, they’d be top-5 without question).
JB: The Rockets upgraded, Thunder upgraded, T’Wolves upgraded, but the Spurs didn’t move back or forward. Which one of those three teams would give the Warriors the most competition and why?
The Rockets. Chris Paul with his defense, ability to read defenses and shoot the basketball will give the Warriors fits. I don’t know if there is a more potent combination than Harden and Paul. I don’t care if their undersized, they’re going to be a tough task for any team. I love what Daryl Morey has done and the coaching staff just continues to improve the supporting cast. I love their chances when they play the Warriors.
JB: Before we let you go, what’s next for you? What’s something you want to accomplish that you haven’t done already?
OM: I’ve got some more features and stories coming up on DIME. But, you may see me on a track with Lillard’s rapping partner and cousin, Brookfield Duece soon. Duece has been telling me to come into the booth and give rapping a try, that’s something I may do. We’ll see, we’ll see.
Other than that, not much. Maybe I’ll be more involved with the BIG3, but I don’t make that call. We will just have to wait and see.
[Featured Image by Elsa/Getty Images]