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Canada’s Loss is Our Gain: The Basketball Jones are now The Starters

October 2, 2013

About four years ago, my friend Dan Devine tipped me off to this video podcast that a couple of Canadian guys did in a rec room talking NBA. If I remember correctly, the first episode I watched had one of them wearing a shark suit because the other guy picked more games correctly. With that episode, I became a fan of The Basketball Jones.

Back then, The Jones was a trio of J.E. Skeets (then editor of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie), Tas Melas, and producer JD. They shot it early in the morning before going to their day jobs, and I watched it in the afternoon after coming home from mine. It was funny, they played great music, it was crisply edited, but most importantly, it was smart. Even when running through a slate of a dozen games, Skeets and Melas went beyond the tired assumptions and one-liners that passes for analysis on most shows. They were clearly fans, but they were thoughtful and insightful and dedicated to learning more about the game, and it showed. After obsessing over the NBA in my formative years, I drifted away from the league. The Basketball Jones brought me back.

Here’s the very first video episode the Jones did after a few years as an audio only show. They look so young! Two things stand out to me today watching this: Skeets and Tas have a sharp eye for basketball, and they were clearly committed to making the show happen, as it was recorded so early that you can watch the sun rise in the window behind them.

A little while later, The Jones struck a deal with The Score in Canada to produce the show full time. They could quit their day jobs and get paid to talk about the NBA. I was so thrilled for them, and watching their Announcement today reminds me how excited I was for them.

They had a run on Canadian television, they started making additional videos where they sang Christmas carols and had a Nerf-hoop slam dunk contest on the street outside All Star Weekend. First, they added “intern” Matt, who later became their producer and occasional foil. They recruited Trey Kerby, one of the finest hoops bloggers, funniest (and gifted) writers, and chillest bros on the internet. They recruited the Aussie Leigh Ellis, a gregarious presence who could do goofy things like turn the “Tweet of the Week” into a ramshackle comedy corner (complete with “army” of shoutouts) or open a vintage pack of basketball cards like he was a kid. I went from watching the videos after work to listening religiously in my car during my commute, and it kept me plugged in with the league.

So today, when the six members of the Jones announced that they moved to Atlanta, joined NBA.com / NBA TV, and are now known as The Starters (complete with a professional promo photo and press release!), I feel that same sense of pride I felt the afternoon they announced that they were moving to The Score. Simply put, they are the best at what they do, and it’s good to see them rewarded (and, by working for the media arm of the league they cover, being validated at a major level) for their passion project. On a selfish level, I’m excited for their continued output and seriously contemplating upgrading my cable package. Most significantly, I’m looking forward to having them accompany me on my twilight drive to work, letting their discussion of defensive rotations, rapper-broadcaster feuds, and brilliantly dumb puns wake my brain up on my way to work. It’s also a reminder on those early mornings, the same as in Episode 330 and so many others, that when you’re doing what you love, an early start isn’t that bad.

Congrats to Skeets, Tas, Trey, Leigh, Matt, and JD, and I hope more NBA fans join us in our appreciation this season and beyond.

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From → sports, the internet

One Comment
  1. Sally permalink

    Great post!!!

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