One of the questions that we received into the Bat Phone multiple times yesterday asked for my take on Jason Quick vs. Greg Oden. If you're late to the party, Dwight has some audio that you should listen to: an interview that Quick did with 1080 The Fan during the last road trip, in which he says some borderline-nasty things about Greg that you don't usually hear a beat writer saying about an NBA player, especially an NBA player with the visibility of Greg Oden. These comments found their way to TrueHoop yesterday and Deadspin this morning.
There has been a lot of criticism of Quick for his comments. I exchanged emails with him yesterday looking for his reaction to the delayed attention his comments have received. This afternoon, he has posted a must-read public response to the criticism.
First off, I listened to them and was, quite frankly, embarrassed. I didn't intend to come across so abrasive, but I did, and I have no other choice but to own up to it. There is one line I would like to take back, where I said "I can't stand to be around" Oden. I think a more accurate reflection of my feelings would have been to say 'I'm sick of dealing with the entity of Greg Oden." The entity of Oden is the media mosh pits around him. It's hearing stupid questions, like ones about his beard. It's the incessant questions on the radio, and in internet chats, about him. And yes, it's the actual dealing with Greg himself. I totally stand by my comments that the guy is not pleasant to be around. There is nothing enjoyable about it.
First off, I listened to them and was, quite frankly, embarrassed. I didn't intend to come across so abrasive, but I did, and I have no other choice but to own up to it.
There is one line I would like to take back, where I said "I can't stand to be around" Oden. I think a more accurate reflection of my feelings would have been to say 'I'm sick of dealing with the entity of Greg Oden." The entity of Oden is the media mosh pits around him. It's hearing stupid questions, like ones about his beard. It's the incessant questions on the radio, and in internet chats, about him. And yes, it's the actual dealing with Greg himself. I totally stand by my comments that the guy is not pleasant to be around. There is nothing enjoyable about it.
In the post-game locker room sessions, sometimes I find myself watching JQ as much as I watch the players. That sounds weird but for someone who is straight up addicted to the stories that get told about this team, it's completely unavoidable. Quick is a force of nature.
He walks into the locker room or team office: you notice, Brandon notices, Nate notices ("What's up, Quick?," with a smile), everyone notices. Invariably, within 60 seconds, Quick turns on his Oprah voice -- speaking very softly, pensively, asking questions almost one word at a time so that the player is in a relaxed state --- and then the good quotes start flowing. A few times I've found myself in situations where a group of reporters finishes interviewing a player, leaving only JQ and myself standing with the player. It is an incredible sensation: almost immediately I feel like I'm intruding upon a private conversation. The feeling to "get out" comes quickly and sharply. It's kind of like rolling up on your parents making out when you're a kid. MUST LEAVE NOW.
Whether you care to admit it or not, Quick carries serious weight in the Blazers locker room. He has the respect of the three most important personaties: Brandon, Nate and Kevin. There's no debating or arguing that point -- none. During a practice session earlier this year, Quick reached up and grabbed Nate's shoulders during an interview, something akin to tossing raw meat in the direction of Jerryd Bayless. I was ready to bolt but Nate barely flinched.
Does that mean every player, every team official and every coach tells JQ their deepest, darkest secrets about life just by virtue of his being there? No, it doesn't. Does that mean KP won't float some cockamamie through him every once in awhile? No, it doesn't. But it does mean that if you want to more deeply appreciate the coverage of this team, you might consider changing how you view Quick.
It's time to give up seeing JQ as the team's "beat writer" once and for all. Put a fork in that. That is a very restrictive term and it is so 1997. Calling him a "beat writer" does a disservice to his voice and his range; look at what else this man does. He is the go-to guy on sports radio. He writes personal columns (more opinion, more background) in the paper and online. He podcasts. He blogs (sort of). He is willing to give detailed answers and interviews to bloggers like us.
Each of those media has different conventions and demands; it's impossible to be all of those things and still be a "beat writer." Why? Because "beat writing" is dying with newspapers. Tough break but those are the facts. And, judging by the diversification of his talents, I suspect that Quick understands that better than almost anyone else in the business.
Given all of that, how should you view JQ?
JQ is a one man media cyclone. Treat him as such. As you guys voted last week, he is the Blazers Media MVP. Not just for the first quarter but for as long as he is in Portland. He is Dwight Schrute, Dunder Mifflin's Salesman of the Month 13 times in the last 12 months (twice in February). He is as close to being a part of the team as I can imagine a reporter becoming. Don't believe me? Ask practically any one in the media that spends time around him-- and I have-- they will all tell you the same thing.
I suggest you view Jason Quick simply as "Talent."
Just as Brandon defies labelling as a 1 or a 2, depending on the situation, Quick defies the strict labelling as "beat writer" or "columnist" or even "personality." Get past those conventions. They are a waste of your time. They won't exist in 5 years, or at least the roles will have changed so our current understanding will not suffice. In 5 years, though, Quick will still be Talent. And while you stress out about conventions today, Quick is out breaking another story, or two, or three. And changing how NBA reporting happens along the way.
Do I hope Quick chooses his words better than he did in the 1080 interview? Absolutely. Was it important that he got called out on these comments? Absolutely. But nobody's perfect. Brandon fell victim to a late-game double team on Wednesday night; Quick fell victim to some slightly loose lips in Washington. It happens. Appreciate the man's dedication to his craft and forward-thinking approach to team coverage. They are a daily gift to every Blazers fan.
Do not take your eye off this ball... Newspapers are going bankrupt on a daily basis; Quick's coverage remains money day in and day out.
-- Ben (email@example.com) or Bat Phone: 503-719-1790