August 22nd, 2006--ten years ago today--I sat down to write my first article for Blazer's Edge.
In a medium where longevity is often defined in months, it's pretty amazing that ten years on we're still doing this together.
In case you're curious, here's that first post. It's pretty humble. The world was different then and I didn't want to scare anybody away. For those looking for historical context, the site was started by Lance Uppercut--a.k.a. Casey Holdahl--in March of that year but before he could get traction, the siren song of running the OregonLive blog called. After a dead interval in which the site went dark, I came on board...linked by Casey to Tyler Blezinski, then the central figure at SBNation. Tyler gave me the run-through of how to use the platform, a few words of support, and we were off.
Prior to Blazer's Edge most of my Blazers writing experience had come in the context of a select e-mail group, an artifact of old AOL message boards where we pared out all the trolling and just talked business. For years I discussed Arvydas Sabonis and Rasheed Wallace in the company of peers. A couple of journalists were in the circle, including Eric Marentette, who had OregonLive before Casey took it. Suddenly Marentette went on a trip for a couple weeks and handed the keys to O-Live over to me (with his editor's kind permission). It was the off-season. I posted as much as I could come up with to keep Eric's seat warm. One person commented under a post, "This new guy sure thinks a lot of himself and his opinions, huh?" Right afterwards somebody else replied, "Shut up. He's generating content and giving us things to think about." Thus part of the central ethos of Blazer's Edge was born. If it's interesting, we'll talk about it.
And talk we have. Not only have we walked together through first-overall draft picks, playoff rebirths, the tragedy of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy injuries, the wizardry of drafting Damian Lillard and the agony of losing LaMarcus Aldridge, we've also discussed sports and religion, race, gender, politics, sexual orientation, and anything that seemed relevant to our journey together. We've sent thousands and thousands of underprivileged kids to see the Blazers play via Blazer's Edge Night. We've done it all while retaining a sense of dignity, identity, and togetherness.
That, in the end, is what Blazer's Edge is about. It's not a place where people say, "I disagree with you so I'm free to say whatever I want, then dismiss your entire existence." We debate, struggle, listen, and learn together. As I've said a few times, sport has no inherent value. You can't eat the ability to throw an orange ball through an even more orange circle, nor can you live off the urge to talk about same. The value comes not in the sport itself, but in sport's ability to transform and enlarge our world as we gather corporately around it. We are bonded by a common center, off of which we radiate like spokes of a wheel. As we talk those spokes connect, not by aligning on the same side but by becoming more aware of each other and the view across the other edge of the center. Seeing farther, we enjoy each other more, learning how to take care of each other and the community we create through our mutual interest.
Ten years and 6200 posts later on--don't even try to figure the word count--I owe thanks to many people. Eric Marentette, Casey Holdahl, and Tyler Blezinski first showed faith in me, as well as those folks who first allowed me into their e-mail lives and helped to hone my writing and arguing ability. SBNation doesn't get near enough credit for supporting sites the way it does. Blazer's Edge is not the only network blog passing the decade mark. That's a credit to SBNation's passion, commitment, and the best platform in the universe. Seth Pollack is the head of our NBA division and he, particularly, has given insight without which we'd still be in the Dark Ages. Ben Golliver was the first person to join me as a co-editor, moving the site from a one-man show to a staff situation. He helped transform us into a news-ready site and remains our most famous alumnus...every bit of fame well-deserved. Our current staff of 24 is committed, talented, and innovative. Our stable of writers and podcasters (and soon more!) stacks up against anyone, anywhere. They bring you the news in an instant, analyze it more thoroughly than anyone, and keep you chatting on site and via social media. I would not trade this group for the world...nor for DeMarcus Cousins.
Most of all thanks go out to all of you, the readers and discussion partners who enjoy being part of this community and make the miracle happen. This has never been about me. It's about us or it doesn't mean a thing. Thanks for walking with us. Here's to more decades of discussion to come!