Greg Oden Photo Credit: Icon SMI
The latest installment of ETB’s Scribes of the NBA series features one Ryne Nelson, a man you likely know as “Odenized.” Last season the name of his blog became synonymous with the human side NBA video capture. His daily assortment of humor, drama, novelty, interview and fisticuffs clips from the previous evening’s action became a staple of nearly every NBA-related blog on the internet – including ETB.
His YouTube channel has 375 videos, many of them with well over 100,000 views and dozens of links. If you follow the NBA on the blogosphere at all then you’ve seen his work.
Ryne has also recently signed on to be an online editor for SLAMonline, making his love of the NBA a full-time gig. He was gracious enough to sit down and respond to ten questions from ETB, and the responses range from the future of Odenized.com to the future of the NBA’s online video presence, touching on Charles Barkley, Dikembe “Cookie Monster” Mutombo, Kobe Bryant and Julian Wright in between.
Empty the Bench: How do you do it? During the regular season I’m watching the NBA all night almost every night, and you manage to capture just about every piece of drama I see. What’s your technical setup and process like?
Ryne Nelson: First off, thanks for having me.
I watch every minute of every game… all at once.
People who don’t know me think Odenized is run by multiple authors (they also think I’m Greg Oden, and they’re wrong on that as well).
Also, people who do know me think I don’t know the NBA when I say things like Monta Ellis is a Top 25 player… but I’ve watched every game since the middle of January 2008 until Game 6 of the Playoffs – I’ve seen plenty of Monta Ellis and plenty of everyone else.
Also know I didn’t buy anything but cable internet to run Odenized. So… anyone with the time, passion and eye for key moments can do what I did. Basically, you need to find a live stream (this is the hardest part) and capture the parts you deem most important. For me, getting the goods was easy.
You have to be careful whenever you find a live stream because they’re often in a foreign language (more on this in another question) and/or the quality sucks. I always scour the net until I find the best available stream.
Overall, it’s a true NBA fan’s dream – I watch every game and interact with other NBA fans from around the globe!
The origin of “Odenized” and the future of SLAMonline and NBA video after the jump…
ETB: “Odenized” is one of the most recognizable names in the NBA blogosphere. What’s the origin?
Nelson: The origin of Odenized goes back to around Christmas 2004 (way before the majority of basketball fans knew Greg Oden). I was a college freshman, and contacted a long-time Chicago newspaper journalist about how to get my writing noticed. Via email, she introduced me to blogs, and I created a free Blogger account just days later. At the time, Moveable Type and Blogger were the two names in the game, and Blogger was the easiest to set up and use. WordPress was quickly gaining speed, but it was nowhere near what it is today. Now, I’d wholeheartedly recommend WordPress to anyone looking to begin a blog.
To my knowledge, TrueHoop was the only major NBA blog that existed four years ago. I reached out to Henry Abbott, and he was the pinnacle of class. Even then, TrueHoop had a large following and it encouraged me to keep on keeping on. I used my blog as a digital resume – linking to my NBA columns and features that were originally published on other sites. Already, I wrote weekly basketball columns for the University of Illinois’ student newspaper, so I’d link those as well.
After ten months, I took a break from writing on my blog. I’d cover a couple Bulls games and write a couple pieces on my site, but it was nothing to shake a stick at.
Along comes 2008, and college graduation is right around the corner. The blogosphere blew up like a balloon on crack, and I’d been out the game for a very, very long time. I played fantasy basketball, but I didn’t have a television for that last three years as I moved from dorm to dorm to apartment to apartment. To make a long story short, I knew I had to watch games to succeed. So I found ways to stream games on my MacBook.
HoopsVibe’s editor C.Y. Ellis told me about BallHype and YardBarker and how they could help get your work noticed. So I began throwing quick opinion pieces onto these social news sites, and they’d get no love (of course). Opinion pieces work if your name is Vescey, so I chose to change things up.
The first thing I changed was my blog’s name. Before, it was The InkSpot – you can’t get more generic than that! I wanted it to be catchy and new. So I literally looked through all of Urban Dictionary’s Words of the Day (because people created most of those themselves), and decided I wanted to use the suffix –ized. The next step was fairly easy – pick a young player everyone has an opinion about. I knew everyone had an opinion about Darko Milicic and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, but these guys had been in the League for awhile.
I wanted to make my blog fresher. So I restricted the potential players to rookies and sophomores.
I had my criteria: 1) Super-young players, and 2) Players the public has an opinion about. And, on top of that, the name had to sound good with –ized at the end! Greg Oden was the obvious choice!
Only later did I learn TrueHoop had a post about being Odenized, so I used that as inspiration while I redesigned the site.
ETB: Major kudos on your new gig for SLAMonline, one of the absolute best hoops destinations on the net. It’s always fun to see a fellow blogger get a good gig. What are you trying to bring to the SLAMonline team? Can we expect them to utilize more video now?
Nelson: Thanks! And, yes, SLAMonline will have great original video in the future. What’s great about SLAM is the resources and access are there, we just need to implement a plan. More than likely, you’ll see players off the court, in their natural environment (still doing interesting things and saying interesting stuff) than anything on-court like Odenized did.
By the way, I’m speaking in the past tense about Odenized because I’m not sure about its future. Certainly there will be times when I’m able to ‘odenize’ next season, but SLAMonline is my No. 1 priority. There’s nothing I’d love more than to continue Odenized, but honestly, we have a lot of work to do with SLAMonline in order to make it the Internet presence it should be.
ETB: What do you see the future of online video as it pertains to the NBA going in the next 5 – 10 years?
Nelson: The NBA will stream every game in high definition. I envision their setup will similar to that of an iTunes payment system. Really simple, very easy to access. I could see them charging users $1 per night of NBA action.
This whole internet streaming phenomenon is primarily utilized by people in other countries who don’t have regular NBA programming. It’s a major target audience on which the NBA is desperately trying to capitalize. In ten years, a dude from Scotland will be able to easily watch live, high-quality NBA action on his computer just as easily as a dude from Illinois can watch from his television. Fans around the globe want to follow their countrymen as they compete against the world’s best talent. The NBA will make it simple for them to do so.
When this happens, the League’s popularity will explode. This will make expansion to other countries much easier.
ETB: Who was the Odenized MVP, the guy who gave you the greatest clips over the course of the season (in the studio, locker room or on the court)?
Nelson: Charles Barkley. You can easily tell by the top results under the Odenized search widget. Barkley just blows the rest out of the water. I knew I was okay every Thursday night because even if the games were duds, Barkley would say or do something hilarious or outrageous. TNT was right to lock him up with a fat contract. He’s absolute money in the studio!
ETB: Of all the comedy and/or drama clips you posted last season, which was your favorite?
Nelson: The Rockets imitating Dikembe [Ed. Cookie Monster] Mutombo.
Generally, I’ll laugh a couple times at the video and never watch it again. This, however, I probably watched at least 100 times in the ensuing 48 hours. I personally boosted the clip to one of YouTube’s most popular videos that week!
The Rockets were riding that historic win-streak, the team was so close and so together, and their imitations were priceless. This was by far the season’s best two minutes of halftime shtick. In general, the Rockets do an excellent job of producing interesting halftime entertainment. I can only think of a handful of teams who broadcast enjoyable halftime shows, and Houston certainly does it the best.
ETB: What was the absolute sickest dunk of the season? As a fan, what do you look for in a dunk and what dunkers get you excited?
Nelson: I don’t like to make highlight clips because there’s not much to say about them… unless it’s Kobe serving Dwight Howard a nut shot or something. I’d rather clip funny, interesting, dramatic or controversial material to aid the blogosphere the next day.
Oddly, the facial that stands-out most is when O.J. Mayo boomed on Hilton Armstrong in summer league two weeks ago. Check it out on Odenized; that’s best quality you’ll find on the net outside of the ESPN highlight packages. The game was only viewable via webcast so the clip is as rare as they come. Summer league was often brutal without any editing or commenting. It makes you appreciate the broadcast quality during the season…even if I have to listen to (the NBA’s ultimate homers) Chris Marlowe and Scott Hastings on Nuggets broadcasts!
ETB: Who is the one underrated NBA player you would love to interview, why, and what would you ask him about?
Nelson: Julian Wright. He’s on the verge of becoming a very good player in this League… and I still need to know why he denied me his shoes four years ago when he was visiting University of Illinois.
ETB: Kobe Bryant: love him or hate him? Was he the MVP?
Nelson: Yes, there’s no question in my mind. Until the NBA Finals, Kobe was a completely different player – different than we’ve ever seen him. He became my favorite player to watch, and I was always happy to stay up late to see him compete.
However, the Finals turned him into a different animal, aka the old Kobe. He was frustrated with his team and frustrated with losing. He became downright nasty. I’m becoming more and more convinced he’ll revert to the Kobe of old next season. It’s nice watching him when he’s having fun and trusting his teammates and making viral videos on KB24.com. However, I just can’t imagine him doing that next season.
ETB: What was your favorite pick in the NBA draft this summer? What sleepers do you think will have an impact?
Nelson: Without doubt, it’s Russell Westbrook. This guy is going to be a star and a champion. No one’s talking about him, but he has the potential to be the best player in this loaded draft class.
Unfortunately, I haven’t caught a ton of NBA summer league, but I’ve seen enough to pick some sleepers. Marreese Speights could be a solid contributor off the Philadelphia bench, especially with their lack of depth in the frontcourt. Sure Elton Brand bolsters their chances for a title, but Speights’ development is crucial if they’re going to win it all.
The Wizards’ JaVale McGee could be a superb player in the future when he develops. Mario Chalmers will become Miami’s starting point by default. Anthony Randolph is a stud who won’t get burn in Don Nelson’s system. Oh, and Courtney Lee could put up 8-10 points this season in the Magic’s system.
Recommended Viewing/Reading at Odenized/SLAMonline:
More ETB’s Scribes of the NBA Interview Series:
– J.E. Skeets of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie
– David Friedman of 20 Second Timeout
– Ron Hitley of Hornets 24/7
– Ryne “Odenized” Nelson of SLAMonline
– Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty and FanHouse
– Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops
– Dave Deckard of Blazer’s Edge
– Kurt of Forum Blue and Gold
– Brian Powell of Awful Announcing
– Lee Grammier of The Dream Shake
– Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead
– Scott Carefoot of Raptor Blog
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 1
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 2
– Matt Watson of AOL FanHouse and Detroit Bad Boys
– Natalie Sitto of Need4Sheed.com