Believe me when I say that this is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, but after four years, I'm leaving The Dream Shake, starting today.
I once told myself that when the day finally arrived, I would somehow enjoy writing my farewell post on The Dream Shake. Undoubtedly, that is one of the dumbest thoughts that has ever crossed my mind, because this is a horrible, horrible post to write.
It saddens me to announce that I'm leaving The Dream Shake, effective immediately. Patrick Harrel is your new editor on my recommendation, and I have no doubt he'll do a great job. He's gotten better and better as a writer ever since he joined the site, and he's only going to get better from here. That goes for the site as a whole, too.
Between one final semester of schoolwork and a necessary dedication to padding my TV resume in order to land a good local sportscasting job, I've decided that it's time for me to go. It's been a little over four years now since I first joined TDS — that's a really long time in blogger years, I think. Perhaps four years is my shelf life in writing about the Rockets, because it has indeed gotten a little old after all this time. Yet, I'll admit, there are more reasons to stay than to go, but the reasons to stick around aren't quite as important to my broadcast career, and I think I'd be failing myself if I didn't recognize that.
At the same time, it makes me giddy to think about all of the experiences I've had since I started writing here and it makes me want to stay if only so I can add to those. The radio show appearances, the guest writing on other legitimate basketball sites, the NBA draft credentials... it's all been so much fun, and it's been even more fun to have shared those experiences with all of you who decided to click, type and come to our site.
These Rockets teams have been fun to cover and watch over the years, despite the mediocre trio of seasons that preceded this year's efforts. I'll never forget the playoff run without Tracy McGrady and the series win over Portland with a healthy Yao Ming (oh, how I miss writing about Yao Ming). That year was something else, wasn't it? Luckily, ever since, the Rockets have remained a first-class franchise, and although TDS may have veered more towards the professional side of things (I think?) in later years, it's still nice to be able to root for this team as a fan. That stance never changed, no matter how many times I kept myself from saying 'we' when referring to the team. Dave will disagree, but I think The Dream Shake kept its integrity as a unique community and as an original team blog, no matter what we faced — good and less good — in the wake of SB Nation's growth and emergence. Which has been quite astounding, I must say.
Initially, I wasn't going to write up a personal list of thank-you's to save everyone the time, but then I realized I may never have a chance to thank everyone who deserves it. So bear with me, I'm going to my best to remember everyone I can:
- Thanks to SB Nation, now a bourgeoning sports media power but once a small group of sites that have somehow all stuck together and evolved equally over the years. It's amazing to see what the company has accomplished in such short time. Special thanks go out to Seth Pollack, for his help in keeping TDS in line with SBN's other first-class NBA sites, and to bloggers in crime Seth Rosenthal, Mike Levin, and Mike Prada, for keeping it real at the NBA draft in back-to-back seasons. Special thanks to Prada for driving me back to my hotel in the worst part of Newark.
- While I'm at it, to everyone who helped me start up SB Nation Houston back when I thought I could manage to run it along with everything else I was doing: Tyler Bleszinski, Lauren Fisher, Dustin Rensink, David Coleman, Jordan Wise, Rivers McCown, Alex Cohn and others (especially Robert Reid for showing up to the promotional gathering, that was fantastic). It was fun while it lasted, and I'm glad it helped serve as a launching pad for Mr. McCown, now with Football Outsiders.
- To Rockets GM Daryl Morey for randomly chatting every now and then and for taking time out to talk during the D-League showcase a few seasons ago. He even complimented the site, which made me wonder if we were being too lenient.
- To two other Rockets employees: A) Team ticket sales rep John Donovan for helping us get the readers some pretty sweet discount ticket deals and for stopping by to chat during games whenever the crew headed there ourselves. B) Rockets.com beat writer Jason Friedman, to whom I owe quite a bit. He's been on our podcast a few times, plus he's welcomed myself and Rahat Huq on his own podcast multiple times and never hesitated to help with anything at all. Nicest guy in the business, bar none.
- To Kelly Dwyer, for once throwing an anti-Solomon post of mine into his 10-Man Rotation over at Ball Don't Lie (some things you just don't forget).
- To David Nuño and Raheel Ramzanali for allowing some random high school kid (me) on a major-market radio show, which then led to me getting to do a show on just about every other station (except you, 610). We decided that I was a double-major at Rice University in order to add some credibility, that much I remember. Thankfully, each of these guys appears to have moved on to better things (by some measures, at least), but really, sincerest thanks go to Nuño for aiding me in my broadcast career when he never really had to. Go watch him kill it on ABC 13, please.
- To Matt Moore, primarily for being a fellow Mizzou fan in the basketball blogosphere, and also for keeping me in line a few times on Twitter when I might have otherwise gone overboard on a few topics.
- Speaking of which, dearest thanks to Hamed Haddadi, for doing the exact same thing.
- To Tas Melas and J.E. Skeets of The Basketball Jones, for hosting me on their pre-draft show a couple of times and for chatting at the draft when we crossed paths. We also had Melas on the Dreamcast once, and make no mistake, he's the inspiration for anyone trying to tackle an NBA player impression (see: Turkoglu, Hedo).
- To Steve Weinman, formerly of CelticsBlog and now of the Chicago Bulls' basketball operations department. I'm happy to have called Steve a friend ever since he recruited me to Mizzou, talked basketball with me at lunch every so often, fed me the ball during rec basketball games with Grantland's Robert Mays and kept up with me in some form or another ever since. He won't agree with me, but keep an eye on the name, folks, because he could end up with a GM position some day. Calling it early, just a hunch.
- To the staff: Armin, Patrick(s), Brandon, Matt (OAL), Christian, Mike, Miguel, Abel, Thomas, for dedicating time to write and contribute merely as a fun hobby. You guys have put up with me for a while now (at least most of you have), and while Matt may be lost on a desert island somewhere, the rest of you stuck around. Thanks for helping make this place unique, textured and talent-ridden, and for having as much fun as you could in the process. I'm going to miss writing with you guys, it really was a pleasure.
- To Lee Grammier and David Clark, for taking a chance on me, BringBackNovak, as a high school senior, and for letting me handle things once they both decided to get busy with real-life jobs. I can't count the number of benefits that I've received from heading up TDS — both for fun and for my journalism career — and none of it would have happened had they not decided I was the appropriate third wheel. They'll get sick of me crediting them with everything that I've experienced in my four years here, but I'm going to keep reminding them just how much I appreciate what they've done for me.
- And finally, to the readers, especially the regular commenters but also to those who have lurked for a long time without deciding to post. All of you are the reason I kept up with this site, because without readers, blogging to oneself is just a terrible, terrible pastime (trust me, been there). You guys kept me on my toes and kept me ready to post whenever news broke or whenever analysis was needed. And you've built this blog up into a real powerhouse among those in the NBA community, because while we can write all we want, without a loyal readership, it's not near as rewarding on many levels. So thank you, each and every one of you.
You know, I will say this: I take comfort in knowing that when I look back on what should be some of the best years of my life — those spent in college in Missouri — there were so many changing dynamics that made it memorable, but throughout them all remained one constant in The Dream Shake. It was never a burden but rather a welcome return to normalcy if I was ever struggling in anything else. This was a backbone of sorts for me for the past four years, and now it's time to give it up.
Ultimately, I'm going to keep my name on the masthead, and I'll drop in every now and then as a commenter and a fan, but I'm done writing for the foreseeable future, I can guarantee that much, unfortunately. At the same time, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@TomMartin4) or keep up in some form or another so I can still talk basketball with some of the best fans in the business on a regular basis. I don't want that to change at all. You guys will have to fill me in on everything going on with the team, if anything.
Until next time, 'Shakers. Best wishes to all of you. I can't believe this is happening.