Meet the Roundtable
Sean Sweeney – Senior Editor at Dime Magazine
I’m the Senior Editor at Dime Magazine, where I cover all levels of basketball both online and in the magazine. I’ve been writing about the NBA for almost four years, mostly with Dime. I studied communications and journalism in college at Springfield (home of the Hall of Fame) and at Syracuse, and have been writing since I was a little kid. I’d never say I have a specific favorite sneaker — that differs from month to month at times. But I would say the first shoe I ever actually “noticed” was the Jordan XI. I know that’s cliche to say, but when he debuted that sneaker during the ’95 Playoffs, I was finishing up second grade and had just started playing ball. It was perfect timing. Another shoe that really got me into sneakers was the Answer IV — again perfect timing. I was in the eighth grade, Iverson was everywhere, and this was one of the first sneakers where I actually had the money to go out and get myself. I still remember going crazy over the white/red/grey joints. The other was actually the original TMAC 1. That will probably surprise more than a few people, but growing up, I never looked at sneakers like “How will these look on me at school?” or “Will I be the only one who has these?” I bought them to hoop and I bought whatever my favorite players were wearing. Safe to say I was a monster McGrady fan. I thought his line fell off pretty quickly, and even some of the eventual colorways of that first sig shoe were a little meh. But I still have the black/royal blue original and it’s still dope to me.
Dave McMenamin – Los Angeles Lakers Beat Writer for ESPN
I’ve been covering the NBA since the 2005-06 season, first looking at the league as a whole for NBA.com and more recently piling up bylines as the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for ESPN.com. But before this was my career, I’ve been a hoophead since my elementary school days and have immersed myself in the whole basketball culture that goes along with being one. So of course, that means I’m all about kicks. I started my sports journalism career writing for newspapers back when I was 14 and my love for hoops has been there every step of the way since, from my days as a high school bench warmer, to being part of a NCAA championship as a manager at Syracuse to realizing my dream of playing college ball by making the team at the University of Limerick when I studied abroad in Ireland. And as long as I’ve had basketball on my brain, I’ve cared about the kicks on my feet. Here’s an interview I did a few years back about my favorite sneakers of all time (Interview) to get a feel for what kind of treads get me going. Let’s just put it this way, I harbor aspirations of Nike someday mass producing the Air McTen.
Holly MacKenzie – Toronto Raptors Reporter for SportsNet
The start of preseason coincided with the fifth anniversary of my move to Toronto. While I grew up on the East Coast of Canada (Nova Scotia!), I moved to Toronto five years ago to chase my dream of covering the NBA. I’ve covered the league, with an emphasis often on the Toronto Raptors for various sites, magazines and newspapers along the way. During the NBA lockout, I also worked with Nike Basketball where anyone who has an appreciation for shoes will soon have that appreciation become a bit of an obsession.
Tzvi Twersky – Senior Editor at SLAM Magazine
Vocationally, I’m the senior editor at SLAM Magazine. I’ve been at SLAM since early in 2009. In that time, I’ve covered everything from teams to players, films to books, models to rappers, sneakers to lifestyle footwear. After a recent sneaker purge—like Hov said, “less is more”—I’ve narrowed my closet(s) down to a more manageable number. What’s left is far from fab, but that slight collection includes some of my favs: Olive IXs, Cav IVs, Georgetown Questions, Answer Vs, Shox BB4 and some Crazy 8 PEs. The only thing(s) better than walking in an NBA locker room and having players ask me where I copped my kicks is hitting a game-winner, writing a worthwhile story, and of course seeing the gf.
Trey Kerby – Key Contributor of NBA TV’s ‘The Starters’
When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m part of a basketball TV show called “The Starters,” premiering this Oct. 30 at 5pm on NBATV. That gives me a chance to plug our show, which is “The Starters,” premiering this Oct. 30 at 5pm on NBATV. Not only do I appear on the show, I also run our blog, also conveniently called “The Starters.” We cover the league as a whole, in just about every way imaginable. Pick-and-rolls, Nate Robinson wearing Bean Boots for a game in Boston, or Dwyane Wade trying to give himself another terrible nickname — we do everything. I started how everyone on the internet does, by wasting company time messing around on the internet while I was supposed to be working. After a long while, that somehow turned in to being a part of “The Starters,” premiering this Oct. 30 at 5pm on NBATV. Shoutout to high-speed internet access and lax firewall setups.
George Kiel – Associate Editor at NiceKicks.com
I’m the associate editor at NiceKicks.com. Since 2008, I’ve had my hands in pretty much everything here, including day-to-day staff writing, conducting interviews, editing, representing the company at media events and many other things. I’m in charge of our Kicks On Court column and have expanded it to our 2-year-old Kicks On Court Weekly Recap show. I’m also the host of our Sneak Peek series, where we visit the homes of various celebrities, athletes and sneaker enthusiasts to get an in-depth look inside their sneaker closets/collections. I studied Mass Communications/Print Journalism in college at Texas State University, where I also played on the basketball team and wrote for the Sports section of the school newspaper – University Star – simultaneously. As for sneakers, they have always been a by-product of my love for basketball. I have been playing basketball since the age of five and have always paid attention to what people wore on the court. Some of my all-time favorites on-court shoes include the Nike Air Zoom T-Bug Flight, the Nike Zoom Flight Turbine, the Nike Zoom Kobe V, the adidas Pro Model, the Air Jordan 11 and the Nike Hyperflight. All of those shoes have graced my feet at some point during my basketball career from middle school to college. I also have a weird thing for grey shoes. 75% of my shoe collection is colored in grey.
Ming Wong – Editor in Chief at HOOP Magazine
I’ve been covering the NBA for 13 years now at HOOP and this will be my 10th year as the magazine’s EIC. Even more than a sport like soccer (and those guys rely on their feet for everything) sneakers and the NBA are directly connected. I’ve always loved following the game, and the draw to sneakers naturally followed. I’m fascinated with the direction that sneakers are going now from a technological and engineering standpoint, it seems every year there is something new that is introduced that makes the shoes lighter, stronger, more durable or better performing. As much as the market is fixated with retros now, I think people are losing sight of all the great advancements in the latest releases. The times I play, I will wear the latest (but only because I’m curious about the new shoes and review some for HOOP), but off court, I stick to Air Jordan 1s, Air Maxes, Dunks, Chucks, New Balance 574s and 1300s. I used to have more variety, but recently I got rid of close to 70% of my sneakers.
Lang Whitaker – Writer for NBA.com/Reporter on NBA TV
I write for NBA.com, and podcast for NBA.com, and talk on NBA TV. Before NBA.com, I was at SLAM for about a decade. I cover the entire NBA for NBA.com blogging about funny stuff and writing essays and talking to players and whatever else needs to be done. My all-time favorite shoe is probably the Jordan III. I got into sneakers when I was in fifth grade, when I was killing time in class by reading one of those college basketball preview magazines and I saw an ad for the adidas Forum, with the Dellinger web, and I just thought they were profound. Around the same time I saw Lenny Bias play against Georgia Tech wearing Nike Terminators and I wanted the shoe so badly, so that I could play like Bias. After that I was hooked.
Andrew Ungvari – Writer for Lakers Nation
I’ve been making a living as a screenwriter since 2002. After I graduated from college, I got a job working in the new media department of a Hollywood talent agency. During the Writers Guild strike in 2007-08, I started blogging about the NBA as a means to keep active. Then Twitter came along and I was able to build a nice following. Before long I was writing a weekly column for FoxSports.com and getting featured on CBSSports.com. That eventually led to me writing for LakersNation, probably the most successful fan site amongst pro sports. Besides also being the resident basketball nerd on Nice Kicks’ series, “Kickin’ With The Dan Levy”, I’ve also done some consultant work for sports-related websites in helping them build up their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. I started getting into sneakers around the same time that the Jordans debuted. It was in 1985, when I was 8, when my dad took me to get a pair of black and red Sky Jordans for me and a pair of Air Jordans for him. I grew up in L.A. in the 80s and 90s so I’ve been obsessed with the Lakers and Magic Johnson as long as I can remember. But even my Lakers fandom wasn’t enough to ever ask my parents to buy me a pair of purple and gold Converse Weapons. I might have been a diehard fan but I still had a fashion sense. Back then the Raiders were still in L.A. so it didn’t take long for me to switch allegiances from Jordans to Bo Jackson Nike Air Trainers and Agassi Air Tech Challenges. High school for me was all about the adidas Superstars that the Beastie Boys made popular and Air Max CB 34s. I’ve lived in L.A. for 98 percent of my life. The fact that I’ve never lived more than four miles away from Sportie L.A., one of the best shoe stores in the world, has allowed me to keep up with the shoe game and find some sneakers that I probably wouldn’t find anywhere else. In terms of design, I think the most beautiful sneakers of all-time were the original Jordan IIIs, the Nike Air Tech Challenge II Hot Lavas, and the adidas Nastase Lows with the blue and red stripes. I’ve always loved simple, timeless shoes. My favorite sneaker is without question the adidas Stan Smith.
Christopher Cason – Writer for Examiner.com
I’ve been covering the Chicago Bulls for the Examiner.com for five years now. I report news, game recaps and other stories pertaining to the team. I also write for HOOP magazine and Sneaker Freaker magazine and have contributed to SLAM, Sole Collector, Counterkicks and Modern Notoriety. My start in covering the NBA came from my mentor/brother Anthony Gilbert, who introduced me to my first writing gig at a site called MVN.com. From there, the Examiner.com started in 2008 and I was contacted about coming aboard. The only way I was leaving MVN was if the Examiner would fight for me to be credentialed. They did, I’m there, and while the Examiner doesn’t help pay the bills, the access it gives me to the opportunities to work with others to tell stories – and help pay the bills – is priceless. There’s also the blessing of being able to cover a franchise that I grew up watching. I walk past the Jordan statue before each home game and make sure to step on the hardwood every game I work because it’s definitely a dream come true and something I don’t take for granted. My favorite shoe today remains the Air Jordan V. I still remember seeing my uncle in the original Black/Silver pair back in ’91. The flash of the 3M on the tongue instantly caught my eye and changed my mindset on the shoes I wanted to wear going forward, even though my mom wouldn’t get me my first pair of Jordan’s until I was 12 and it was the AJ XIII’s. A lot of my favorite models are from the 90’s because of the design stories behind them and the things that were done in them. The Royal Blue Foamposite, the Nike Air Zoom GP, Nike Hyperflights, Adidas Pro Model, Air Force 180, Air More Uptempo, Air Max Penny 1, Reebok Question.