Oscar the Grouch's alter ego takes a temporary sabbatical.
A Daily Babble Production
By definition, this is not an easy piece to write. That's because it will be the final edition of the Daily Babble to come your way for the foreseeable future.
I received an offer from the National Basketball Association for temporary employment this summer, and I have accepted what I consider an opportunity I can't pass up. For the next couple of months, I will be working in the league office, completing a myriad of tasks for the NBA's marketing communications department. I'm thrilled to have the chance to expand my understanding of the league's operations and sports media relations, and I'm looking forward to meeting any number of new people and engaging in a set of new experiences in the time to come. Thanks to Heather Roberts, Michael Bass and Adam Silver at the NBA for helping make this possible.
I'm proud to say the offer from the league came about largely as a result of the work I have done since arriving at CelticsBlog nearly a year and a half ago. However, while working for the Association, I will be unable to continue writing for a team-oriented site such as this one.
At this point, I expect to be with the NBA through early August. As WFAN's Eddie Scozzare once told me, there are no guarantees in this life, and I have no idea what the next couple of months will hold for me on a personal level. But as it stands now, I have no reason to doubt that I will return to my role as your humble Daily Babbler here at CelticsBlog during the latter portion of the offseason's dog days.
But as long as I've got your attention one last time for now, if you wouldn't mind, please indulge me for just a few more minutes for some scrambled thoughts as I offer you my temporary farewell.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of four o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, December 5, 2007, I sent a hurried email to a prominent blogger named Jeff Clark. I had been writing daily for a small but growing audience at my old site for nine months at that point. I told Jeff that I wrote a general NBA column but was a huge Celtics fan and had enjoyed reading his rather Celtics-centric site from afar. I was looking for something new for myself at the time and figured it couldn't hurt to take a shot in the dark by asking if there was anything at all I could do to help out around the site.
When I woke up a few hours later, I found myself the new lead man on the general NBA beat at CelticsBlog.com.
You can imagine how surprised I was to receive an email telling me that I didn't need to introduce myself, that Jeff already knew who I was. Count me even more surprised when, just like that, he asked me to bring my work aboard. So that's where the debt of gratitude begins: Jeff Clark took a chance on me. Then-webmaster Bob Day took a chance on me. So did managing editor Green17. When he offered me the honor of serving as a moderator several months later, forums manager Roy Hobbs followed suit. Same goes for Justin Poulin at Celtics Stuff Live, the man who eventually offered me the chance to represent CB and CSL at the 2008 NBA Draft, which in its own right marked a new beginning of my odyssey toward the inside of the NBA.
Those individuals offered me the chance to do my own small part to play a role in what was already a fantastic community of a web site. I can't thank them and the rest of our fine writing, editing and moderating staff enough for the honor of sharing this corner of the Interwebs with them.
Of course, I have thus far omitted one other major factor here, perhaps the biggest one of all: you.
No matter what we on staff do here, you make this site the community that it is. You give our words meaning by coming to read them, offering your feedback and driving discussion in the comments sections and forums.
You welcomed me into this community with open arms and made me one of your own almost instantly. You tolerated and in some cases even embraced content in every area imaginable, including screeds after every Celtics game, musings about Renaldo Balkman's trade value, tales of hooping with Missouri starters Zaire Taylor and Leo Lyons, philosophical ramblings about statistical analysis, the background of my hate-hate relationship with the Knicks and the piece that has carried the most significance for me, the narrative of my trip to the finals with my dad. You supported me in blending chatter about obscure free agents around the league, statistical numbers crunching, game analysis and personal sentiment into one small block of web space. You helped a Long Island native buried in the Midwest feel as though he were always in the midst of a sea of green diehards.
You allowed me to turn my dad into a mini-celebrity. The Guru enjoys telling people that he got intercontinental birthday wishes (thanks in particular to Casperian) each of the last couple of years. You made me stop and self-edit "fans around the country" to "fans across the globe" more times than you can imagine (thanks, ACF, cordobes, celticmaestro, Drucci, blueygreen, Edgar, Kiorrik, nox45 and several others). You reminded me that despite being more than 1,000 miles away from the hub of Celtics fandom, I wouldn't be dining alone as I tried in vain to find a sports bar that carried Celtics-Knicks in the Midwest as my gift to myself for my most recent birthday (thanks, Thruthelookingglass).
So many of you have welcomed me into your lives. As I wrote my postgame piece on the night the Boston Celtics' won their 17th NBA championship, CelticBalla32 and I rejoiced via Instant Message until the sun rose in the East. In those same wee hours, Who and I celebrated by exchanging links to clips from the "Karate Kid" trilogy. I've greatly enjoyed hearing about Hoyo de Monterrey's youth basketball coaching triumphs and tribulations, Redz's journey back into academia, Toine43's college application process, Thruthelookingglass' enjoyment of the Spartans' run to the NCAA tourney final, The Walker Wiggle's updates on life in New York when I'm out of town, nazzbo's love of Monta Ellis, Finkelskyhook's plans to journey to Kansas City to see his beloved Red Sox and cordobes' road trip plans for the Euroleague championships.
I miss no kidding and Bahku and wonder when they are coming back. We need to hear more often from Reyquila and Cousin It, two of our finest. Same goes for Celtics Central's Tom "tenaciousT" Halzack, one of my most respected writing mentors. DJ Bento Box and wondahbap have done an excellent job providing commentary from the purple-and-gold side of the tracks, and I can't believe it took me this long to publicly congratulate wondah on earning a writing position at Silver Screen and Roll. My ego is still swelling from the time bdm860 asked me about meeting up at a Celtics-Knicks game that I was unfortunately unable to attend. Same goes for Reggies Ghost telling me it would be an honor to use his graphic talents of Web-wide renown to design me a forums signature meshing the Celtics and Oscar the Grouch.
Master Po is one of a kind. Schupac and I share a love of "The Big Lebowski." I still feel bad about the first time I called Eddie House "Eddie Money" without attributing to theBird, who thankfully forgave me. Our dark lord always manages to stay positive. I enjoy how often crownsy and Celtic save me some typing by writing what I'm thinking in a more concise and entertaining matter. Nickagneta is awesome to the point that I can forgive his being a Nebraska fan. I can't thank CoachBo enough for constantly sharing his insights about coaching high school hoops, teaching journalism, Danny Ainge, James Posey, Tony Allen, dumpster diving and everything in between. The same goes for Roy Hobbs, with whom I've conversed about matters in all walks of life. A year ago, I had never met my oft-referenced friend Lee, who has contributed so much to the Babble and Boxed Out this season. Now, we chat almost daily, and I owe him plenty for making this season that much more enjoyable by chatting with me throughout each game this season.
The list goes on. And on. And further on. So if I haven't mentioned you by name here, you had best believe it has more to do with time and space constraints than anything else. Because all of you have made being involved here an absolute pleasure from day one.
And so have two more folks despite the fact that they are a bit less vocal in the comments section on site. In addition to leading the Celtics in plus-minus over the last two seasons, Mama Weinman has always provided unwavering support for all my efforts, emailed quick notes to remind me of embarrassing typos and pushed me to keep looking for more from myself. Thanks for everything, Mom.
That brings us to the final thank-you, to the man who has read and printed every word ever written in this space without ever charging me for the reams of paper or binders this required or complaining about the space in his office they took up. It would take another several years worth of Babbles to say enough about The Guru, but I will say this: If being Steve Weinman's father ever brings him even half as much pride as calling myself Howard Weinman's son brings me, I'll feel pretty good about myself.
Never for a second have I regretted the many nights spent in front of my computer until three, four or five o'clock in the morning, writing until I passed out at my desk or on my floor. I relish the fact that this constituency of fans won't accept laziness in my content, that you keep me honest and hold me accountable for my oft-silly predictions and ramblings. I learn a ton from many of you each day. Seeing the support in this thread was humbling. Serving such an insightful and informed readership has made my role more of a joy with each passing day, and I will miss it while I'm gone.
There is no doubt in my mind that CelticsBlog will not miss a beat in my absence. While I won't be Babbling, I'll certainly be lurking on the front page and in the forums when I have a free moment. It is always a pleasure to hear from any of you, and I will be readily available via personal message in the forums or by email at email@example.com. Feel free to drop me a line anytime to chat about hoops or just to let me know how the world is treating you.
At long last, I'm out of words, and I've probably used far too many for what may amount to little more than a summer absence. But it never hurts to say thank you, and I owe each of you no shortage of gratitude.
Catch ya on the flip side of many meridians.