Goodbye Cruel Watcher

by June 30, 2008

By Sam Rubenstein

Here is a post I’ve been dreading writing, but it is time.

Remember back in High School when you had a weird English teacher and you may have thought to yourself, wow that old guy sure was creepy? Well, I aspire to be that old creepy man! That’s right everyone, I am leaving the glamorous world of free trips to Vegas and New Orleans and the NBA Finals for the opportunity to teach the truth to the youth. I am sacrificing “fame”and “fortune” for the ability to… wait why am I doing this to myself!?!

I got into grad school recently with a big assist from the letters of recommendation from Ben and Lang. You would think that someone like myself who has written so much in the first-person the past few years, would just be able to knock out a personal statement in 20 minutes. But it was truly the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in a long time, digging deep down, figuring out who I really am, all of that fun stuff.

Teaching is a career path that has always been in the back of my mind, but I didn’t think I was mature enough or “ready”, but now I feel that I am, that is once I go through a year in grad school, which is not going to be easy. I had a lot of fun here at SLAM over the past four years, but now it is time to find something to do for the next 35 years or so, and then a little bit longer when I can’t afford to retire!

The site and the internet world has changed so much, beginning for us here with one meeting a few years ago where I said something to the effect of “Hey, maybe we should have like, commenters and stuff.” Things took off from there thanks to a lot of hard work from a lot of different people. If you go as far back as the old black and grey and orange, you have seen the difference, and you know how much the world has changed around it.

It used to be Lang could write one long piece covering everything going on in the NBA, and whatever reality shows or tiger vs. shark updates, use Dreamweaver to churn out simplistic code, and have it up between 2:30 and 3:30. The “Links” part of The Links was all the news you needed for the day, and many of those stories would seem new to you, even that late in the day. Nowadays, you can get the gist of everything going on in the b-ball world in :07 seconds or less with one look at whatever feed reader or live bookmarks you turn to. Sure, we offer our own perspectives on it, which makes it different, but you pretty much know what’s going on in the world because we live in the information age where you can find out anything you want to know in very little time.

At times I have felt like if there wasn’t something new up on the site by 9 A.M., we’d be way behind. It’s a different universe! But enough about me. I know, people were all entertained by the Will Leitch public roasting. I laughed, I cringed, I was thankful it wasn’t happening to me! I went to the Brooklyn Cyclones game on Saturday with my cousin, her friend, and a friend of mine. I “overshared” something, and it led to me getting made fun of 3 on 1 for hours. Not looking to repeat that experience. I, like others who have left SLAM, will still have my blog. I will still contribute to the magazine, most notably with my “Which NBA Player Are You” column – which in my preparation for grad school, discovered that drawing connections between two seemingly disconnected worlds is actually called “transfer” and it is a higher-level brain function that is the best possible outcome of student learning. Who knew?!?

And so, thank you to everyone I’ve worked with over the past four years, I could run down a list of all of your names, but this would become the longest piece of literature I have ever written. Thank you commenters and emailers for joining the fun, and let’s see if I know the ledge.

Time to announce who will be stepping in as the new online editor, effective in a few weeks.

It is Ryne Nelson. Standing ovation…

Congratulate him.

Curtain call.

I asked Ryne to give us a little introduction with some factoids. Here he goes:

Ryne is the second best thing to come out of Naperville Central High School, other than Candice Parker. He is the author of the popular NBA video blog Odenized, which was recently awarded the Internet Reader and Blogger’s Choice Award 2008 – Best Use of Video. During the season, BallHype’s ranking placed Odenized among the Top 20 sports blogs.

Ryne makes monthly MVP and ROY selections as part of the NBA blogger award voting panelist.

On May 12, 2008 (Note from Sam: Which was my 30th birthday! Destiny), Ryne was the first to upload the viral video LeBron to Mom: “Sit yo *$*% down,” which reached 2 million views and 1,400 comments in less than 20 hours. His YouTube profile has been the #1 viewed on all of YouTube on a couple occasions.

He’s also submitted 33 front-page stories to Digg in the past three months, and is one of Twitter’s top users.

Ryne’s been a subscriber to the magazine since he was 13. Not only does he understand the trends in blogging, he’s also a kickass writer. He says SLAM inspired his high school autobiography, which won the 2003 NCTE National Achievement in Writing award.

Previously, Ryne was the Daily Illini’s NBA columnist and men’s soccer beat writer, founder and commissioner Illinois Fantasy Basketball, associate producer at Naperville Community Access Television, and a contributor to Chicago Sports Weekly.

Ryne famously challenged Illinois coach Bruce Weber’s ability to recruit top athletes, to the point Weber had to verbally scold his players for speaking to Ryne. He will start July 15ish.

Ryne chose not to give a list of his favorites, but of his moderates. His moderate food is popcorn. His moderate actor is Hayden Christensen. His moderate actress is Reese Witherspoon. His moderate music artist is Ludacris. His moderate sports idol is Bonzi Wells. His moderate animal is the penguin. His moderate sport is lacrosse. Ryne’s moderate color is black. And lastly, but certainly not least, Ryne’s moderate writing utensil is sidewalk chalk.

A strong introduction. Best of luck Ryne! Welcome him!