Michael Pina is an NBA writer whose work has been featured on FOX Sports, Sports on Earth, Grantland, Rolling Stone, ESPN, and more.
As evidenced by the photo above, he's also an extremely dapper fellow (full-length photo below... you'll be even more impressed once you see the ankle exposure).
In this interview, he shares his story on how he became an NBA writer, insights on what it's like to do what he does - and, of course, even some fashion tips.
Tell us about your background. How did you end up becoming an NBA writer?
Pina: I love few things more than the NBA, and, if memory serves me well, never enjoyed much as a student besides writing. Combining the two always made sense.
I graduated from the University of Delaware in 2009, moved back to Boston (my hometown) where I worked a few odd jobs before starting a blog called Shaky Ankles, all about NBA players and their relationship with the crossover dribble.
Writing about whatever, whenever is fun, but my super genius idea was to fill in the blanks with, say, an old clip of Allen Iverson clowning somebody. There are hundreds of NBA blogs out there and everyone has an opinion. I needed a way to stand out.
Shaky Ankles—RIP—eventually caught the eye of Rahat Huq, the founder of Red94, a Houston Rockets blog still affiliated with ESPN’s TrueHoop Network. That was a door-opening relationship that I couldn’t be more thankful for.
From there, I wrote a bunch (for free), pitched ideas around to various editors and sites (watched 95% of said ideas die), and wrote some more.
And here we are.
Breaking into sports writing is very difficult. What were the biggest challenges you faced in your career to get to where you're at now? And how did you overcome them?
Pina: My road was laid with cobblestones of luck and thousands upon thousands of hours writing similarly terrible metaphors at Starbucks.
Also, the support of my family and closest friends, who were never shy about spreading word of Shaky Ankles’ existence around. They gave it - and me - the base I needed when I wasn’t making any money. Every click mattered.
What's your one piece of "success" advice for people who are looking to become sports writers themselves?
Pina: Success has a different meaning to every other person who says or hears it.
But for the sake of argument, my advice here is bland: write and read every single day—be it in a blog, diary or wherever—and reach out to those you admire; ask them questions.
What do you like most about being an NBA writer?
Pina: Everything - except my answer to the next question.
What do you like the least about it?
Pina: Writing from home, as I do, creates an isolated lifestyle that somehow gets even more lonely during the season, when there’s nine games on at once and I feel like a big fail if I don’t watch all of them at the same time.
Of course, that’s crazy and impossible. But the feeling in the back of my head that someone out there is doing it pathologically drives me to try.
I don’t want to say I feel guilty hanging out with friends and being social, but it’s not a “normal” job that shuts down at a specific hour. There’s always more basketball to watch, more articles to read, more this, more that.
The exact opposite sensation occurs in the offseason, when there’s nothing to do. Both can get a little depressing if you think about them too often, so thanks for asking this question!
What's the most surprising thing about doing what you do?
Pina: I’ve learned that you can learn more about the NBA eavesdropping on two scouts at Las Vegas Summer League than watching 1,000 hours of live basketball.
Also, ask two intelligent league observers the same question about the same player or team, and there’s a good chance you get two separate answers. (Unless the question is who’s the best player alive, because everyone knows the answer is still Rajon Rondo.)
Switching gears to fashion. You're a pretty dapper guy yourself. What's your single best fashion & style tip?
Pina: Here’s three:
- Be comfortable in clothes that fit;
- Have a dad who’s sartorially brilliant; and
- When all else fails, look at post-prime pictures of Michael Jordan - then do the exact opposite.
And what's the one grooming tip you would pass on to other men?
Pina: Take note of what your girlfriend does before she goes to bed. Then boil that routine by 15% and do it to yourself.
Of all the NBA players, who do you think are the best dressers?
Pina: Honestly, more guys know how to dress than don’t. David Stern’s pseudo-racist dress code happened to merge with a booming men’s fashion industry, and the rest is history.
From Kobe Bryant’s monochromatic minimalism to Tim Duncan’s refusal to [care] to the world’s top designers letting Westbrook be Westbrook, no employees are collectively more stylish than NBA players.
But for the record: Dwyane Wade tries too hard.
Where can our readers find your content? And how can they connect with you online?
Step Up Your Game
Thanks to Pina for the interview! If you're an NBA fan, be on the lookout for his content, and also follow him on Twitter (he's a great follow).
Want to look dapper like Pina - but just absolutely hate going shopping?
Then you should do yourself a favor and take a look at "Doorstep Dapperness," which is a list of 37 ways to get "dapperness" regularly delivered to you.
You can also download a free copy of "Doorstep Dapperness: 37 Ways to Get Dapperness Regularly Delivered to Your Door" by clicking the image below: