Kam and I met with Elie Seckbach and conducted an exclusive interview for TLN. Members submitted their questions, and we asked him. It was a very candid interview, and the stories he has for our blog are definitely worth reading.
We spoke about his career, NBA Players, Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, the TLN Bumper Stickers, and a whole lot more.
Here’s part 2 of the 3 part interview…
TLN: You are considered to have an uncanny ability to pull unique interviews, how do you do it?
Elie: The players aren’t stupid, they’re very intelligent. People don’t give athletes enough credit. They think just because you play basketball you’re not smart, but these NBA players are very intelligent. Like Lawrence Funderburke who went to Ohio State, he now works for a very large financial firm running accounts for millionaires. The players are very smart, so don’t try to fool them by being fake. If you’re honest with the players, they’ll be honest with you. Part of its just being honest, being yourself and just being me – that’s my style. If you don’t ask, you’ll never get.
TLN: Who do you look up to as a journalist?
Elie: Drew Griffin (CNN), Mike Boguslawski, I don’t know if you remember him from channel 2. Consumer reports, used to flip tables. I worked with him for two years, learned from things from him than with anyone. I guess people listen if you’re rough and tough, but nobody does that these days because it’s not worth it for stations to do consumer advocacies. Stations would rather not do that. But ‘Bogey’ was definitely one of my idols. He was natural, he was funny, and he helped people.
TLN: Do you have any advice for young sports journalists and bloggers?
Elie: Of course. Blog as much as you can, try different things, get an internship if you’re in college. Call in different radio stations, TV stations… just get an internship; it shouldn’t be that difficult because it’s free. Get a foot in the door, get aggressive, come early, stay late, and take the initiative. That’s where it starts. Even if it doesn’t work once and you had a bad experience at one place, try again. And the advantage today – when you create a blog, you’re your own news outlet. You have power. You don’t know how many people watch what you’re saying. If you start a blog and it’s good, people will come. Once you have established yourself, send links to your blog to different news outlets. Start like that and just go for it.
TLN: So what are your thoughts on our Lakers Nation blog?
Elie: I think it’s great, I think it’s a great concept. I think you guys are onto something, you’re one of the first to do this, and I don’t understand how come nobody else thought of this first… how come I didn’t think about it first. Because the Lakers are the hottest team in the world, the NBA will tell you that. I’ve been all over the world Israel, Germany, England – people love the Lakers. It’s a worldwide thing and everywhere the Lakers play, you’ll see Lakers fans. So what you’re onto with The Lakers Nation is something huge. You’re the only ones right now, there are a few people out there trying to do the same thing, but when you’re first you establish yourself. People can come and talk, and they won’t be afraid that you’ll censor them. People can come and say stuff, where on other sites it has to be PG. It’s a great concept, people love basketball, people love the Lakers, and they have a home.
TLN: How deep do you see the Lakers going to season?
Elie: Championship. I really think so.
TLN: So what is your opinion on the NBA this season and the Western Conference?
Elie: One of the best seasons in ten years. In past year the Lakers would have a great year and everyone would go “Wow, look at the Lakers!” San Antonio years were boring, and the ratings were down. But just from watching so many games, there have been a lot of exciting games. Look at the Celtics from where they were last year to where they are now. The Lakers last year until now. Look at Andrew Bynum, nobody expected him to blow up like that. If you were to tell me in the summer that Pau would be a Lakers I would have told you that you were crazy. Things happen and that’s what makes it exciting. Look at Jason Kidd going back to Dallas, that was a funny one that nobody saw come. Shaq to Phoenix that totally shocked me.
TLN: What do you think of Popovic still using the Hack-A-Shaq?
Elie: Look, the guy never played, he only coached. Six years ago, seven years ago, he was coaching right here in southern California in Pomona, division three. He called a buddy of mine, told him to play for him, five years later my buddy goes “That was Popovic!”
What do I think of him? Look, the guy came from nowhere and look where he is; you got to give him props. You use the weapons you have. If you could Hack-A-Shaq and you know he has a tough time at the free throw line than do it. I mean Shaq, come on… 35 years in the NBA, hit a free throw.
TLN: Do you know if Kobe calls Phil Jackson, Phil, Coach, or what other name?
Elie: I would think Coach. I don’t know this for a fact, but just by knowing Kobe’s personality, he’s very respectful to everyone. He’s not going to be like “Hey, what’s up Phil?” I just don’t think that’s respectful.
TLN: Andrew Wester from our site asks – I am majoring in broadcasting/journalism and will be finishing up school at Cal State LA and was just wondering what were some rules or guidelines to follow when interviewing players. I want to make sure if and when I interview players that they know I respect them and their time.
Elie: First of all Andrew, get in internship right now before you graduate. You’re going to start approaching people and they’re going to say you can only get school credit for it. If you’re out of school you’re going to have to go back. It’s easier while you’re still in the system to get an internship. When you ask a player – be respectful. Ask if you can talk to them for a minute, they’ll either say yes, or they’ll say no. And don’t be afraid to ask anything, there’s no right or wrong. But don’t be unseen, and don’t say anything about their mothers if you don’t know them well enough. Be respectful, and if you’re a professional they’ll see right through it.
TLN: Who should have been MVP this year?
Elie: Kobe. I’ve asked 300 of the 350 NBA players, and 298 of them said Kobe. Two said Chris Paul and a few said maybe LeBron after Kobe. You have to go with Kobe, look at what he did with the team, and look at way he’s playing. The guys playing with eight fingers, scoring 49 points in a Playoff game, nobody even remembers that he’s injured. You have to give him MVP this year.