Hoop dreams: one Novocollegian's love of the game

photo courtesy of Evan Dunlap

Despite having an undefeated football team, Novocollegians are notoriously apathetic when it comes to following professional or collegiate sports. But thesis student Evan Dunlap bucks the trend.

A die-hard basketball fan, Dunlap manages and writes for a well-respected online blog about the Orlando Magic, the Central Florida city’s professional basketball franchise. Just how good is his work? For one, his site receives around xxxx hits per day.

Oh — and his work has been mentioned in The New York Times.

Dunlap started following basketball from an early age, noting that it was something that he would watch with his parents. Growing up in Maitland, Fla., a suburb of Orlando, the games of choice involved the hometown team.

“They [the Magic] got really good really fast,” he explained. “They got the team in 1989 — I was born in 1988 — and they started making deep playoff runs with Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway when I was like four or five years old. I didn’t know what it was, but it was exciting and my parents would watch it together. As I sort of advanced in elementary school, that’s when the Penny Hardaway posters started going up on the walls. My dad and I would go to a few games […] and then I started writing fan-fiction-type things creatively, which is really embarrassing.”

Despite his interest oscillating through high school — “That was sort of my horrible person phase that I think a lot of people go through in high school where they have new interests and listen to different music and say no to their parents,” he said, his fandom having been rekindled during his first years at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla.

“The Magic weren’t an especially good team but that was an interesting time in the NBA,” Dunlap explained. “I’m home during winter break and this stuff’s on TV and I’m like, ‘This is pretty interesting.’ The Magic had this guy named Dwight Howard who was pretty good — he was just lowercase d Dwight Howard at that point. So we went to a few games during that break and I liked it. I wanted to learn more. Outside of class and doing my homework, I need things to do, so I started reading about basketball on the Internet.

“I didn’t know that blogging would become so huge,” he noted. “I didn’t see it as a career opportunity. I guess I just started it as a hobby. I had always been interested in writing — even the freakin’ fan-fiction in elementary school indicates that — but I always sort of saw myself as a writer. It was combination of factors: my renewed interest in the NBA, my lifelong curiosity about writing and the opportunity — because it’s the Internet, anyone with a keyboard can say anything they want, pretty much. All those things come together and here we are, three or four years later.”

Dunlap launched his blog on Blogspot in 2007 and was quickly approached by SB Nation, a network of sports blogs, to move his site to their platform. He agreed — and draws a small paycheck from the site for his work.

“When I started with SB Nation, they had coverage of all of the baseball teams, almost all of the football teams and several of the college teams but they didn’t have a complete NBA thing,” he said. “They had half the league covered [in 2007] and I would be their Magic blog. It’s worked out well.”

As for his date with the Gray Lady, Dunlap still isn’t quite sure how it happened.

“You know, it is just very bizarre to me,” he said. “About two weeks ago, the Magic waived their point guard Jason Williams and I noted that when [the story] popped up on their official Facebook page — that story from the official website saying the Magic had waived him — I noticed that in, like, four minutes 60 people ‘liked’ it. That’s like saying ‘Magic announce player has lost his job’ — yeah! On my Twitter account, I posted this observation — the official announcement of waiving Jason Williams has x likes in y minutes. It’s one of the hundreds of inane observations I make on Twitter once a week. But The New York Times picked it up. I don’t know how!”

Dunlap’s statement was used as “a jumping-off point” (as he put it) in a sidebar in the sports section of the Jan. 30 Times that explored the concept what it really means for fans to “like” stories that are presented via various social media and networking platforms.

At the moment, Dunlap is unsure of his post-New College plans, but he hopes to keep writing about basketball for as long as possible.

“I’m just hoping that someone I know will have some sort of paying position open,” he said. “You know, I’d love to stay around here and cover the Magic but if somebody in Minnesota needs me to come up and cover the Timberwolves, I’d come up there and do it. It’s very clear to me that writing about basketball is what’s going to get me through life because I feel good doing it. It’s not going to be farming or studying English literature or anything like that, so I have to find that opportunity and I hope it comes along. I feel like if I’m not writing about hoops, my life is going to be waiting for the next chance to write about hoops.”

Dunlap’s blog is online at www.orlandopinstripedpost.com. His Twitter username is @BQRMagic.

Despite having an undefeated football team, Novocollegians are notoriously apathetic when it comes to following professional or collegiate sports. But thesis student Evan Dunlap bucks the trend.

A die-hard basketball fan, Dunlap manages and writes for a well-respected online blog about the Orlando Magic, the Central Florida city’s professional basketball franchise. Just how good is his work? For one, his site receives around xxxx hits per day.

Oh — and his work has been mentioned in The New York Times.

Dunlap started following basketball from an early age, noting that it was something that he would watch with his parents. Growing up in Maitland, Fla., a suburb of Orlando, the games of choice involved the hometown team.

“They [the Magic] got really good really fast,” he explained. “They got the team in 1989 — I was born in 1988 — and they started making deep playoff runs with Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway when I was like four or five years old. I didn’t know what it was, but it was exciting and my parents would watch it together. As I sort of advanced in elementary school, that’s when the Penny Hardaway posters started going up on the walls. My dad and I would go to a few games […] and then I started writing fan-fiction-type things creatively, which is really embarrassing.”

Despite his interest oscillating through high school — “That was sort of my horrible person phase that I think a lot of people go through in high school where they have new interests and listen to different music and say no to their parents,” he said, his fandom having been rekindled during his first years at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla.

“The Magic weren’t an especially good team but that was an interesting time in the NBA,” Dunlap explained. “I’m home during winter break and this stuff’s on TV and I’m like, ‘This is pretty interesting.’ The Magic had this guy named Dwight Howard who was pretty good — he was just lowercase d Dwight Howard at that point. So we went to a few games during that break and I liked it. I wanted to learn more. Outside of class and doing my homework, I need things to do, so I started reading about basketball on the Internet.

“I didn’t know that blogging would become so huge,” he noted. “I didn’t see it as a career opportunity. I guess I just started it as a hobby. I had always been interested in writing — even the freakin’ fan-fiction in elementary school indicates that — but I always sort of saw myself as a writer. It was combination of factors: my renewed interest in the NBA, my lifelong curiosity about writing and the opportunity — because it’s the Internet, anyone with a keyboard can say anything they want, pretty much. All those things come together and here we are, three or four years later.”

Dunlap launched his blog on Blogspot in 2007 and was quickly approached by SB Nation, a network of sports blogs, to move his site to their platform. He agreed — and draws a small paycheck from the site for his work.

“When I started with SB Nation, they had coverage of all of the baseball teams, almost all of the football teams and several of the college teams but they didn’t have a complete NBA thing,” he said. “They had half the league covered [in 2007] and I would be their Magic blog. It’s worked out well.”

As for his date with the Gray Lady, Dunlap still isn’t quite sure how it happened.

“You know, it is just very bizarre to me,” he said. “About two weeks ago, the Magic waived their point guard Jason Williams and I noted that when [the story] popped up on their official Facebook page — that story from the official website saying the Magic had waived him — I noticed that in, like, four minutes 60 people ‘liked’ it. That’s like saying ‘Magic announce player has lost his job’ — yeah! On my Twitter account, I posted this observation — the official announcement of waiving Jason Williams has x likes in y minutes. It’s one of the hundreds of inane observations I make on Twitter once a week. But The New York Times picked it up. I don’t know how!”

Dunlap’s statement was used as “a jumping-off point” (as he put it) in a sidebar in the sports section of the Jan. 30 Times that explored the concept what it really means for fans to “like” stories that are presented via various social media and networking platforms.

At the moment, Dunlap is unsure of his post-New College plans, but he hopes to keep writing about basketball for as long as possible.

“I’m just hoping that someone I know will have some sort of paying position open,” he said. “You know, I’d love to stay around here and cover the Magic but if somebody in Minnesota needs me to come up and cover the Timberwolves, I’d come up there and do it. It’s very clear to me that writing about basketball is what’s going to get me through life because I feel good doing it. It’s not going to be farming or studying English literature or anything like that, so I have to find that opportunity and I hope it comes along. I feel like if I’m not writing about hoops, my life is going to be waiting for the next chance to write about hoops.”

Dunlap’s blog is online at www.orlandopinstripedpost.com. His Twitter username is @BQRMagic.

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