About Brent Weber

Storyteller, artist, photographer, journalist, sportscaster, actor, writer, father, seeker, budding real estate professional and video production professional. For more info, visit http://www.weber-creative.com or find me on facebook.

Checking in on the Thunder in Atlanta

In the years I covered the Oklahoma City Thunder both as a member  of the broadcast team and the media in general in OKC, I developed an admiration for the way the organization handled basketball business. Quite simply, I saw Sam Presti and company focus on character, teamwork, passion for the energy required to play the game and organizational control.

Character is self-evident, but the straight poop is this: OKC is a small market without big market funds to waste and, I think in the long haul, with a conservative fan base that will not accept players who don’t have strong team character. If a player wants bright lights, big city, they won’t be happy in OKC. The money, well, that’s good anywhere in the NBA.I’m not saying they won’t accept “weird” dudes; they loved some young players who had problems in the Hornets era. But this organization just sees no reason to plug holes with leaky corks.

Teamwork and teaching are two reasons why Scott Brooks has been an NBA success. I hope he will remain in OKC for the length of his career because of it. Like Gregg Popovich  in San Antonio (yes, the Thunder basketball organization is built on the same ideas as San Antonio), if the superstar cornerstone stays (K-D), Brooks’ defensive (“two more stops!”) and flowing, adaptive offensive strategies will locate to conference titles and more. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are their Tim Duncan and David Robinson (let’s not argue the position differences here): two extraordinary superstars who individually require immense attention from other teams over a seven game series. And the teaching part requires players with what some call Basketball IQ (I just call it, smarts); great players always want to learn more, and Brooks and his staff are always looking to improve as coaches. It works if your star players work at it. So far, so good.

This also plays to passion for the energy required to sustain success. You must have certain players. This is why Brooks  had a relatively long career as a role player in the NBA. He was a gym rat, and he likes players like him. Great talent abounds on every bench (and on the waiver wire) across the N-B-A. Extraordinary results, however, come from a willingness to trust and bust it, to attack rebounds five deep when needed, to close down perimeters when the switch is made, even if it’s not your strength. To shoot when the shot is yours, to drive when the lane beckons, to dive when the ball is rolling. Win championships? The formula applies. Not all great talents will do the things above. That’s the difference between talent and results.

Organizational control, well, there are many or franchises that exhibit that – and I never had a problem with it. That’s an idea for another day, but it’s one that creates an avenue of consistency within and clarity of goals as presented publicly. Personally, I wish fans would just enjoy the games more and tweet and blog less. One team loses every game, and those losses are not always failures.

The Hawks are building a team with similar ideals, minus a Durant or Westbrook, and it’s fun to watch. The Thunder came to Atlanta playing well, but in the midst of a challenging stretch of their own. This time around, OKC couldn’t sustain the energy needed for four quarters to beat the hottest Hawks team Atlanta has ever fielded. They beat OKC by 10 for their franchise record 15th straight win, 103-93, and they did it buoyed by their crowd and their style of play. Right from the Thunder playbook. I enjoy this type of basketball, and frankly, I hope to see these teams play again – best of seven – at the end of the campaign. Good health, and sticking to their formulas just may make that possible.

Here is the post-game wrap I filed with my buddies at InsideThunder.com in OKC.

 

My life since MLK died

Originally posted on Postcards from The Web:

I remember my mother crying. I remember her sadness. It was unlike anything I had ever sensed before. She was in disbelief. She was frightened. She was shaken.

When you are six years old, you remember the first time your rock is shaken. That’s my first recollection of my rock, my mom, being shaken. I know now she loved who Martin Luther King Jr. was. I know now that she believed the things he believed in. I know now, she was a woman from the North, raising four kids (along with my hard-working dad) in the South at a time when many old, opposing values still existed. She was an outsider in terms of social thought. She wasn’t like many of the old white southerners in Tucker, Georgia who lived in the town we moved to a few years earlier.

Now, I can look at the history of the day…

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Auburn drops SEC women’s home opener to Florida 63-50

Just two days after a strong challenge against league favorite South Carolina on the road, Auburn’s women’s basketball team couldn’t sustain the same effort against visiting Florida, as second half shooting proved the difference in the Tigers (9-6, 0-2 SEC)  63-50 loss to the Gators (9-6, 1-1 SEC)  at Auburn Arena Sunday.

After the teams went to halftime tied at 29-29, the Gators hit 13-of-22 shots (59.1%) in the second half while Auburn made just 9-of-32 (28.1%) from the field.

Auburn’s aggressive defense caused 27 turnovers, but the home team had trouble taking care of the basketball as well, turning it over 20 times in their first home loss this season.

The Tigers were led by junior center Tra’Cee Tanner’s third double-double of the season (12 points, 10 rebounds), while Florida boasted five players in double figures, led by Brooke Copeland, who came off the bench to hit 4 3-pointers en route to a 12 point effort.

Auburn returns to the road for the sixth time in seven games when they visit 11th ranked Kentucky Thursday night. For more info on the Tigers schedule, visit auburn tigers.com.

Tra'cee Tanner fights for 2 of her 12 points in  Auburn's 63-50 loss to Florida at Auburn Arena, Sunday, January 4, 2014.  Photo by Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics

Tra’cee Tanner fights for 2 of her 12 points in
Auburn’s 63-50 loss to Florida at Auburn Arena, Sunday, January 4, 2014.
Photo by Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics

Rose Bowl moments: no matter the sport, memories of magic

Brent Weber CNN/SI Rose Bowl Stand-upAs I work on a reboot of the book The Sports Guy: Scorecard Scribblings From An Ordinary Journalist, it’s been fun to look back at some of the moments I’ve been able to witness and chronicle in my career. While working on the West Coast for a decade and a half, starting with a great stint as a reporter for CNN Sports and including fun runs at Orange County Newschannel and Fox Sports West, I had some amazing stories to cover. There was the World Cup soccer final, won by Brazil, and the work leading up to the championship. Later, I was on the field when Brandi Chastain did her P-K magic as the US women topped China in the World Cup in 1999. There were “everyday” games and stories that were not as memorable. Part of that is the crowded nature of my old noggin.

And then there were the college football Rose Bowls we were able to cover. Some times, when you are a field reporter for a large organization, you do the leg work, pre-game interviews, etc., but you don’t actually get to cover the game itself. Certainly that was the case a few times with CNN, but who could complain? One season I didn’t get to cover the game, for example, but I did get to cover the media event at the Playboy Mansion. Tough assignment.

There were two great games, in particular, I recall. Penn State played for a “mythical national championship” to close out a perfect 1994 season on New Year’s Day 1995 with a 38-20 win over Oregon in front of more than 102,000. They didn’t top the polls that year, but those were the days before the BCS and the playoffs.

A couple of years later I had the chance to watch one of the most enjoyable games I’ve seen – as Arizona State and Ohio State battled down to the wire to close out the 1996 season. The Buckeyes spoiled ASU’s run at a perfect season, winning on a last minute TD 20-17.

Here are some of these stories, including the pre-game materials and some post. I don’t have all that coverage in my personal archives, and since this all pre-dated the explosion of the Internet, well… Yes, I am old.

Glad to see in 2015 the beauty and majesty of the Rose Bowl game hasn’t been diminished by this year’s Oregon-FSU inaugural NCAA DI semi-final. The magic was already alive in the roses.

 

 

Brent Weber NBA play-by-play reel

I recently needed to provide some more current basketball play-by-play material for consideration, so I sent them the demos I did while working for the NBA’s OKC Thunder a few summers ago.  As you may know, I had the honor and privilege of working as full-time TV sideline reporter for the NBA team after they moved from Seattle. Following that first season, Thunder brass was cool enough to set me up at the NBA Summer League Presented by EA Sports in Las Vegas to put together some radio material for my archives. If you’re interested, you can click on the photo below or check the stuff out here. There are many more sports clips of mine on youtube.com/actionfigurestv

Brent Weber interviews Kevin Durant after a Thunder victory in 2009.It’s kind of fun, actually, to think it was just a few years ago that James Harden was a rookie, trying to fit in with the franchise. And how about Serge Ibaka? Wild, at times out of control, and in the summer games, he definitely used all the fouls they would give him. (Fouls are unlimited in those games.) They turned out to be pretty good players, didn’t they?

What of most of those other guys? It is so tough to make it in The Association, whether you are a broadcaster or a player.

 

 

 

 

Auburn volleyball a good show against Florida, SEC’s best

Auburn Florida Volleyball

NCAA volleyball – the indoor variety – has changed since I first began covering. In those days, Misty May and Long Beach State were the dominant program in volleyball crazed SoCal. Games were called games, sets were only things done by a player to setup a kill, and only the team serving could score. Twenty of the first 24 NCAA women’s champs crowned hailed from California.

But things changed in the last decade. Well, thanks in part to the ascension of the beach game, and perhaps even more significantly because of the availability of matches on the internet and television, women’s indoor volleyball has become a signature sport for many schools. Now, a game is actually called a set, a set is still a set (go figure), you don’t have to serve to score. Only UCLA has represented the “beach” tradition, winning in 2011.

Last year, Penn State, Wisconsin, Texas and Washington played in the Final Four, with the Nittany Lions claiming the title. This season, Florida (10), Kentucky (14) and Texas A&M (22) are all in the NCAA rankings as of this week. 

I had the chance to see Florida up close in their SEC opener at Auburn, and the Gators didn’t disappoint, sweeping the Tigers before the War Eagle chant got good and revved up, in straight games, er, sets: 3-0 (14-25, 19-25, 19-25) in front of 1,183 fans at Auburn Arena. The Tigers looked every bit a young contender in the SEC, rallying point after point in the first set, but with little to show for it. That’s what happens when you play a bigger, deeper, more experienced program. The scoring doesn’t always show the effort, but the score did indicate the Tigers, with one of the youngest rosters in the SEC (no seniors, only two juniors), are up for a fight. In the video below, shot as part of a teaching assignment for sports journalism students at Auburn, you will see a long first set point, won by Florida. That’s how well you can play and still get swept while building a program. I look forward to seeing this team play in the future.

It was a fun match to watch, and I believe Auburn is headed in the right direction. With more size up front and experience, they may be able to finish off a team at this level soon, if not this season next. And for now, their players and fans know what they are up against after opening the SEC against the Gator.

The Tigers play at Texas A&M next. You can read the game story and learn more about them via Auburn’s official website. This blog is not affiliated formally with Auburn University.