Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
If Jason McIntyre had been given a pro beat at The Bergen Record or gotten a job at ESPN The Magazine,The Big Lead would likely never have been born.
Instead, McIntyre went on to create the popular independent blog that was purchased by Chris Russo, chief executive of Fantasy Sports Ventures, for “a figure in the low seven figures,” The New York Times reported Tuesday on its Website.
“If The Record had moved me [from covering high schools] to stuff that I cared about, I probably would not have left or gone the blog route,” McIntyre, with whom I worked at the Herald News and Bergen Record for several years, said Wednesday in a phone interview.
“If I had gotten the job at ESPN The Magazine — they were looking for an editor — the blog probably wouldn’t have happened. Things just happened.”
McIntyre covered boys high school basketball and other prep sports at The Record in the late 1990s when he said he approached the editors there about doing something similar to ESPN.com’s Page 2.
“I had an idea,” said McIntyre, who now lives in Bucks County, Pa. “This was the late ’90s and early 2000s. I thought we could’ve done a cool Page 2 which ESPN was doing, a mash-up of sports and culture and humor. I had the thought of doing that and I pitched it to The Record. They kind of weren’t feeling it.
“They weren’t interested and then I started to tinker with blogging.”
In the pre-blogging era (I started ZAGSBLOG.com at the Herald News in the summer of 2006 after McIntyre had left the paper), McIntyre launched JasonMcInytre.com and began to experiment with putting news and stories up on the site.
McIntyre launched The Big Lead in February 2006 while he was an editor at US Weekly.
He wrote the site anonymously until Sports Illustrated revealed his identity in 2008. SI later named the blog one of the five most influential sports blogs of the decade.
In the spring of 2006, McIntyre interviewed at ESPN The Magazine. He was interested in a writing job, but said the magazine wanted an editor.
Now The Big Lead generates three million monthly pageviews.
“You can’t out-ESPN ESPN, but you can take a different approach,” Russo told The Times. “Jason covers general sports and celebrity with an in-depth focus on sports media. Through good journalism and good luck, The Big Lead has succeeded.”
The Big Lead isn’t the first blog to sell for big bucks. He pointed to TrueHoop and Pro Football Talk as sites that were bought up by mainstream media entities, ESPN and NBC, respectively.
“Certainly I’m not the fist blogger to have this happen to me,” he said. “TrueHoop started like The Big Lead. It was a no-frills NBA blog and ESPN scooped it up a few years back.
“Mike Florio started Pro Football Talk and it got picked up my NBC Sports. It can happen to anybody. It’s going to take a lot of time and energy. You’ve got to put in your time.”
McIntyre, who spends 14-15 hours a day in front of the computer, plans to continue to write The Big Lead and says fans should look for the site to expand and possibly add writers down the line.
“Basically, everything will stay the same,” he said. “We’re keeping the writers, keeping the theme, sports, athletes off the field, sports media. We will continue posting from 8 a.m. to 6ish. We will probably be doing some hiring later in the year.
“Nothing’s really going to change. There will be a few more eyeballs on the site. Now that I don’t own it, there’s some money behind it and they can invest into a redesign, upgrade the mobile capabilities of the site, some neat stuff like that.”
And what about McIntyre’s own life? Will that change a whole lot now that he’s sold the site for seven figures?
“Personally, I don’t see my life changing,” he said. “I doubt it.”
(Photo courtesy Jason McIntyre)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.