Interviews

Euro coach on David Pick : « He breaks stories like Westbrook gets triples-doubles »

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A basketball reporter living in Israel, american David Pick (@IAmDPick) made a specialty to break basketball news worldwide, becoming one of the greatest in his job. From the bottom to the top, he tells this time his own story.

Can you introduce yourself?
I was born in New Jersey and moved to Israel at a young age. I live in Tel Aviv. I am covering Americans outside the NBA and hoops overseas since 2010. I work full time for a television-radio-internet network in Israel called ONE.co.il. We have a television channel, 50 sports channel, and a radio show on 102FM. I used to write for Bleacher Report and Basketball Insiders. I occasionally contribute to both, and Sportando and EuroBasket, and I have my own blog with German BIG magazine.

David Pick with french soccer superstar Thierry Henry.

David Pick with french soccer superstar Thierry Henry.

When did you started to take interested in basketball?
I always played basketball at a young age. Actually people don’t really know this, but before basketball I played soccer. I used to be a goalkeeper and striker. Two of my favorite players were Thierry Henry and Fabien Barthez. So it’s kind of funny. My wife is French so half of my family is French from Paris also. It was funny because in 2015, in the Madrid Final Four I was at the hotel, and all the sudden I see, I think, it was Thierry Henry and Marcel Desailly. All the sudden, they were walking into the hotel. I am looking at them and I’m like « WOW these guys, what are they doing here? ». They don’t play in the Final Four, so I figured they went to see Real Madrid in football in the Champions League against Juventus. I saw Thierry and I introduced myself and took a picture with him. I was very excited because he was like a hero when I grew up. I just like basketball I guess better and I played against a lot of professionals. I was coached by professionals as a young kid. I knew that I just couldn’t make a living with a career as a player and I just wanted to stay close to the game. My english being an American was an advantage, understanding the game and being around players and helping them communicate and adapt to a foreign country.

When did it become a job?
I really started from the bottom. I worked my way up. It’s a mountain, I was like the rocks at the bottom that form the base, the pebbles that build the mountain top. You just can’t overlook anything, everything is a step forward in the right direction. I sent countless resumes to websites. I offered my services for free because I didn’t have any credentials. Somebody took a chance on me. I’m appreciative of that, and he gave me pass and a credential. I started to work my way up, and I guess I worked for maybe six months to a year for free. Then I quickly found myself getting a job at ONE because another guy was leaving and it opened the window of opportunity for me, and I been there since 2014. Between 2010 and 2014, I was just writing, tweeting, writing, to get my name out. Eurobasket was a big platform for me, Sportando as well.

What were your studies?
I studied international communications at the IDC in Herzliya. It’s the only college in Israel that offers a Bachelors degree in English. I had a lot of foreign students from all over the world, studying with me together, so a lot of friends of mine are all over the world. That is pretty cool. I did the course in radio and television broadcasting as well. I have those two degrees under my belt.

Your twitter account is much followed and respected in the basketball world. How did you get this huge notoriety?
I take pride in giving every basketball player a platform. A lot of people don’t really care about who goes to the second division in Italy, France, the LEB Gold in Spain, or the second division in Israel. I can’t call that a niche where I reported those transactions. It wasn’t really much of interest to people, but it keep people knowing a source of information who is going where. I think players, coaches, agents and teams appreciated that, because a lot of guys used to be in second division. For example, Devin Smith played in the second division in Spain and now he is a Euroleague for Maccabi Tel-Aviv. The list goes on. Jarvis Varnado played in the second division in Italy, then he played in Israel and then Miami Heat, he won an NBA championship. You never overlook players, and I think that helped me grow because people saw that I was giving everyone a platform. I was respectful of everybody. Marc Stein of ESPN is a great mentor of mine. He always helps me with information and we bounce things off each other. You mentioned respect, it’s a lot on honesty and credibility. If you are open with somebody, and you trust in them, they will respect you for that. And if your information is credible, that goes a long way, and people will continue to look for you as a source of informations. I had a lot of people who denied my stories but they translated into the truth. People second guess me, but then second guessed themselves, and continued to follow me. It’s like a rock, I don’t give up. I respect the fans but for every one hundred fans, one NBA GM or one Euroleague coach is equally important because the retweets doesn’t really count as to how successful you are. The amount of people your news is broadcast too, your reach, it’s a lot more important to me.

Do you cover basketball worldwide or do you have a specialization with european basketball?
I cover everything. From the NBA to Europe, South America, Oceania, China, Philippines, etc. There is no filter to news because you don’t know where your followers are coming from. Doors are always open, people can DM me. As long as they keep it professional and respectful. I don’t really have a specialty. I am just trying to provide as much informations as I can to the public to the world of the basketball consumers. That’s the most important to me.

« When I sleep, my phone is never on silent. I never want to miss a scoop ».

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David Pick with Amar’e Stoudemire in Israel.

What does one of your work days look like?
It starts very early because my son wakes me up at around 7 o’clock. Then I take him to daycare, come back, start my day, watch some first games, try to communicate with teams in advance, let them know that I am coming to the game. There are many things to look out for something relevance. A lot of hours on the phone, in front of the computer, talk with people all over the world. And throughout the day, I consume my twitter feeds. At the game, you are communicating, networking. It’s very important for the future to build your network. When I get home, it’s about what happened during the day. Being in Europe, it’s looking back on what was on the game and what can or could be done at the next game. Then I started to communicate with people overseas in the United States because the hours are different, I communicate with people and agents in South America as well. I can tweet things at 2 o’clock in the morning. You never know what happens. I tweeted about LaMarcus Aldridge going to San Antonio from Portland. I don’t remember what was the hour but it was probably 1, 2 or maybe 3 o’clock in the morning. When I sleep, my phone is never on silent. I never want to miss a scoop. Sometimes, it was on silent and I missed big stories. For example, Justin Hamilton to the Brooklyn Nets signed from Valencia. I had that scoop, who was sent to me at about 50 minutes before it was reported. My phone was on silent and I was sleeping. It was like 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. It’s frustrating but you learn, your grow. You can’t report everything. You just try to be the best you can. Days are endless, there is no hours to do this job. A lot of people think it’s flashy because you talk with players and you go to the games, but it’s a grind. It’s hard to be far from your family, you don’t go sleep with your wife every night, that rarely happens. It’s a sacrifice, like players sacrifice, media is a sacrifice too. It just depends on how much you want to commit to it, which is link to your success.

How many games are you watching every week?
It’s a good question. Maybe 15-20 games a week, because I watch a lot of international ball. I try to see as much games as possible. For the Euroleague, I have the ipad, tv, laptop and application on my phone, so I can watch 2 games in the same time. That really happens but sometimes it’s between 15 and 20 games a week. There is the NBA as well. It’s all hours all over the world, everywhere. When there is Euroleague and Eurocup in Israel as well, I can go physically to 4 or 5 games a week. Because Euroleague is Thursday, Eurocup Wednesday, and the championship in Israel is Sunday and Monday, and sometimes Tuesday. Right now I am sitting watching a game on Friday afternoon. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less, but everyday there is a game to watch somewhere in the world. I’m a student of the game.

What is the thing you’ve done in basketball you’re most proud of?
It’s probably some stories that I broke. It’s proof to myself that people believe in me and trust me to give me world breaking news, not just league changing that is specific to Israel or France, but news from all over the world. Big news like LaMarcus Aldridge is going to San Antonio and not Phoenix. That made a lot of noise. Or Nate Robinson coming to Israel. A few years ago, I had an interview with LeBron James that I was very proud of. He takes the time to speak to me for Eurobasket. Seeing how much I have grown in this industry from the first time I went to Vegas to where I am now, it’s different. For the first time, I tried to introduce myself to people. Now, when I go, my face is more recognized, my face is out there. I am very proud of that. One of the coaches in Europe told me the other day, there was a report about somebody and I can get obsessed. I was close to the story but another guy got it, so I lost it. The coach said : « you know, in terms of reporting, David Pick is like Russell Westbrook ». Like Russell gets triple doubles, I break stories. But when someone else get a triple double like Kyrie Irving or John Wall, it becomes a big story. So when another journalist get a story, people giving him more credit. When I broke a story, people are like « oh, David Pick just has another story, Russell Westbrook just had another triple double ». So that comparison I am very proud of. Russell Westbrook is my favorite player in the NBA, so that is one of the most proudest moment I achieved when people see me like him. I also never forget where I started out at, just working for free. I sent resumes, I was trying to get my name out there, and people refused to hire me. I went to interviews and I begged to people I’ll work for free. The place I work for now actually interviewed me a few times but didn’t want me. They said : « no, your are not what we are looking for, you are not good enough ». They sent me away. And a few days later, they brought me back for another interview. They weren’t really impressed « we are not looking to hire you ». And the third time they finally convince that I can bring everything, step up to the plate, I can man-hold the news overseas. That is definitely a moment that I am proud of to see where I am right now. people ask me for interviews, like hundreds of players. It’s humbling when you’re interviewing to somebody like a player, you never take it for granted.

Do you have some advices to give to young basketball junkies hooping to get a basketball job in journalism?
First of all, you have to be honest, determined and confidential. It takes years to build trust and seconds to break it instantly. You have to protect your sources at all times, never reveal them. As a young journalist you should write as much as you can, blog wherever you can, try to get informations out there. Try to get credentials to games wherever it’s from. ESPN is not going to hire you just because you look good or you have good contacts. You have to prove yourself and take baby steps. Start writing, start going to games, develop relationship with people. The sharing of information is very important. If you share information with somebody, he will share it back with you. If anybody needs help, like I said, can get in contact with me, my DM is open. I try to respond and answer everybody. You just have to love really what you do because it’s not an easy job. But if you want to be great, put you heart into it and work as hard you can.

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