Dub Nation HQ takes first place in SF Press Club Awards for journalistic excellence
Shout out to the HQ for keeping fresh journalism vibes alive!
Hey folks! In between discussing Golden State finally having a win streak again, I wanted to share that Dub Nation HQ has won first place in the San Francisco Press Club’s 46th Awards Gala in the category of Digital Media: Sports Feature. This was DNHQ’s second time winning an award at the SF Press Club, as last year we won 2nd place in the same category.
Our piece that took the crown this year was “Bay Area Mural Program blesses Oakland with Stephen Curry mural”, an interview we did with Andre Jones for the massive mural his team created on 23rd and Broadway in Uptown Oakland.
This iconic piece honors Curry breaking the all-time 3PT shooting record while paying homage to Marcus Books, the country’s oldest black owned independent book store.
For context, there were 544 submissions in this year’s SF Press Club awards show across the various journalism categories. There were some heavy national hitters involved: The Associated Press, The Athletic, BBC, Reuters, and USA Today. Locally there was representation from the Contra Costa times, San Francisco Chronicle, SF Gate, and the Oakland Tribune to name a few.
The night we received the award, my mind wandered down memory lane as to how we even got here…
Driving towards destiny
Back in 2017, I was going pure bohemian artist mode. My hair was a gnarly afro, a living protest against the Big Barber industrial complex. I was living in a music studio that I owned, driving Lyft by day to pay the bills, recording and mixing vocals from local artists by night. I had recently been plucked from the Golden State of Mind message boards to join the website as an official blogger. Who knew that ranting about how much Cleveland sucked could land me a paying gig?
And at that time, that lil monthly stipend was absolutely crucial to keeping my desperate starving artist lifestyle afloat. It was there I was sharpening my baby writing chops alongside legends like Duby Dub Dubs, Patrick Murray, Joe Viray, Thomas “Dr. Tom” Bevilacqua, and Eric Apricot under the watchful eye of the blogfather Nate P. While I’ve always had a penchant for storytelling, I can’t tell you how much Nate helped rein my style in from a frothing barbarian with an internet connection to a shrewd power slugger capable of taking any writing pitch out of the park.
One of the most fascinating parts I found being a rideshare driver is hearing questions like, “So what else do you do?” and feeling the boiling urge to chat about all the other cool things you have going on other than picking up strangers in your personal car. One day out Lyfting at the Oakland Airport, I picked up a guy named Alexis Madrigal. As he slumped into the corner of my backseat, worn out from his flight, he politely asked me that very question.
So I started rattling ‘em off: I’m a music producer, I’m a writer, I’m probably the greatest NBA 2K player ever blah blah blah.
He sat up in the backseat and locked eyes with me in the rear view mirror with a friendly curiosity. “Oh you write? Me too. Where can I find your stuff?”.
This was the first time a stranger had been this excited to find out about my blog life. When I told him I was covering the Warriors, he was thrilled. Come to find out, this guy was a huge Warriors fan living in San Francisco, and also a writer himself for The Atlantic. After ten straight minutes of legit hoop talk, I asked him for any piece of advice he could offer about making a living as a writer.
He paused, eyes drifting towards the fingerprint smeared pane of the passenger side window. “Man, stay inspired. Keep your eyes open for inspiration. Always write stuff that you would want to read; can’t go wrong there.”
We exchanged contact details and dapped up. Even if I’d probably never see him again, that made my ridesharing day.
Clicks vs Inspiration
Four years went by after that day. In that time I helped co-found the Dub Nation HQ ultrateam. Nate, Duby, and Apricot joined me to swim deep out into the Pacific to find a large series of interconnected GSW internet islands to plant our flag in. Rich aka Poor Man’s Commish of Lets Go Warriors gave a some real-life example of what being an independent hustler/content creator looked like, and we were able to forge our own path after GSOM in large part due to his support.
At the time I was working 50 hours a week at a new office job, while writing and producing videos for Dub Nation HQ and GSOM to become the first two-way blogger in GSW history.
A major legacy sports publication DM’ed me and asked to chat about me dropping my other blogs to run a Warriors-centric site for them. I said no way Jose, either the whole DNHQ team comes with me or no deal.
They rallied around to that and set up an interview with me to discuss what that would look like. They discussed with me what they were looking for: a continual daily stream of rapid SEO-juicy articles around 200 words each with some video clips for the search engines to lap up. I responded quizzically: “You know most of my stuff tends toward the longform stuff, right? I don’t really do a ton of short articles, the people I write for are all about my goldblooded rants”.
I’ll never forget the head honcho looking me dead in my eyes and retorting, “Yeah you write some artsy stuff for ‘your people’, but in the same time it takes you to write 1,000 words I’ve already produced five articles and made more money than you”.
At that point, we both knew we weren’t going to be a good fit for each other. I stuck to my guns with DNHQ while they got someone else to turn into a content mule for their site.
Funny enough, that kind of content is absolutely what artificial intelligence bots are super great at churning out. Did y’all hear the recent news about the legendary Sports Illustrated getting caught allegedly using AI to post articles while pretending humans were doing it?
What part of the game is that?!? Is it SOOOO important to create content that we just divorce the human element from it to make sure somebody gets on the site? Apparently so for others.
I’ve never wanted to create any art that could be duplicated so soullessly. I’d damn near rather make nothing at all than to throw up bucket after bucket of uninspired slop. BUT THAT’S JUST ME.
Fast forward to last week, where I’m at the SF Press Club awards for the second straight year. I was out there rubbing elbows with some cool folks in the journalism field, knocking back Manhattans and waiting to grab ceremonial award plaques.
As I scanned the different tables looking for DNHQ’s name, my eyes caught two familiar words on an award: Alexis Madrigal! Sure enough, a few minutes later he sauntered by and we reconnected. The crazy thing is, he actually remembered me from that Lyft ride all those years ago! I shared my gratitude for his inspirational words, and he reciprocated with gleeful appreciation that I succeeded in becoming a craftsman of the written word.
Those are the kind of moments that really make me appreciate how Warriors basketball has provided a medium for me to explore both artistic and personal development on the global stage. I love that we’ve created a space together that respects and supports the type of expression that is literally being shunned by the companies that would prefer an infinite loop of dry shortform pieces in the thirst for clicks. DNHQ is living proof that people will support true creativity, AI bots be damned.
I love that the Dubs and their fanbase have created a fulcrum of social exploration for us here at DNHQ to share in this human experience. I appreciate every single person that ever blessed me and the DNHQ Boyz with their time and attention. Next year, let’s go for the SF Press Club threepeat!