This feature was published by Talkbasket.net in December 2019.
Ambitious website Dave’s Joint delivers quality coverage of basketball in New York City and beyond
By Ed Odeven
Dave’s Joint is a basketball website dedicated to coverage of middle school, high school, streetball, college and pro basketball, especially in and around New York City.
Thus, there are endless opportunities for the site’s founder and editor-in-chief, David Cordova, to chase stories and conduct interviews at arenas and gyms, big and small.
For Cordova, the website is a labor of love. And it’s not only about the printed word. David is passionate about photography and capturing images of games and the faces of basketball personalities. He posts frequently on Twitter and Instagram and celebrates the achievements of local teams, players and coaches. He also has an appreciation for the history of the game, and sometimes posts old newspaper clippings, giving followers a chance to brush up on, say an all-NYC tournament team from 1994.
Dave’s Joint was established in 2015. The website showcases articles on up-and-coming NYC area high school players, men’s and women’s college teams and prominent names. Recently posted on the site are articles about Jalen Rose, Dan Hurley and Penny Hardaway.
What’s more, Cordova produced an ambitious 16-part summer reporting series, “This is New York.” Here is part 16: The Magical Summer of R.J. Davis, which offers a thorough account of Davis’ high school accomplishments, summer ball tournaments, including the Nike Peach Jam and NBPA Top 100 Camp, future aspirations and college recruiting news.
Interesting details were included about the NBPA Top 100 Camp. “I felt amazing,” said Davis, citing the fact he was playing in front of the scouts, “They say the NBPA Top 100 is considered to be one of the best camps, you know, just to play in front of NBA scouts, and I did well there, pick & roll, finding guys, it was amazing. I’ll probably say that was one of my best camps I’ve performed at.”
Q&A with Dave’s Joint founder
I recently caught up with David Cordova via email to learn more about his passion for basketball, his website and creating something that contributes to the overall landscape of hoop media in the Big Apple.
What prompted you to begin your website? Did you see an opportunity to carve out your own niche in the crowded Big Apple media landscape?
I started Dave’s Joint back in 2015 because I always had a passion for basketball, and also for writing. Ever since I was young, I always loved sports and I wanted to one day be involved in a major way.
And as far as carving out my niche, I feel as if I have made my brand very accessible to the people throughout the last four years. At the present time, print media is dying out and there’s really no coverage of high school sports, due to the fact that there are seven Division I colleges, and about a dozen professional teams (Knicks and Nets in basketball, Mets and Yankees in baseball, Giants and Jets in football, etc). So the opportunity to cover high school sports is there. And also, the general public is very receptive to what I’m providing for them because I am able to relate to them.
What is the mission of Dave’s Joint as a media outlet? And how would you describe the focal points of news coverage?
The mission of Dave’s Joint is about providing quality content for the people about basketball in New York City and basketball in other areas. It’s all about telling stories about the basketball culture. In describing the focal points of news coverage, it’s just to make the people feel comfortable when they’re telling you their story, but to also portray them in a way that they would want to be portrayed, because after all, it is their story.
What are short-term and long-term goals for the website?
My short-term goals for the site is to continue to provide good content, but also to expand into basketball photography. I have been taking pictures for the last 11 months with my Canon camera, which was given to me as a present by my mentor, Cleon “Silk” Hyde. Ever since then, I have been taking pictures of games every chance I get. Ever since I have had my camera, numbers for my site has quadrupled, and more people are looking at my stuff than ever before. As far as long-term goals, I want it to be in the same conversation as some bigger publications. I want this site to cater to certain demographics, like the dads that love sports, the old guys that love to check out the young generation, the street guys that love to see the games, the AAU coaches, the college coaches, the high school coaches, the tournament directors, etc.
In a so-called normal week can you highlight how much time you devote to reporting, interviewing, gathering material for articles, etc. for the website? And which types of stories do you generally prioritize?
At the present time, with my work schedule as an advocate counselor at Brooklyn Democracy Academy in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and then after work with going to games, it’s tough to get to writing. I try to devote at least three or four days to putting out new content for my readers.
Is it a one-man operation? Or do you have a few others working alongside you, too?
Yes, this is a one-man operation. I like to have things done a certain way and it’s hard to trust others to do things for my brand, so for the present time, I’d much rather handle things on my own.
As you consume basketball news and peruse websites, magazines, newspapers and social media, are there a few local, regional and national media outlets that you look at as models for how you operate Dave’s Joint? Can you cite a few examples?
As someone that reads a lot of articles, there are certain publications that I try to model after, such as SLAM, the now-defunct Bounce Magazine, the New York Times, Bleacher Report and The Athletic. And I also look at old articles from the old days from the New York Daily News and Newsday. I like to think of my work as educated sportswriting, but something that I can use to appeal to the those in the inner-city or the ‘hood, as we like to call them.
To me, it’s interesting to look back at many of the photos you post of old newspaper clippings on Twitter. From interactions with readers and followers, is it clear that a few of these articles are clearly favorites? On a related point, do you see this as an opportunity to be a curator of hoop history?
Honestly, when it comes to posting the old pictures, I don’t really have any favorites, but I just like to look at some old clips of players that were big names in college or in high school. For example, Chris Webber, Felipe Lopez, Stephon Marbury, Chris Mullin, etc. I’ll find some stuff of them from high school or college or in their earliest years in the NBA. And yes, I want to definitely contribute to the NYC hoops culture and just the culture of hoops, period, as best as I can. I want Dave’s Joint to be a movement even outside of New York. A lot of people outside of the city, even in different states, know about my brand.
There’s no shortage of compelling human interest stories in and around New York City to potentially pursue about former and current basketball players. That said, what are a few favorites stories that immediately come to mind for their intrigue, drama, powerful narrative, etc. when you take stock of your reporting archive? Can you cite a few examples and offer a bit of background on why you consider them among your favorites?
As far as my favorite stories, I have over 400 articles that I’ve written, so there’s so many that I can relate to. But at the same time, there is one that will stand out to me. There is an article that I wrote about this player named Jawaun Daniels from Harlem. He is a kid from Harlem that is currently playing Division I basketball at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. His story is unique because he played high school ball at Teaneck High School in Teaneck, New Jersey.
The summer before his senior year of high school, he wound up being arrested along with around 20 other people for a bunch of charges. And then for about two months, he was in one of the most notorious prisons in the country, Rikers Island. And then the sad part about that ordeal is that one of the days in there was his 18th birthday. He told me that he was on lockdown on his birthday, which means that he had to stay in his cell throughout the entire day. As far as the charges, the judge spared him, and gave him another chance. But unfortunately, he could not play basketball during his senior year of high school.
It is something similar to what Allen Iverson endured when he was in high school. After that, he graduated high school, and then he went to two years of community college at two different schools and then graduated from Odessa College with his associate’s degree and is now going for his bachelor’s and playing out the remaining two years of his eligibility. But in between the time before college, in the summer of 2017, he played in the first summer of Nike’s NY vs. NY tournament and won the Player of the Summer award. Kids like him are success stories and I feel like if given a chance, these kids will be able to rise from their shortcomings and become better people.
Since I published his story, I’ve received about 6,000 views and I’ve had many people tell me that they liked the article. Even college coaches. So that’s basically the one article that will always stand out to me.