LIVINGSTON, NJ - Not many young people can tell you what they want to be when they grow up—in fact it can be said that many “40somethings” are still trying to figure that out. But Livingston High School junior Eli J. Friedman not only knows that he either wants to be an NBA Analyst or a sports agent—but he is already on his way with a promising sports journalism career as the Oklahoma City Thunder Yahoo.com sports blogger, where he posts stories at least twice a week.
“The team is playing really well and if they can get by the West, they may have a shot against the Heat in the Finals,” said Friedman.
"It's really impressive for someone so young to be so aggressive, committed and determined,” said Royce Young, CBS Sports writer, Royce Young, www.dailythunder.com. “That kind of mindset goes a long way in this field, and Eli is certainly off to a tremendous start."
Friedman, who says he has always loved playing and watching basketball, began blogging in 2012 after flying to Miami to see the Thunder play. He met assistant coach Mark Bryant, the staff and team.
“I became an avid fan and began watching every single game they played,” said Friedman. “The team gave me VIP tickets to see them play the Celtics, Knicks, Nets and Miami Heat. And, I would mingle with the players and their families after the games.”
“When I first met the guys, I thought they were so nice, energetic and part of such a humble organization that it was hard not to root for them,” said Friedman, who has been asked to write on other teams, but prefers to stay true to the Thunder.
“Following the 2012 Heat game, my mom, a publicist, suggested that I start blogging on the team,” said Friedman. “First, I created a Twitter page, and developed a fan base. Next, I began writing on an independent site called Hoopstradamus, where I’d write post-game analysis, and offer my personal insights and expectations for the team. I was later asked to write on Rantsports.com and Fansided, where I wrote for the Sports Illustrated-affiliated OKC Thunder site, Thunderous Intentions. Since then, I have been asked to talk on several sports radio talk shows including ESPN Radio 1420 in Honolulu and NBA talk shows in Oklahoma City.
Editor’s Note: On Dec. 29, Friedman had to delay the start to an interview with TAP because he was on an NBA talk show.
In Nov., 2013, Friedman was asked to write about the Oklahoma City Thunder at Yahoo!Sports. His biography on the site says, “Basketball has always been my life. Currently the Oklahoma City Thunder blogger at Fansided and Yahoo! Sports. My work has been published at SI.com, ESPN.com, and Foxsports.com. Along with my NBA blogging, I handle the PR/Media for the NJ Roadrunners (a premier AAU basketball team in the country, which has produced 33 NBA players including Kyrie Irving, Al Harrington, Randy Foye, and Syracuse commit, Tyler Roberson). I live by the quote, ‘Do what you love,’ and I pursue my dream every day.”
“Kid is mature beyond his years,” said Matt Mitchell, a coach for the NJ Roadrunners.
“Eli is a great kid and I have enjoyed getting to know him over the past year,” said Brett MacConnell, Assistant Coach, Men's Basketball, Princeton University. “He has an incredible passion for his job and the game of basketball in general. He does a great job of helping his guys get exposure and connecting them to college coaches. The thing I respect most about Eli is his loyalty for the Roadrunners organization, their players and coaches. He cares deeply for each person associated with the Roadrunners family and I know he would do anything he could to help each and every one of them.”
A typical Thunder game day in the life of Friedman includes waking up at 7 a.m. and going to school until 2:45 p.m. Next, he attends varsity basketball practice until 6 p.m., which is followed by a shower, meal, and homework. Prior to the games, which are played at Central Standard Time (CST) when the team is home, Friedman says he writes a preview about the game, takes notes and provides full-game commentary on Twitter where he interacts with other OKC Thunder fans. Following the game, he writes a recap with takeaways and thoughts and sends it to his editor, Andrew Kennedy, to be published. The whole process ends at around midnight or 1 a.m. He then wakes up the next day and starts the same routine all over again.
During his downtime, Friedman enjoys working out, lifting weights, running, shooting baskets in his driveway, playing tennis with his dad or playing video games. He also likes hanging out with his friends, and spending time with family.
“Eli knows a lot about the game of basketball and is a student of the game,” said LHS student, Maanas Chiplunkar. “He is in close contact with many professionals in and around the NBA and his basketball knowledge is shown on the court through his efficient play.”
“He’s very passionate about what he does and it shows in his work,” said LHS student Robbie April.
When he isn’t blogging, exercising, mingling with the OKC Thunder team, or rubbing elbows with Jim Boeheim, Larry Brown, Bill Self, Sam Presti, Dion Waters, Reggie Jackson, or Randy Foye of the Denver Nuggets, Friedman plays point guard on the LHS Varsity Basketball Team, and during the summers he works at basketball camps and travels with a travel basketball team.
“The Lancers Basketball team upset West Orange on opening night,” opined 16-year-old professional sports journalist Friedman, who is out with an ankle sprain until Jan. 11. “We are 2-1, and have five seniors who are doing a great job with leadership. We also have three sophomores, including myself, from last year. We don’t have a lot of experience but we work hard in practice. I think we can surprise a lot of teams in Essex County this year.”
“Confucius once said, ‘Choose a job you love, and you won't have to work a day in your life,’” said Friedman. “That is the motto I live by every day.”