Six years after being anonymous, Hoopshype.com’s architects have finally come out. They are three men aged 29 who work from their Spanish apartments. They have been to two NBA games together, though they also watch TV. One of them doesn’t even like the sport.
The story of three Spaniards becoming the town criers for a major North American league sports league is a reminder of the power of the Internet to replace traditional reporting with specialized sites or forums that offer a mix news, opinion and rumors. Jorge Sierra, founder of Hoopshype, says that he likes the fact that his work has an impact on the NBA beyond his country.
After the Miami Heat announced that they were planning to trade Shaquille Oleal to the Phoenix Suns in February, the bilingual Hoopshype team met in Madrid’s Salamanca neighbourhood to discuss the story. Raul Barrigon was hunched over the computer in one of the smaller bedrooms. He searched the Internet for information, trying to understand the trade. “He still needs to pass a physical. That’s a big ‘if’ because he’s already messed-up physically,” stated Mr. Barrigon.
Angel Marin and Mr. Sierra sat opposite each other in the living room’s sparsely furnished space, piqueing at their laptops. Mr. Sierra dialed Danilo Galinari, an Italian player who is expected to be a top-pick in the NBA draft this summer. A reporter from ESPN online emailed Mr. Sierra to clarify a few details so he could link to his story. Tens of thousands of people visited the Hoopshype website to get the latest information on the Shaq deal. Mr. Sierra, a thin man with angular features who has deep-set eyes and a narrow head, rested his head on his left hand. He was up five hours earlier than normal, having gotten up at 7 a.m. He said, “It killed my.”
Six years ago, Mr. Sierra started Hoopshype in the bedroom of his parents’ Valladolid home. This is a town located 125 miles northwest from Madrid. After Spain won the 1984 Olympics finals, basketball’s popularity exploded in Spain. The 1992 Olympics in Barcelona saw basketball fever. A dream team of NBA players from the United States captivated the country. The 1980s saw a rise in interest in basketball, which led to a variety of Spanish-language magazines covering the game, including Gigantes. All three men were college students at Gigantes in 2000.
Mister Sierra began writing for a Web site about women’s basketball in 2001. He claims he was stunned to find that the site was actually making money. So he purchased a guide on how to make a website and launched Hoopshype. It crashed once per week, and it attracted no advertisers. Mr. Sierra was eventually able to find a group of U.S. writers who would contribute articles for $25 per shot. His connections to European pro basketball teams allowed him to secure interviews with players that were attracting attention from the U.S.
“If someone tells me they aren’t reading it, I would have to say that they might be trying to keep a lot things close to their vest,” Mr. Harris said.
Messrs. Sierra and Marin discuss American sports while having lunch at an Asian Fusion restaurant in Madrid. Mr. Marin takes out his laptop to see how much Internet traffic the Shaq trade generates. He is the technical, bookish guru of Hoopshype. He wears a black Tshirt that reads, “I void warranties.”