The (new) Stein Line is online

Nearly two weeks into July, I know what you want and, frankly, demand this time of year. Fireworks! The player movement kind.

Don't worry. We will be dissecting that hoopla together right here, very soon, as the NBA calendar slowly recalibrates to something resembling normalcy.

In the interim, I'd like to tell you more about my big move. Today marks the formal launch of a landmark in my career: Direct-to-you Stein Line publishing. This Substack instantly becomes the new home for all my NBA writing after nearly four pinch-me years at The New York Times … and 15 years before that with ESPN.com's NBA team.

Switching to Substack did not happen via trade, and it's not quite the sort of free-agent signing #thisleague is known for, but it's Giannis-in-the-Finals-sized big for me in a world that rides so heavily on July machinations. Apologies for the Seriously Outdated Pop Culture Reference, but I've been hearing Captain Kirk's voice in my head for days, superseding all the usual voices that routinely intrude upon my ruminations, every time I think about what feels like stepping onto a transporter to zoom into a new journalistic frontier.

In recent years, whenever I've been asked by college students to forecast what's coming in our business, I've often said that I expect another technological game-changer which takes hold like Twitter, providing an unforeseen platform that changes the way we do our jobs just like tweeting did. I just couldn't tell them exactly what form it would take.

Now we're here. With its considerable self-publishing might, Substack has that same industry-changing feel that Twitter did more than a decade ago. 

As I described it recently in one of those "personal news" posts social media demands, Substack provides a deliciously blank canvas to write about the league I've covered for nearly 30 years in a fresh and groundbreaking way. I will choose all the topics, schedule all the posts, plan all the travel, answer all the questions and, most of all, maintain the closest connection possible to you as we go.

In-depth independent reporting and chronicling of the NBA, written fully in my voice and according to my very own style guide, will land directly in your Inbox multiple times weekly. The goal is to be informative, conversational and communal all at once.

I also hope, amid all the newness, that much of it seems familiar, too. My weekly newsletter bonanzas, which began in January 2018, will continue to arrive free in your Inbox as they always have. Every Tuesday, expect a robust and distinctive newsletter intended to replicate a full page of NBA notes from yesteryear's Sunday newspaper, or my old Weekend Dime columns for ESPN. All it takes is an e-mail address to sign up and you will get it free and direct every Tuesday — just as it arrived in its NYT incarnation.

All other posts, plus participation in discussion threads, additional opportunities for more direct deliberations and mailbags I assemble, will soon be reserved for paid subscribers.

In all forms there will be stories about the league's players, coaches and powerbrokers. There will be analysis, opinion and historical perspective. There will be experimentation as I endeavor to learn what forms of content work the best in 2021 and beyond. There will be chances — constantly — for you to tell me what you like and what you don't.

I will be talking year-round to people throughout the NBA, like I always have, and bringing that information directly to your Inbox. I will take you with me on my trips and share what I’m seeing and hearing. I will report for you.

It’s also true that I will always be a newspaper nerd, so there are undoubtedly aspects of The Times that I will miss deeply. The currency and feel of newsprint, especially Times newsprint, hold mystical properties to me. Living outside of the city for all of my time there, I still made it a mission to purchase two copies of the paper every time one of my articles ran. This column on the Phoenix Suns' reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993, which ran in print on July 2, might have been the last chance I get to do that.

Yet I simply couldn't resist the opportunity to chart my own course and follow the navigation of my entrepreneurial spirit. I felt the pull of engaging so directly with all of you and the ability to move more nimbly than ever before when the story demands it. Just heard something riveting at 2 AM that really should be transmitted to you immediately? Now I can assemble a story on the spot and have it waiting in your Inbox (for our American audience) when you wake up. There are no limits.

When I announced on April 28, 2017, that I would soon be leaving ESPN — which, of course, was not by choice — I received literally thousands of supportive tweets at my lowest professional point. One of the most memorable of those came from @DerekPerlman … someone I've never met but whose words have stayed with me ever since.


Derek taught me a lesson that day. He was right. You followed me to The Times, stayed connected to me through Twitter and can join me now in this new frontier by subscribing to my Substack.

The draft, free agency and the Olympics are all coming soon. The Transaction Game that has become a pillar of our summers — signings, trades, drama — is almost upon us. I've got a vintage Tuesday dispatch that will publish tomorrow, followed by all the best insider coverage I can muster.

I am eternally grateful for your readership.