5 Players' Tribune Stories That Went Viral
From DeAndre Jordan explaining his free agency flip-flopping to David Ortiz blasting the media for unfounded steroid accusations, the site has given athletes a space to candidly own the narrative.
A version of this story first appeared in the August 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
DeAndre Jordan — NBA
One of the league's biggest offseason dramas was Jordan's Where's Waldo?-esque travels, as the All-Star center entered free agency and was wooed by multiple teams. "Let's just say that free agency wasn't what I expected it to be. I thought it was going to be fun. I thought it was going to be like when I got recruited during college. But as it turns out, deciding what your future is going to be like is mostly a headache." After agreeing to join the Mavericks, he decided to stay with the Clippers, prompting Mark Cuban to stalk him at home. Jordan took to TPT with "Getting It Right" to explain his side of the story. "I've been here since I was 19. I love the city. I love the fans. I love my teammates. I love the organization."
Kevin Love — NBA
After a subpar season with the Cavaliers that included missing the NBA Finals with an injury and reports of friction with LeBron James, Love ended months of speculation with "Unfinished Business," in which he announced that he was coming back to Cleveland: "Yeah, of course I've heard the free agency rumors. But at the end of the day, and after meeting with my teammates (it turns out pools are great meeting places) and with the front office, it was clear Cleveland was the place for me. We're all on the same page and we're all in. We have unfinished business and now it's time to get back to work."
Race Imboden — Fencing
While the debate about paying college athletes has focused on football and basketball, Imboden, the world's No. 1 fencer, posted "Foiled," about how the NCAA forced him to choose between his college eligibility and a burgeoning modeling career. In the space of less than three years, Imboden had gone from an unheralded youth fencer to under-16 national champion to the Olympic team, earning a scholarship to St. Johns University in the process. But when the NCAA caught wind that he was modeling on the side, the organization deemed it "advertising," requiring him to do it pro bono or lose his eligibility. Imboden wanted to keep modeling, to keep fencing and to get an education. The NCAA forced him to choose two of the three and he dropped out of school. "If you want a community, you have to make your own. I'm 22 now, and fence for the same reasons as ever: my love of the sport and the thrill of competition. As I found out the hard way, the NCAA is a business."
David Oritz — MLB
In "The Dirt," the Red Sox All-Star talked about his name being leaked in 2009 as part of the MLB's steroid investigation and his anger at the media's guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude. His account of testers coming to draw his blood in his kitchen while his kids watched is almost surreal: "The guys come in with their equipment and start taking my blood in the kitchen. My kids are so used to this by now that they're laughing and taking pictures. This is nothing new. The one guy is sticking me with the needle while the other one is shooting the shit with me, telling me he's from Colorado." He says any violation was an inadvertent mistake caused by supplements bought at a GNC, but that didn't stop the media from piling on: "In 2013, I came off the DL and started hot. My first 20 games I was hitting like .400. And the reporter with the red jheri curl from The Boston Globe comes into the locker room says, 'You're from the Dominican. You're older. You fit the profile of a steroid user. Don't you think you're a prime suspect?' He's saying this with a straight face. I had taken like 70 at-bats. Anybody can get hot and hit .400 with 70 at-bats. I was stunned. I'm like, I'm Dominican? I fit the profile? Are you kidding me? I wanted to kill this guy. But you can't react. That's what they want. They want you to get angry so they can bury you. So I just smiled at him and asked for his address. 'Why do you want my address?' he said. 'Because I just got tested two days ago.' I said. 'I'll mail you the f****ing [sic] results.'"
Andrew Hawkins — NFL
The two-part series "Coming Up Short"/"Whatever It Takes" chronicled Hawkins' journey from undrafted college player to starting wide receiver in the NFL, including a detour to Canada (where he made $45,000) and the revelation that he cries with joy before every game. Among the things he did to make the league were pitching an agent via a fake letter from a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of Toledo; adding weights to his pockets and flesh-colored clay lifts to his heels to improve his physical measurements; and going on a reality show hosted by Michael Irvin to get another shot. And that's just part one. In the second half, he writes about playing in Canada for very little money and then struggling to make the Cleveland Browns roster. In the end, Hawkins succeeded, and after three seasons he was rewarded with a $13.6 million contract. Here's how he sums up the experience: "I still cry before every game. I wish I could put those feelings into words, but I can't. As the tears run down my face, I think of everywhere I've been, everything I've overcome and everything God has brought me through. Now, I'm able to provide for my son in a way I never thought I could. Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, despite the impossible odds, I achieved my dream. Yeah, I had to work the system a little bit along the way, but that agent, Craig Schaeffer, who bit on the bogus email? He's still my agent today, and we have a good laugh about it nowadays. 'If the one time I get duped in my life nets me almost half a million dollars and a great friend,' he jokes, 'then I must be doing something right.' So, if the question is: 'Hawk, what does it take?' My answer is: 'Whatever it takes.'"