Covering the Cleveland Cavaliers may seem glamorous.
It’s LeBron James.
It’s the NBA.
But the reality is that it takes a lot of hard work and long days.
Think about 48,585 airline miles, driving 9,129 miles and spending 71 nights in a hotel over an 82-game regular season. That does not include a playoff run that can last up to two months.
Welcome to the world of Jason Lloyd, the Beacon Journal’s Cavs writer. As an experienced reporter when he joined the Beacon Journal in 2010 — he worked for the Associated Press, ESPN.com, Cleveland Magazine and the (Lorain) Morning Journal — Jason had a good grasp of what it takes to cover a professional sports team.
His first big story that year was when LeBron James “took his talents to South Beach.” Now he is writing about a team that — with LeBron’s talents back in Cleveland — is making its second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.
What does Jason like best about covering the Cavs?
“When people find out what you do, they think that it is the coolest job in the world,” he said. “To document history is incredible for somebody who can’t shoot and can’t hit a curveball.”
But there is a downside.
The travel and long days take time away from his family. While Jason’s 14-year-old “gets it” and even has met some of the Cavs players, the time away is more difficult for his two younger children.
(For the record, Jason does take some time off during the season. Other sports reporters or wire services will cover those Cavs games.)
Here is Jason’s typical day, playoffs edition:
10 a.m. — Jason arrives for the team’s morning walk-through. The team also may watch some film.
10:45 a.m. — LeBron speaks. Jason listens.
Noon — Jason writes a story for Ohio.com. Then he goes home for a while.
5:30 p.m. — Jason is back at Quicken Loans Arena, three hours before 8:30 game time. He talks to anybody from the team to get a feel for how the night may go.
6:45 p.m. — Cavs coach Tyronn Lue speaks. Jason listens.
7 p.m. — The opposing coach speaks. Jason listens.
7:10 p.m. — Stand-up TV appearance for a pre-game analysis.
7:15 p.m. — Locker room is open for talking to players.
7:45 p.m. — Grab a bite to eat.
8:30 p.m. — Tip-off.
8:31 p.m. — Jason starts his game coverage by tweeting to his 36,200 followers. He also starts writing a game story while watching the action on the court. The goal is to have the story completed as the game ends (usually around 11:30 p.m.) so it can be posted on Ohio.com and meet deadline for a 12:15 a.m. press start for the Beacon Journal.
Five minutes after the game — Jason files his game story.
Six minutes after the game — Jason makes his way from the press area to the locker room for postgame interviews. LeBron always is the last one to speak.
12:15 a.m. — Postgame interviews are done. Jason and columnist Marla Ridenour put together a game analysis video for Ohio.com. Jason then starts writing his “Final Thoughts” column for Ohio.com. (If you have not read Jason’s Final Thoughts, you should — it’s worth it.)
3:30 a.m. — Jason goes home.
Jason is not alone in covering the Cavs. Marla writes columns on all the Cavs playoff games. Sports writer George Thomas takes video and writes stories for all the home playoff games. Other reporters may pitch in as needed. A still photographer — usually Phil Masturzo — shoots all the home playoff games.
The journalists in the field are supported by editors in the newsroom whose job is to make sure that all the game coverage gets on Ohio.com and in the Beacon Journal.
As for Jason, it’s a long day.
But he may be writing about a historic event if the Cavs bring a championship to Cleveland for the first time in 52 years. That makes it worth it.
Bruce Winges was reared on basketball in his native Kentucky. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3858.