Yahoo writer Adrian Wojnarowski went on Katie Nolan’s Garbage Time podcast today and gave the fullest details yet about his new website, which is set to be launched Friday. The most interesting tidbit is probably that current Clippers guard JJ Redick will host his own weekly podcast on the site.
This past summer, Wojnarowski pitched his concept—modeled, somewhat, after Peter King’s MMQB—to a number of different media organizations. Though negotiations with Sports Illustrated got serious enough that there was a contract on the table, Wojnarowski ultimately decided to launch his new site with Yahoo, where he has been employed since 2006. The money probably didn’t hurt: Yahoo is reportedly paying Wojnarowski $2 million annually for the next four years.
In December, Yahoo announced that the forthcoming site would be called The Vertical, and that they’d hired Washington Post NBA columnist Michael Lee, 21-year-old Real GM scoopmaster Shams Charania, and former Brooklyn Nets front office exec Bobby Marks. It will also feature work from the brains behind DraftExpress and Nice Kicks, trainer Tim Grover, and Brian Scalabrine. Since then Yahoo has also hired Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix. One person whose work will not be featured on The Vertical is Wojnarowski’s longtime Yahoo colleague, Marc Spears, who will continue writing for Yahoo’s main NBA page.
That’s the foundation of a compelling site, and from Wojnarowski’s conversation with Nolan it sounds like The Vertical will go after some interesting stories:
We are going to use the access we have around the league to go inside. One of the first stories we’ll have when we launch on Friday is Michael Lee, who we hired from the Washington Post who’s tremendous, spent two or three days inside the coaching staff of an NBA team as they prepared for a game. In the locker room, in the coaches meetings. We want to take people inside, kind of pull the curtain back on the league.
There’s also a heavy multimedia component to the site. Wojnarowski has already launched his own podcast featuring NBA heavyweights like commissioner Adam Silver and Warriors GM Bob Myers—as Wojnarowski admits, his podcasting skills are still raw, and his guests have carried the show so far—and there will also be a weekly podcast hosted by JJ Redick:
He is going to talk to players in the league, teammates, coaches ... there’s never been an active player who has taken on something like this.
Wojnarowski also announced that the site would feature a lot of video, helmed by Mannix. Perhaps most intriguingly—and frankly, confusingly—the site will host live, news-breaking shows during important times in the NBA schedule:
We’re going to do a lot of video. Chris Mannix from Sports Illustrated, he’ll be on the front lines of that for us. He’s a great writer too, but we’re going to have out of our studio in New York, trade deadline, NBA draft, free agency, we’re going to go live eventually, and break news on air. we have a great set there.
While we often take issue with Peter King, he uses his access to help MMQB writers score stories that make it the most interesting NFL site on the internet. Whatever you can say about Wojnarowski—and I have—if he can similarly leverage his access to get his reporters behind the scenes to do truly unique reporting to run alongside his scoops and influence-peddling columns, The Vertical will be one of the best basketball sites around.
Note: This article has been updated to clarify Marc Spears’s role.