A stay-at-home sportswriting session: Talking shop with an old friend (and his journalism students)

Matt is going to kill me for sharing this pic.

But he’ll laugh first.

It’s the late 1990s, and our band of aspiring writers, editors and photographers from the Sacramento State newspaper, The State Hornet, is running around the city of Atlanta for a journalism convention that might have also included some evening hours hijinx along the way. This shot, more than any other, speaks to that nostalgic silliness that came during a simpler time.


Dude in boxers, in the middle of a hotel room hallway, having some sort of animated conversation with the rest of us who had never been out on our own quite like this before. The next day (likely), there’s me rocking khaki shorts, a camera bag and…yeah, we’ll just move on from the Centennial Olympic Park fashion review.


Great memories.

Back then, Matt was the funny and insightful columnist at the Hornet while I was everything from the women’s rowing beat writer to Sports Editor with every gig in between. Fast forward 20-plus years, and now he’s a media teacher at El Camino High School who helps his students put together a newspaper of their own (among many other media things).

Matt and I connected on all things sportswriting earlier this week, talking for 45 minutes with his class about lede writing and story finding and all the things that have become quite a bit tougher during this time of quarantine and suspended sports. But the elements of what we do remain the same, and our chat seemed like the sort of thing that other young folks might enjoy as we all sit around waiting for this pandemic to pass.

Hope you enjoy…

Come join us at The Athletic…

In case you hadn’t heard, I relocated after six memorable years at USA Today. Come join us at The Athletic, where insight, insider perspective and storytelling are being championed in a major way.

Story on why I went to The Athletic can be found here.

And my first piece, naturally, was an interview with the guy who broke the story.

Athletic tweet

On the beat…

For programming purposes, here’s where you can find all the latest NBA coverage from yours truly…

Story archive, at USA TODAY Sports

NBA A to Z podcast archive




Snapchat: Sambobamick

From Game 4 in Cleveland (below) to another wild NBA “offseason,” the hoops stories continue…



404 – (Amick) not found

Just the other day, like most days, an e-mail popped into my inbox that I glanced at for no more than .007 seconds. But something about this particular note inspired a double-take: the word ‘Anniversary.’

“Uh oh,” I thought as the sweat began to build on my brow. Did I miss my wedding anniversary?! Alas, this was a different type of anniversary, as the professional web site, LinkedIn, was informing me that it had been four years since I joined the team at USA TODAY Sports.

Time sure flies, man.

When I hopped on board at our place, joining Jeff Zillgitt in covering the NBA after spending the previous two years at Sports Illustrated, James Harden had just been traded from OKC to the Rockets and Dwight Howard was two months into his short-but-not-so-sweet stay with the Lakers. Needless to say, not everyone has been lucky enough to find a good squad and stick with it.

All of which is a long-winded, stream-of-consciousness way of saying that this site has mostly become an Amick archive these days. If you haven’t followed me over to our USA TODAY Sports NBA site, then I’m clearly doing it wrong. But for the few stragglers who still stumble on here every so often, come join me over there and celebrate the fact that high-level hoops is in such rich supply these days.

The NBA, and by proxy those of us blessed to cover it, is alive and well.

Footnote: If you’re the podcast-listening type, be sure to subscribe to our “NBA A to Z” show on iTunes here. For the Soundcloud crowd, the pod can be found here. 


Rough finish for the Rockets…

Marc Gasol was a man on fire at the finish, hitting the game-winner to put Memphis over Houston in a clash of the Western Conference elite on Wednesday night. But man oh man was that a rough blown call late that would have put James Harden at the line and given the Rockets the two-lead lead with six seconds to go. Houston coach Kevin McHale went nuts, and with good reason – JAMES FOUL

The lost Andre Miller story is found…

Local family members didn’t see it coming, but they celebrated when Andre Miller (24) of the Trail Blazers torched the Mavericks for a career-high 52 points Jan. 30.
When news of Andre Miller’s 52-point outing at Dallas on Jan. 30 spread, the reaction among those who know the Portland guard best was almost universal. And local basketball guru Guss Armstead, it’s safe to say, could have been the spokesman of that elated bunch.
“It definitely surprised me, because his whole game has always been an attack game but more of a facilitator, getting other guys involved,” said Armstead, who has welcomed Miller into his high-level summertime scrimmages and watched him closely for years. “To see him get 50 (points)? I think a lot of people were really surprised. I think everybody was pretty surprised that Andre Miller scored 50 points. I can’t honestly say I saw that coming.”
One of the league’s most underrated point guards has flown under the radar in Sacramento for nearly 20 years. Before Miller had numerous houses in the area and spent his offseasons in El Dorado Hills, he would head north from his Los Angeles hometown during childhood summers to stay with aunts and uncles in the region. His roots here grew deeper during his high school years, when Miller’s Verbum Dei teams would take part in the Father Barry Classic at Jesuit High and Miller met his adopted family.
During Miller’s sophomore year, he became instant friends with then-Jesuit freshman Dominick Barnett. He would stay at Dwight and Kim Barnett’s three-bedroom house in Antelope during the tournament every year, enjoying the family atmosphere and homecooked soul food that has grown into a business. The Barnetts, who now run the popular “House of Chicken and Ribs” restaurant in Antelope, later became Miller’s godparents at the request of his mother, Andrea Robinson.
When the Barnetts heard of Miller’s 52-point performance in a 114-112 Blazers victory in overtime in which Miller hit 22 of 31 shots, the pride swelled, as it has many times before. It was much the same scene at Arco Arena, where his aunt, Marsha, works as part of the Kings’ game-day staff and was thrilled to hear of her nephew’s achievement.
“He was just out of control,” Dwight Barnett said. “When I heard 52 points, I just thought, ‘My goodness, that’s Kobe Bryant numbers.’ Not LeBron (James), because I don’t know if he has done 52. #133; He was incredible.”
James has reached that mark, but not often. He has scored 52 or more points four times in his seven seasons, the latest a 55-point performance at Milwaukee on Feb. 20, 2009. Hitting the half-century mark remains a rare feat, as the Elias Sports Bureau reports there have been 19 50-point games since the start of the 2007-08 season and just two others this season (Milwaukee rookie Brandon Jennings scored 55 on Nov. 14, and Denver’s Carmelo Anthony had 50 on Nov. 27).
What’s more, Miller knocked down Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie one spot on Portland’s all-time list of single-game scoring marks. Miller’s game is tied for second with Brandon Roy and trails only Damon Stoudamire’s 54-point game on Jan. 14, 2005. Petrie, who was the Blazers’ first draft choice in 1970, is tied with himself for third place. He twice scored 51 points in 1973, the first coming at Houston on Jan. 20 and the second at home against Houston on March 16. Miller’s 22 field goals also supplanted Petrie and three others as Portland’s leader in shots made in a game (Petrie twice had 20).
Miller’s game was most surprising because of his style. The 11-year veteran, who signed with Portlandlast summer, had never scored more than 37 points and averaged 14.6 points per game for his career entering the season. In the five games before the 52, he scored 54 points combined. And while it didn’t show against the Mavericks, he has struggled to adjust to his new teammates.
Miller, whose deal guarantees him $14 million for this season and next, publicly voiced his frustration at coming off the bench early in the season. He then did it privately Jan. 7, reportedly engaging in a heated 30-minute post-practice exchange with coach Nate McMillan. “I think him and Nate were just not clicking right and he wanted to play a more pivotal role in helping the organization win,” Barnett said. “That’s what that was all about, just making playoffs and wanting to go to the Western Conference (finals) and try to win a championship.”

Talking hoops on KNBR

The time for New Year’s resolutions is quite a ways off, but this was on the list long before 2014 rolled around: upload more multimedia to the lonely platform known as NBA Confidential. Alas, this is a start – my Thursday appearance on KNBR with Bob Fitzgerald and Rod Brooks. Talking Phil Jackson, Lakers, Warriors, and much more.

To hear the interview, click here. 

Please leave a message – Sam is not available right now


The NBA season has a way of swallowing you whole, so pardon the interruption in programming on this platform that doesn’t pitch in on paying the bills (alliteration alert!). I’m grinding away covering the latest campaign at the USA TODAY-job, and otherwise relishing in the fact that I remain more popular to my two sons than any player in the Association (For now, anyways. They started falling for Kobe a while back because he was in a Justin Bieber song, but that eventually ended when Mom and Dad immediately started banning Bieber from the Amick household. Bad example and such…).  

Between those two responsibilities, there’s just not much time left to wax poetic to the non-existent NBA Confidential crowd. But just in case some old friend stops by, consider this the latest stopping of a silence streak on here. And consider it done. Thanks for the reading of the coverage, which hopefully translates to the enjoying of the coverage. All the latest stuff is here. Be well.

P.S. In a weak attempt to add some value to this post, it’s contest time: the first person to identify the locations of both pictures in this post will receive…an e-mail saying ‘way to go.’ A hint: from the ‘Cowtown’ to ‘Beantown.’ Ok, so that’s more than a hint.



NBA Confidential lives – now listen to this radio hit

From Twitter to Facebook to Instagram and the rest, there are an ever-increasing number of digital mouths to feed these days. But on this sleepy Friday morning in Northern California in which I’m tweeting out links to the new “A to Z” column and sipping on coffee from my fancy new maker that came courtesy of my wife on a recent birthday and made me feel simultaneously happy and old, I’ve reached the conclusion that NBA Confidential needs a little love. After all, that $12 annual hosting fee isn’t being paid to GoDaddy.com for nothing.

Yes, I’m aware that I just subjected at least a few dozen readers to a horrific run-on sentence at the start, but there’s a reason for that: to lower the bar right away and make it clear that these sporadic NBA Confidential posts will be nothing if not unrefined. Most of the time, I’ll simply link to the latest radio or television interview, or perhaps ramble about something that’s not worthy of USA Today presence but could be worthwhile here. There will be an occasional poll, too, for those times when the well of ideas is running dry and it comes in handy to read the room.

With that, I present my Wednesday chat with KNBR 1050 talent, friend, and the star of NBA 2K14, Damon Bruce. Our segment starts around the 24:30 minute mark, with a shout-out for the Mrs. – http://www.stationcaster.com/player_skinned.php?s=851&c=4841&f=1982833

On the (media) road again…

Belated thanks to the good folks at SI.com, specifically Paul Fichtenbaum, Brad Weinstein and Nicki Jhabvala. As if the thrill of landing on the cover of such a storied magazine wasn’t enough, the experience covering the NBA there was memorable and they were phenomenal. But another challenge arose: I moved on to USA TODAY Sports back in October, and the continued coverage of the Association can be found here.

The point of this post, truth be told, is to simply get Toronto’s pursuit of Steve Nash from back in July off the above-the-fold portion of this page. I’m well aware that it’s only the occasional relative reading this blog at this point, and even they probably lie about knowing it even exists (“oh sure, Sam, yeah I knew you had a web site…”).

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