Every morning I wake up and go through the exact same routine.
The coffee maker is set for 7:25 am. As the coffee drips into the pot, I roll out of bed and pop open my laptop.
I've got a bookmark folder on my toolbar that's labeled "AM"—as in, these are things I like to read in the morning.
When you have as many bookmark folders on your toolbar as I do, you need to come up with creative ways to abbreviate them so that you can squeeze as many of them onto the toolbar as you possibly can.
For example, the one with all my banking information is labeled "$$," and the one that contains all the sites that would be deemed "NSFW" are under the title "BS". You'd think that "NSFW" would suffice, but that's a little perverted—and you don't question why we have a special symbol (&) for a three-letter word like "and," so leave me alone.
I'm a fan of all major sports, but the game that really gets my juices flowing is basketball. Ask any other guy living in L.A. that's in his 30s or 40s and he'll probably tell you the same thing.
Sure, the Dodgers have had success in my lifetime. There's also no denying that USC Football is huge in the Southland. But basketball—and specifically, the Lakers—are the oil that keeps this city's engine running. Eight championships and 13 Finals appearances in my lifetime alone. I don't think that requires any other explanation.
There are a number of various sports, news and entertainment sites I like to look at every day. But a number of those I could live without. But there are five basketball-related websites that are not only bookmarked on my laptop, but also on my PDA:
Probably the most popular basketball website in the world. Unlike a lot of sports websites, HoopsHype is a seven-day-a-week operation. Each day the fine folks at HoopsHype comb the world's basketball-related newspapers and blogs, and package the main talking points into a neatly-presented one-stop-shop for basketball-related news.
Covering everything from the NBA to the international and minor leagues as well as prison leagues, HoopsHype is the bible for most NBA fans. In addition to news, the site also has sections devoted to player and team salaries, transactions, the NBA Draft, and articles and blogs from current and former NBA players like Eddie Johnson as well as noted NBA columnists like Roland Lazenby.
RealGM.com could be described as HoopsHype meets ESPN. It's like a more abbreviated version of HoopsHype, in that it concentrates on only the biggest stories. HoopsHype is for the guy that has an hour to kill. RealGM is more for the guy that only has fifteen minutes.
RealGM also scours the nation's newspapers for links and can boast about it's own knowledgeable columnists, but it's RealGM's "GM Resources" that separates it from HoopsHype.
Way before the ESPN Trade Machine, RealGM had it's own trademarked Trade Checker. Much more detailed and specific, there are some proposed trades that the Trade Machine will approve that the Trade Checker won't and it will explain exactly why. RealGM is the perfect site for the guy that doesn't want to shell out $40 a year to get ESPN Insider.
If a Nobel Prize would ever be awarded for basketball, then Larry Coon would be its first recipient. This kind soul has taken something as complex as the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement and put it into a CliffsNotes version—absolutely free.
Coon breaks down everything from the soft cap, to luxury tax amnesty provisions, to how a team's salary cap is affected when a player dies. He presents it in an idiot-proof FAQ format so that it's simple to navigate and find out what it is you're looking for without having to go through the entire site.
It's sites like this that will probably lead to libraries being closed down in the next twenty years. It will also lead to hundreds of more people like me who think they're capable of becoming agents without going to law school.
Have you ever heard of Omer Asik or Predrag Samardziski? Neither had I. NBADraft.net has both of them projected as second-round picks in next year's draft. If you haven't heard of NBADraft.net by now, then you should definitely check it out. It's a throwback to sites from a few years ago that believe that less is more.
The homepage contains a projection of both rounds of the NBA Draft and is updated constantly. Each player listed has his own page with a scout's take on his strengths and weaknesses, a grading system that measures the prospect in twelve different categories as well as an NBA comparison for each player.
The site also contains a draft history page that allows you to easily compare the star-studded 1996 draft with that of 2003. There are other great things you can find at NBADraft.net, such as a 2009 Mock Draft that includes current high school seniors and college players deemed not ready to enter this year's draft. There's also an "Outstanding Trades" page that shows you all of the conditions on draft picks that have been included in trades.
The site really kicks into high gear after the draft lottery. It's also a great page to track the draft as it's going on.
Patricia's Various Basketball Stuff is about as no-frills as a website can get. It's like going back to the Internet in 1994. There are no photos, no crazy fonts, and no ads—just information, and lots of it.
Patricia Bender has created a website that has basic information like team rosters, standings and scores. But it also has obscure things that you'd spent hours searching the net for if they weren't all in this one place. You can get a listing of all of the NBA's retired numbers, player salaries going back to the 1985-86 season, and year-by-year capsules of the draft, All-Star games, regular season and playoffs.
The text-only format makes it perfect for mobile phone and PDA browsers. She hasn't posted current player salaries, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were up by the trade deadline.