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A Decade of Project Spurs

Project Spurs in 2006

Project Spurs in 2006

Today marks exactly ten years since I pushed buy on the projectspurs.com domain name at a domain registrar and decided to commit to what had been a side project/hobby.

I started Project Spurs with someone I met on a forum some time before that day, but I consider the day I purchased the domain as the day it all really started.

A guy named Noe Garcia, still in high school at the time, messaged me in the West Coast Remix forum. West Coast Remix was a group/site I was part of that designed sports graphics and desktop wallpapers. He told me about an idea he had for a sports site and needed designers and writers. As a lover of sports, I decided to give it a try.

Coincidentally, I found out Noe was from San Antonio. I had just given up a dream job where I was credentialed as the Spurs columnist for a local paper in San Antonio for the past five years, but left to move to San Marcos.

We decided we should really be doing something on the Spurs. Noe was sold on the idea of calling it Project Spurs Entertainment. To say the least, I was not a big fan of any part of the name aside from the word Spurs. I told him I would keep ‘Project’ if we could kill ‘Entertainment’ from the name. Project Spurs was born. I wasn’t crazy about the name, but I was excited about jumping online and starting a new experience. The idea of publishing online instantly had me hooked.

Noe had to give up the site soon after because of school, but I kept trucking along with someone else I recruited. Project Spurs was a news site, publishing without a real cms. I was taking down the site, adding the content, and re-publishing every time we had a new story. We also had a graphics section, played around with having a forum, chat room and other features.

Our first full season was interesting and fun. In May, during the playoffs that first year, I heard about podcasts starting, before they were given that name. I used to watch a show called the Screensavers, and when I found out the former hosts got together to record, and that it didn’t take a ton of equipment to start, I had an idea. What if we could offer our readers audio content as well that they can download and listen on their computers or iPods. It would be like a Spurs radio show on the internet. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to explain what a podcast was.

19449_268552438668_2371560_nAnyway, I dug up a cheap mic I bought for a college assignment once, downloaded a free audio program and started recording TERRIBLE solo podcasts. I had someone that would record with me occasionally, but I was looking for a regular co-host. Some guy Jeff Garcia, who was not the NFL quarterback, had replied to my craigslist posting for writers. When we talked on the phone, I knew he was the guy. Jeff joined me on the fourth episode of the Spurscast and we did over 300 shows together before we decided to hand it off to someone else that was deserving and that could dedicate some time to it.

Fast forward nine years, and Jeff is still right there helping me lead an amazing team. He’s been right there to help and take over when I’ve needed him to. It’s been great having someone next to me all these years who believes in what we are doing and has no ceiling in sight.

While I’ve always thought Jeff was skilled in several areas, I’ve always thought he was overlooked when it came to his ability to host a show. Doing the podcast and live shows with him, and turning the Spurs Roundtable reigns over to much more capable hands in his, and seeing him flourish, told me it was just a matter of time before he would get an opportunity. I’m proud to say that Jeff will now be co-hosting the Halftime Sports show on ESPN 1250 AM with Hector Ledesma. I can’t wait to listen.

Aside from Jeff coming aboard, there have been a few other people that have truly shaped Project Spurs. In January of 2011, I had been reading the Tumblr posts of someone I was following on Twitter, Paul Garcia. He wrote a series called “Views from the Couch.” I was really looking for something different to add to the group and content for the site, and I had a good feeling about this guy, and loved the way he broke down the game, even if it was from his couch.

We brought him aboard and aside from consistently publishing great work, I saw a hunger to improve in him. Jeff and I let him handle some recaps, and would try to give him tips when we could, and boy, we had just hit the surface. Paul, just like Jeff, quickly surpassed expectations. It was clear he could write, and this is what he wanted to do. We had just been credentialed as a site previously after years of trying, and with Jeff in New York, I needed someone locally that could help cover games.

303856_998445565175_68949474_nPaul and I went to a few Austin Toros games, just to get him used to what he’d have to do, and to get him comfortable interviewing players and coaches. Aside from that, we wanted to make sure he knew he was there working, and not as a fan. We first interviewed Squeaky Johnson. I could tell Paul was a bit apprehensive, but he got through the first interview and soared from there. Now Paul makes me look like I’m the rookie when we’re out covering games, and I now look to him for advice when I’m working on a feature.

As is the case with Jeff, I’m lucky enough to count Paul not just as a writer, or editor now, but also as a good friend.

I first met Aaron Preine when he was sitting next to me covering a home game for another site. I introduced myself and he nearly knocked me into oblivion when I was dodging a t-shirt that has just been shot out of a cannon. I had always admired Aaron’s work from afar, but working closer with him has given me a new appreciation for his work and many talents.

When he decided to join Project Spurs, I knew we were very fortunate. Not only can Aaron write, but he is also a natural on the podcast, and a great fit on the roundtable shows. And his talents don’t end there. He’s also a fantastic graphic designer, so he brings quite a bit to the table, and is now one of the core leaders of the site.

I honestly could go on and on, and talk about every member of our staff. I can’t say enough about Jose Grijalva and how he’s gone from being a reader/listener to now being a very valued member of the team. Stephen Anderson is turning his passion and dream into a reality, and being a small part of that is an honor. A big thank you to Quixem Ramirez, Andrew Ball, Chelsea Torres, Madalyn Mendoza and Benjamin Bornstein. We couldn’t do what we do without any of them and everyone that has come before them.

Thanks also to my family and to Melissa Ybarra, Sarah Alvarado and Natalie Preine for believing in us, what we are doing and supporting us through the long nights, the playoffs, the free agency period, trade deadline and the offseason that really doesn’t exist.

We’ve also made some great friends in our fellow bloggers and local media members that have encouraged us to continue what we are doing. We also thank the San Antonio Spurs for continuing to trust us and allow us to provide our readers the type of coverage we were never able to achieve before. Most of all, we want to thank everyone who takes time to read Project Spurs, listen to the Spurscast or watch the Roundtable. Doing this without you wouldn’t quite be the same, and we are still floored all the time that you are out there reading, commenting, listening and watching.

Covering the Spurs for the last ten years has been fun and it’s been a learning experience, but building lasting friendships has been my favorite part of it all. Thanks for ten years, and here’s to the next ten. Maybe we’ll actually have flying cars by then.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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