The last year or so has not been a great time for the Times sports section. The paper lost three major talents in Damon Hack, Selena Roberts and Lee Jenkins all to Sports Illustrated. Clifton Brown, an NFL reporter, went to—of all places—The Sporting News. The paper’s Nets reporter, John Eligon, left sports for the Metro desk.
Last year, the Nets beat, famously a career-launcher for the paper, was cut and the paper’s other NBA reporter, Liz Robbins, went on book leave. (Oddly, she has yet to return even though her book is finished.) Howard Beck, one of the many dispirited Knicks reporters from last year’s season in hell, was the only man The Times had to cover the NBA in 2007-08.
Finally, the paper has found its second man: Jonathan Abrams, a Clippers reporter for The Los Angeles Times, has escaped the clutches of Sam Zell and will join The New York Times’ Sports section.
Here’s the memo from Sports editor Tom Jolly:
Jonathan will cover some pro football for us in his first few weeks on the staff and then join Howard Beck in covering pro basketball. He starts on Sept. 8. As is our custom, we asked him to introduce himself:
“Jonathan Abrams joins the New York Times after spending three years at the paper formerly known as the Los Angeles Times. After a year covering the Clippers (yes, there is professional basketball beyond the Lakers in Los Angeles) and honing his skills reporting on a team that loses three out of four games, he is confident the same skills can transfer over to the Knicks, when necessary.
“Before covering the Clippers, Jonathan was a metro reporter for the L.A. Times, where he grew weary of white-knuckled drives up curvy mountains and through falling debris to cover the weekly wildfire.
“Jonathan graduated from the University of Southern California in 2005, where the football players earn a higher salary than most professors, but they have to because there is no N.F.L. in Los Angeles.
“Jonathan was born in California. Went to school in California. Had his first kiss in California. Worked in California. So, it’s time for a change. Good bye, palm trees. Hello, four seasons.”