Verdict: Ex-prosecutor Grant Hughes is FC of the Month
Grant Hughes graduated law school in 2009 and quickly landed a job as a prosecutor with the Mendocino, Calif., District Attorney’s Office, where he continued his education about how to formulate the perfect argument.
One would think that his legal background, his experience convincing judge and jury his case was sound, would carry over to his work as a sportswriter—where the idea is to try to do the same with readers.
“That’s funny, I can almost say that unequivocally, no, it hasn’t helped,” said Hughes, Bleacher Report’s Featured Columnist of the Month for June. “Legal writing is completely devoid of any sort of style—it’s basically like having a computer answer a question.”
It was boredom with that rigid world of the law that prompted Hughes to jump to the more freewheeling sportswriting realm. Hughes joined the site as an editing intern last June and began working toward a Featured Columnist spot in August. These days, he logs 40-hour weeks for the NBA team as one of its most prominent on-call writers. His legal career is, for the moment, behind him.
“Cutting and pasting settlements, plugging in facts into templates,” Hughes says of writing for the court. “It’s all very jargony and was not very interesting.” He credits his high school and college teachers for building his writing foundation. Then, when he joined B/R, on what he describes as a whim, things took off.
“I came into B/R almost completely blind. I knew I wanted to do something I enjoyed, and I’m obviously a sports fan and have always enjoyed writing,” he said. “But I had no idea what a lede was, I would write these exceptionally long paragraphs and all that other stuff.
“B/R was instrumental in teaching me so many of the basics.”
Hughes says he jumped in with little technical journalism knowledge, but his natural talent for hoops analysis and putting one word in front of the next were noticed immediately.
“It was easy to recognize Hughes’ potential from the minute his FC trial started,” Assistant NBA Editor Joel Cordes said. “That he had the work ethic and collaborative personality to back it up makes him one of the most complete packages on our very, very talented NBA writing staff.”
A native of San Jose who attended Santa Clara University for both undergrad and law school, Hughes’ main sports loyalties aren’t tough to guess: Warriors, 49ers and Giants. But as someone whose fondest childhood memories are watching basketball on Saturday and Sunday mornings to the “NBA on NBC” theme song, it’s the Warriors who have captivated him the most.
There’s also the whole watching-every-Warriors-game-for-the-last-20-years thing that has kept hoops closer to his heart. And he relishes basketball’s less formulaic approach from a writing standpoint.
“I love baseball, but for me I feel like there’s not really a ton to say about it because you have to be so careful with your analysis,” he said. “There’s inevitably going to be so many truths because with sabermetrics and all these advanced stats being so accurate, it’s almost boring to me to write about it.
“There are so many more variables to look at with basketball. I think basketball may be on the cusp of an analytical revolution, but there are still so many aspects that need to be figured out. It’s a great time to be studying and writing about basketball.”
His workmanlike effort along with a studious approach to the game triggered Hughes’ meteoric rise through the FC ranks.
“Grant is another reminder that the most informed and well-read writers rise to the top,” NBA Editor Chris Trenchard said. “His vast knowledge of the NBA is a product of countless hours reading the work of NBA authorities such as Grantland’s Zach Lowe and other niche experts.”
There’s a lesson in this hard-working former prosecutor’s story, Trenchard says: ”Take note, ambitious scribes: Do your homework and the craft becomes second nature.”
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Sean Swaby is Bleacher Report’s Featured Columnist Coordinator.