Is ‘City of Basketball Love’ Ending?

This was something that caught my eye last night.

(EDIT: The tweet has been deleted)

I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a “thanks and good bye” message to me. And some Inquirer writers also makes it seem like the popular college basketball site is ending.

If you try to go on their website, you’re greeted with a SportsEngine login page– which is what hosted the site. That’s not the same as sections and articles on the site. They work fine, as shown with the high school page. (EDIT: That page now redirects you to the SportsEngine login as well).

The account tweeted a story on Sean Yoder committing to Navy earlier yesterday, something that was posted on Tuesday. They were also in the midst of their 2018-19 college previews, which just began with Drexel on Monday.

The site’s co-founder and editor-in-chief, Josh Verlin, has his Twitter account inactive. Back in June, he wrote a post on the sixth anniversary of the site about battling depression.

This spring has been a trying one in my private life, and that’s had a major impact on my ability to run the business at the level I have been over the first five years and change. At first, I just tried to ignore it and push through, working as much as I could, but ultimately it was overwhelming, and I had to back off significantly.

As I’ve posted on social media several weeks back, I’ve dealt with chronic depression since my early teens. The combination of a recent breakup and a search for a new place to live, along with my general stress about growing this business and making its best that it could be — a stress that’s always at least in the back of my mind — brought me into a bad place. And I’ve learned enough about myself over the years to know when I need to take a couple steps back and let things settle out. So that’s what I did.

Though I know that the last two months have been necessary for my mental health and just to get my private life in order, I still feel as though I’ve let down all the players, coaches, parents and fans who have relied on our site’s steady presence throughout the years. And I’m sure people will tell me that I don’t need to feel this way, my health is my priority, etc., and I get that. But I still feel badly. So there you have it.

A few things. First off, I hope everything with Josh is good. I’ve read his work on CoBL as well as when he joined the Inquirer last year. He does a great service to the high school and college basketball scene.

Second, it would suck to see the site go right before the start of the hoops season. I’ve been a fan of the site since I was a junior at La Salle College High School, and it was a blessing to have a different voice dedicated to the sport. Talking to him a few times while running the La Salle Sports Twitter account– Josh is a genuine guy. I’ll miss the site, and so will the local college hoops scene.

UPDATE: Since the post was published, the account tweeted directly to me. I tried reaching out to them but was blocked by the account shortly after (I have since been unblocked).

They also replied to their last tweet with a grim outlook on sports journalism.

UPDATE #2: Looks like the site is done, according to the Twitter account.

There’s also more tweets coming in. Some people close to him think it’s not Josh tweeting from the account, but it does not appear to be the case. They have since all been deleted.

UPDATE #3: The CoBL website home page shows this.

If you Google the site, the sections don’t work. Some articles are still accessible via Twitter.

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28 Responses

  1. Cuz should take over for him. Cuz knows everything about hoops and everyone knows The Cuz. Perfect match.

  2. Hopefully Josh is ok. The local HS basketball does not receive much attention despite tons of local D1 players, and COBL was great for the coverage they provided. It’s a shame there is not a lot of money available to cover High School sports. I was always surprised that Sportsnet never devoted the resources to this.

    I hope he does not believe that he let down the players and coaches.

  3. People who know local HS and College BB:
    Dana O Neil
    Jeremy Treatment
    Mike Jensen
    Kyle (to a certain extent)
    Sonny Hill

    People who think they know local HS and college BB but dont:
    Joe “cut and paste” Juilano
    Jonathan “Not Penn State” Tannenwald
    Reuben “Let me cover Nova” Frank

    People who used to know local college BB but no longer do:
    Anthony Gargano

  4. Kid’s an entitled brat. Parents funded his site. He grasps for responses and compliments. Could have easily just went dark, but deletes his account and website, then STILL responds on another Twitter account. “LOOK AT ME! PLEASE! CARE ABOUT ME!” Treated his writers and followers like shit. Needs help but refuses to get it. GET. HELP.

    1. I agree. Just another example of an entitled 20 something that can’t cope and deal with failure when he doesn’t get his own way. Hopefully he gets help, learns from this experience and grows up a little bit. There is nothing wrong with failure or admitting failure. There are different ways to deal with it and this is not the way (very childish) Kind of losses respect and credibility when you just ghost and tweet out angry replies. Want to be treated like a professional? Act like it.

      1. Did this make you feel good? Bring a slight chuckle to your face? You proud of yourself? Have you ever once stopped to think about the person on the receiving end of a comment like this? I guess it’s Trump’s world now and we only live in it. You should be ashamed.

        1. Yes. I wrote “Hopefully he gets help, learns from this experience and grows up a little bit.” What is it like to be on a receiving end of a comment like this? It is honesty and if people in general can’t cope or deal with honesty that is what is sad.

  5. I usually read the comments for pithy replies that are humorous. You guys all need to back off in this one. Josh provided a service to Philadelphia basketball fans for six years. Unfortunately the business model did not work. Hope he gets himself in a better place just like those above posting these disgusting comments.

    1. These people are sick in the head. It’s just that simple. Here’s someone who obviously needs help and will read this, and they don’t even give it a second thought. Hope it made you feel good, tough guy.

  6. Was on Josh’s staff. Told all of his writers he was going dark and didn’t give further information. Completely left us in the dust right before the season started.

    1. It happens in businesses every day. I feel bad for you. Hopefully you can hook up with another outlet. The business model is broken. Somehow you have to monetize.

  7. I don’t read his site but have mental health training. All usual CB b.s. aside, I sincerely hope that this guy’s family and friends are with him and lead him to get the help he’s clearly in need of. Those tweets don’t sound desperate; they sound like someone who’s given up on a lot more than his website. This doesn’t read like a pathetic Damon Feldman attention-seeking publicity stunt — this dude is in a dangerously bad place.

  8. Why is this even a story? I didn’t even though the page existed. Sounds like it was good content but the guy decided to shut it down. Leave him alone and move on. He doesn’t need any attention (positive or negative)

    1. For some people, it was a big hub for go-to HS and college stuff. More geared towards HS and college kids and their followers and parents. Most of the CB staff didn’t know about the site or Verlin either. He also got a job with the Inquirer doing HS and college hoops, so it was a little surprising to see it go.

  9. First of all, as a guy who has worked with Josh for 6 years, I’ll tell you that he is one of the best people I know and someone who has been totally committed to basketball in the Philadelphia city and region. Count the number of articles that have appeared over the years, the player profiles, the camps and so much more. What you can’t count is the impact that the Josh and the site has had on the lives of kids who have gotten an opportunity to play college ball. Sure, everyone knows about the super-talented, Division 1 prospects, but how many players got great opportunities at D2 and D3 schools because of the site coverage and camps? And the writers? How many writers got started with Josh and then moved on to established sports reporting organizations? There’s not another site for hundreds of miles in any direction that make the same claim.

    It makes me sick to read some of the comments here from people who have nothing better to do but whine, denigrate or mock another person when he’s down. Typical social media trolls with nothing to show in their own lives so they take shots at somebody else’s because it makes them feel big. Well, trolls, you’re not big. You’re small, so very small. Just look at the body of work and then look at what you’ve produced….yeah, that’s what I thought. do something similar to CoBL for several years and then come back and talk to me.

    I don’t know if CoBL is ending or not. It shouldn’t. It occupied a niche that delivered useful, interesting content to many readers, players, fans and coaches. But if it has ended, then it should end with pride and heads held high. The ride was great and getting to know the Philly basketball scene was even better.

    1. “But if it has ended, then it should end with pride and heads held high.” Agreed, but that is not how Josh ended it, did he? Just shut it down, didn’t tell writers and fired off some concerning tweets. What a person accomplishes is not the only measure of a man. How that person conducts themselves and deals with adversity (or failure) is also important. It says a lot about a persons character. I’m sure Josh is a hard worker and a great guy and hopefully can accept the criticism and learn from it. Nothing written was overly mocking or kicking a person while he is down. I read some simple contractive criticism that based on the article and his tweets, is warranted. Constructive criticism can be helpful and help a person grow. You are right, he has accomplished a lot more than others aspiring to write. With that it is fair to criticize his behavior and self assessment of his site a failure. Ronald Darby was a little harsh but like you said, who the hell is he? Nobody. Why should Josh let a nobody effect him? He shouldn’t. What he should do is see the errors in the way he shut down the site and his tweets and learn from that. That is good advice, not kicking someone when he is down. Like you wrote “it should end with pride and heads held high”

      1. Eric, I agree with you that there were certainly better ways to end the site. But I’ll refer you to Josh’s own comments in the 6th anniversary post about his struggle with depression. Fact is, you and I probably have no idea what circumstances led to his decision, nor do we have first-hand knowledge of the influence of depression on his actions. So for that, as well as having known him for 6 years, I give him a pass.

        I disagree with your assessment that the troll comments weren’t that harsh – again, given the circumstances, if someone is struggling, even one mocking comment, “..go sell T-shirts” is one too many. Ronald Darby’s was beyond inappropriate. Even Jalen Mills, who provided some honest and reasonable negative feedback, didn’t need to start it all off with a mischaracterization of a 20 sonething who can’t deal with failure, etc.

        The “concerning tweets” were just that – concerning. And I am concerned. Depression is not something yo be taken lightly. I’m sorry for the writers but Josh did inform them of his intention to take down the site. Hell, I worked for a big company that went bankrupt and they didn’t even tell us until after the doors were locked.

        There will be plenty of time for more in-depth post-mortems and critiques of what happened but now is the time for simply mourning the loss of a great content resource, and having compassion for the guy who made it all happen.

  10. Josh did a terrific job with the site. He has a true passion for the game and the exposure that he brought to kids, as well as a number of high school programs can not underestimated. He’s obviously going through a very, very tough time right now, and so the tweets are not surprising, but he will learn from it. This is something that was his dream, but the reality of the sports journalism industry finally took over. When his thoughts are clear, and as he moves on to his next gig, he will see how much he has learned – not just the writing – but how to deal with people (coaches, parents, players, other media, etc.). The amount of real world experience that he gained from this is invaluable – experience that people don’t get until their mid-30’s. This is truly invaluable experience that he will be able to share with future employers when he interviews for a job. Perhaps Sonny Hill, Jay Wright, Phil Martelli, or some of the local coaches (or even former players) can get him in somewhere where he can contribute his passion in a place that is financially sustainable. He has made so many contacts over the years, the possibilities are boundless. As an example, he could do a weekly segment on 94.1 or 97.5, or even 93.3 or one of the non-sports stations. First and foremost, I hope that he takes care of his depression. Once he works through that – and he will – he will see that has accomplished a great deal and will be a great asset to a future employer. I wish him all of the best.

  11. He’s a douche. A liberal wannabe liberal reporter, a wimp who couldn’t handle criticism, evidence by the only comments from his followers he would reply to, were the negative ones. I don’t wanna hear about his depression BS, oh, my GF dumped me, (probably for a real man) and the other weak stuff that he claimed made him depressed! I was homeless recently for two weeks! No place to go! Nowhere to sleep! Have the cops called on me because I was just resting on a park table! Did I have any no so good thoughts? You bet! Did I feel like there was nothing worth living for? You bet! But, I stayed strong and overcame that obstacle and am no longer homeless! This just a woe is me deal, evidence by his immature responses to this article. Good riddance!

  12. You guys are tough. Josh did a ton for local basketball players. His college showcases where and hopefully still are the best in the area. Actually his showcases got my son noticed by over 20 schools. Actually is going to school to play basketball because of it. Some people love others misery but not me. It’s sad to see these things written about a great young man who put countless hours in and am sure didnt make much coin. Which leads me to beleive that is reason he closed shop. Either way I thank Josh for the time he put in and hopefully reopens shop soon.

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