For those of you who don’t know the greatest basketball fan site on the internet, shame on you…unless you don’t care about the NBA or the Rockets, then, whatevs. In any case, ClutchFans.com turns 10-years-old today. The site run by my good friend and business partner – the guy nearly 20,000 people over on the bulletin board know as simply “Clutch” – is one of the finest and most popular fan websites on the internet. Here is what I posted in the thread created there to celebrate:
Just so a few of you understand the work that has gone into this site over the past 10 years.
Clutch has a wife and a family. He has been through life crises, a marriage and the birth all his children in the last ten years, nevermind multiple physical moves through at least four cities and three states. He’s worked at multiple companies and started his own successful business. He’s made more server moves than I can count and repaired God only knows how many problems with features in multiple software formats.
He’s been spurned and/or ignored on more than one occassion by the team he loves despite being a significant driving force behind their profits (including their new arena). He’s received multiple cease and desist letters from the NBA and its attorneys.
He was courted through buyout offers that fell far below what the site was worth. He had his domain name stolen by someone who claimed to be a friend and turned out to be a rival…literally. He’s received hate mail and death threats from banned posters.
Nevertheless, ClutchFans has become one of the single largest and most influential sports fan wesites on the internet. It is consistently used by media, the league and the team to glean information, come up with story ideas, sift through rumors, promote events and generally stir up the fans.
Clutch actually created from scratch all of the code on the front page of the site. He customized and developed features that took hundreds of hours. He is responsible for the web’s original Lotto Generator and Mock Draft Madness features, both of which have been copied (in many cases, badly) by huge commercial sites like ESPN.com.
And he did it all on his dime and, more impressively, his time. Only when server costs became to the point that it was really beyond his ability to afford it did he decide, very reluctantly and with much prodding from many of us, to put a tip jar on the site and require donations for a board that is quickly closing in on 20,000 members – a board that consistently stretches the limits of the dedicated server it occupies.
There have been many times I’ve spoken with him on the phone in the morning only to find out he had not slept because there was a problem with the BBS or because he was trying to finish off a new feature. He still gets excited and humbled when invited to participate in things like training camp, despite being as important a member of the media as anyone.
I, personally, have gained a tremendous amount of joy, knowledge and friendship as the result of this site. This site is responsible for many of my friends, the business I share with Clutch and, like everyone else, endless sleepless nights combing the board for information on trades, free agents and information on my favorite team.
For Clutch, this site is his passion. For me, I’m just proud to have been a small part of it and even more proud to call Clutch my friend.