If you can’t play for them, cover them. This is the mentality that Anthony Puccio has when it comes to the NBA. The Wantagh local has been extensively covering the Brooklyn Nets for the past five years, keeping fans and fellow NBA teams up to date on the happenings of the team. It all started with a love of basketball, a Microsoft Word document and an epiphany.
“I’ve had a lot of motivation in my life from circumstances that happened to me and my family,” said the 22-year-old. “My dad lost his job in 2008, my mom got sick and all of that happened when I was in eighth grade. Those instances motivated me as I got older…I wanted to figure out how to get my foot in the door doing something that I loved.”
Puccio, or “Pooch” as he is known to everyone, grew up playing basketball. At Jonas E. Salk Middle School, Puccio set scoring records for the most points in a game and points per season. He also played in AAU (The Amateur Athletic Union), as well as travel basketball, citing former teammates as current NBA players, including Detroit Pistons small forward Tobias Harris. With such a passion for the sport, Puccio knew he had to find a way to make it a career.
“Senior year, I delivered pizza boxes and one day it hit me: I watch every Nets game, so why not write about it?” said Puccio, who began doing his own analysis of the games on a Microsoft Word document. “I reached out to newspapers, editors and websites just asking for advice. Tom Lorenzo, my boss today, answered back saying that I was good and to just keep at it.”
One year after that email exchange, Puccio circled back to Lorenzo as a freshman at Nassau Community College. Lorenzo said he was inspired by Puccio’s persistence and offered him season credentials and a chance to cover the team.
“I think Anthony is an extremely talented and motivated individual,” said Lorenzo, who is the managing editor for NetsDaily.com. “He has the passion to make something special of himself, not using the struggles he’s had in his life as a crutch, but using it as motivation.”
Lorenzo noted how extremely important Puccio is to not only the NetsDaily brand but “in pushing the Brooklyn Nets brand in general.”
“The amount of time and effort he puts in to telling the team’s story—and maybe more importantly, the story of the individual players—goes beyond just reporting the news,” said Lorenzo.
“I’m at every game and practice depending on my school schedule and I have learned a lot from the older beat reporters when I first started, but now I have a good touch on where this team is headed,” said Puccio, who utilizes all social media platforms including Sound Cloud and Periscope (he has his own show) to deliver Nets news. “I feel more confident that I can help the fans get what they deserve and get access more than ever. It’s a rewarding feeling.”
Robert Windrem is an investigative reporter for NBC News Investigates and has also spent the past 14 years with NetsDaily.
“Pooch is indefatigable. I don’t mean hard-working…I mean you cannot wear him down, period,” said Windrem, citing the moment after the Nets traded for D’Angelo Russell, their big new star, last June. “Pooch went to the Big 3 tournament at Barclays, a tournament for mostly retired players. There was no Nets connection other that it was being played at Barclays. Who shows up at the game but Russell and three of his new teammates. Pooch went up to Russell, who was sitting courtside, introduced himself and got the first interview with a player every Nets fan wanted to know more about.”
Windrem also noted that Puccio has an enormous advantage others on the site don’t have—he played basketball.
“He understands the intricacies of the game,” said Windrem. “Players will trust him quicker than they will trust other writers, despite his youth, maybe because of it.”
Players have become friends off the court, coaches give him advice on how he can become a coach one day and he has the full support of his family, friends and community.
Puccio recalls putting a note in his phone the day he got offered the job. He still has that note, which not only reminds him of how happy he was in that moment, but keeps him humble, appreciating every opportunity that has been given to him.
“It is really cool growing up as a basketball fan and this whole experience is incredible,” he said. “If 12-year-old me heard what I was doing now, I would never believe it.”