Imagine going to bed at night and drifting off to sleep, dreaming that you are courtside, covering your favorite basketball team. While some people may awake the next morning to find that it was only a dream, for Anthony Puccio, it is an amazing reality. The Wantagh native 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 at such a young age,” 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, where he set scoring records for the most points in a game and points per season. He also played in AAU (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.
“In 11th grade, I woke up and figured that I should make a plan on what I wanted to do. Senior year, 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.
“He took a chance on me and now it’s five years later,” said Puccio, who now covers the Nets for SB Nation and Nets Daily and has an impressive Twitter following. He is set to graduate from St. Johns University in the spring.
“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. “It has helped me emerge as one of the most followed Nets beat reporters. I feel more confident that I can help the fans get what they deserve and get access more than ever.”
But Puccio does more than tweet. He covers the players and coaches, conducting full interviews before and after the game. He has also been on television, podcasts and radio, recently stopping by WFAN.
“The digital landscape has changed everything for me,” said Puccio, who plans on sticking with the Nets in a higher role after graduation. “I’ve been with them since I was 17. I would love to get into more broadcast television and media, but from a digital side.”
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.
“The support has been phenomenal. Everyone in town has been really cool and it’s nice to see the appreciation of what I do,” he said. “The Nets work ethic and how they handle things with class, graciousness and generosity really makes me feel at home.”
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.