For those in the business of breaking news, there is no rush quite like the big scoop, and few people know that feeling more intimately than Shams Charania. Still just 29 years old, Charania has become a household name for hoops fans thanks to over a decade of writing, reporting, and building his two-million-strong Twitter following. In an industry of people who are always on, the industrious journalist—he’s the senior lead NBA insider for The Athletic and Stadium, and also co-hosts Run It Back on the cable network FanDuel TV—is arguably the most on.
By his own admission, he’s still figuring out the whole work-life balance thing. An absurd amount of screen time is an occupational hazard, especially at this time of year, when he becomes one of the main arbiters of basketball news. With the NBA trade deadline looming on February 8, GQ caught up with Charania just in time before he goes into his transaction cave.
What is the trade deadline like for you? Is there a big ramp-up from normal Shams to trade deadline Shams?
The build-up goes on well before trade deadline week. If you’re just waking up during trade deadline week and hoping for things to get hectic, it’s not going to work for you. That’s just not reality. Obviously, teams usually tend to make moves closer to the deadline. But all the prep and the leg work is done in the weeks and months before that. Understanding that helps me prepare going into it, and then during that week, there will probably be a little more screen time.
Everyone’s got a little bit more punctuality to them at that point, because everyone knows time is of the essence. Deadlines always spur activity. So, trade deadline week is definitely a busy week. Any given moment before February 8 at 3 pm eastern, you’re ready.
Is the trade deadline kind of your NBA Finals? Do you feel like you have a little more juice?
I think that’s fair! Deadline, draft, free agency: those are the major tentpole moments of the NBA calendar.
I wouldn’t say six cups. I have my standard one in the morning, usually one in the afternoon. But deadline time? That’s usually three or four. Never energy drinks. Mocha, cappuccino, something like that. But a lot of this is just adrenaline.
I don’t want to speak for the whole world here, but I think for people who know who you are and what you do, the most fascinating thing is your workload. As someone who’s always on, constantly talking to people and frequently breaking news, is the workload still crazy to you? Or have you gotten numb to it now?
For me, it’s always kind of been what it is. When I started in this industry—when I first set my mind to this in high school—I knew it would take a level of sacrifice, time commitment, dedication, discipline. I knew all of that going in. So, I don’t think it was ever like, Wow, this is too much. I was a writer when I started, trying to network, develop sources, and find my lane. If I wanted to interview a player or track down a story, I had to figure out how to get to that point.
Whereas now, it’s a lot of time management. Between video work and doing what I love—which is talking on the phone, communicating, talking to people, and writing—I’m still balancing everything out. In that way, it definitely feels different. But that’s also the normal, natural progression for me. The screen time thing gets a lot of attention, but to me that’s not crazy.