The year 2020 provided unique challenges for the sportswriting fraternity. With no live games to cover, writers and editors had to get creative with their content. As a result, it was little surprise that nine out of the ten most-read locally-produced articles on ESPN5.com in 2020 were features.
A little note, though, about the methodology used to determine this list. We only included content written by our local sportswriting crew in 2020. Had we included ALL articles on the ESPN platform, a UFC 254 piece, a Last Dance feature, and news on the death of ex-Portland Trailblazer Cliff Robinson would have crashed the top ten. We also didn't include two "My Favorite Matchup" pieces from 2018 which were re-published earlier in the year.
Here's our top 10, shown in order starting with the most-viewed:
Paolo Del Rosario compiled this list which quickly zoomed (2020 pun intended) to the top of the site. Content linking the PBA and NBA has always done well with readers, and this piece proved it. The list was updated more than once, as readers pointed out notable omissions a few times.
The nationwide lockdown was only in its second week when Charlie Cuna submitted this piece which touched on a PBA connection with the US NCAA. Michael Jordan's alma mater North Carolina had the most entrants in the list with four champion Tar Heels having played in the PBA over the last 20-something years.
The pandemic gave rise to vodcasts, many of which featured celebrity guests. One popular guest was PBA legend Allan Caidic, who appeared on an early episode of An Eternity of Basketball hosted by ESPN5.com's Charlie Cuna, Noel Zarate and Sid Ventura. Eros Villanueva listened in on the whole episode and carved out this piece about Caidic naming his favorite teammates and toughest opponent.
Another feature written off of an AEOB episode, this time by Richard Dy, on PBA great Abe King, whose openness and master storytelling made for a great yarn.
A third feature off of an AEOB episode clocks in at fifth spot. Penned by Eros Villanueva, it was about former NBA referee Jess Thompson who officiated during the golden age of the league and thus had several fascinating stories to tell about guys named Jordan, Bird, Magic and Dr. J.
The only news article to make the list unfortunately carried the tragic news about the shooting death of former MBA star Maui Huelar. Philip Matel broke the news in the early evening of April 16.
AEOB sure was a rich source of content in 2020. Richard Dy wrote about the episode featuring former U-Tex import Glenn McDonald, the first player to win championships in both the NBA and PBA, and who he thought were the best local stars in the Philippines.
One of the series we came up with during the lockdown was the Coaches' First Five, where we picked the five best players who played for certain PBA coaches. Paolo Del Rosario handled the first five of Norman Black, and it made the list at no. 8
Chuck Araneta took on Tim Cone's First Five edition, and although the guard spots were a lock, the frontline choices of Chuck made for an interesting read.
Another article series we did featured the six Grand Slam-winning teams in PBA history, and it was fitting that the most-read of the series featured perhaps the greatest team of all time, the 1983 Crispa Redmanizers. Richard Dy interviewed reserve guard Bai Cristobal about that magical year.