Michael Levin, Liberty Ballers original, becomes top fan


(From left to right it goes: Dave Rueter, Tanner Steidel, Mike Levin, Jordan Sam. Four of the original Liberty Ballers five, minus Derek Bodner)

Several years ago, Michael Levin offered Jake Pavorsky the opportunity to write for LibertyBallers.com, SBNation's Philadelphia 76ers blog. Now at 18 years old, Pavorsky has been promoted to managing editor. Pavorsky has also entered a team in The Basketball Tournament under the site's name. Levin not only help Pavorsky climb the journalism ranks, but also TBT's standings, as the Liberty Ballers' top fan.

TBT: So, not only did you give Jake Pavorsky the opportunity to write for Liberty Ballers, you are now also his biggest fan recruiter for TBT ... does Jake have dirt on you or something? 

Michael Levin:  Ha. Well, it's the Liberty Ballers team and Jake represents all of us, so I think we'd be embarrassed if we couldn't get the fan numbers up. The Sixers may be horrendous for now, but LB has a pretty decent following. Once the tourney starts, we're hoping people start to get into it. 

Also Jake is the only one of us with time to reach out to thousands of basketball players. Plus people trust him because he looks 11.

TBT: What were your initial thoughts when you first heard of TBT? And what did you think when you heard Jake was fielding a team?

ML: I was always 100 percent on board. As soon as Jake called to talk about it, I thought it was the perfect amount of ridiculous for LB to have its own basketball team with college guys from the past few years who many basketball fans may have forgotten about, but we adore. Ryan Brooks and Ryan Rossiter are still brought up regularly. Same with Antonio Pena and Reggie Redding. Those Siena teams left a mark on me and when Jake said these were the guys we're targeting, I was all in. That Cuse team looks mighty tough -- and I have family who went to SU so I'm conflicted -- but I really like our chances. Jake put together a fun, balanced team.

TBT: What has been your strategy for recruiting fans? What has worked? What hasn't?

ML: I've been tweeting about it and I know the other guys have also. We've had a couple posts about it as we've brought on new players, and I think we'll probably do a couple more as well. My podcast has also been a good way to talk to people about our team and hope they get on board. And then bugging friends and telling them to sign up. We want to be a force, so it takes a bunch of effort to get the word out.

TBT: Is this like a perfect storm of interest for you? The Sixers were terrible. Jake, your prodigy, is constructing the team. And he's constructing the team with players you remember watching and who have Philly connections.

ML: Yeah it's a nice thing to keep an eye on this offseason. Sixers fans are obviously geared up for the lottery and the NBA Draft, but having something local to root for -- backed by a great community at LB -- is I think pretty perfect for what we're going through. All that's left to do is win the damn thing.

TBT: How are you going to be able to keep up the fan recruiting with the Sixers' Draft Lottery/Draft coverage gearing up in the next few weeks?

ML: Slap it on the bottom of every post! "Sixers Might Take D'Angelo Russell BUT LOOK AT WHAT KENNY HASBROUCK'S DOING" -- that sort of thing. Eventually people will have no choice but to become a fan of us, lest they be ostracized from the whole community.

TBT: For a second let's just pretend it's August 2, Liberty Ballers just won TBT and you were the top fan. What are you going to do with $5,000?

ML: MAN. I guess we gotta have a party, right? I'd make Jake pay for most of it, but yeah, we'd have a Liberty Ballers party in Philly and I'd buy $5,000 worth of happy hour beers and wings. It'd be a hell of a time.

TBT: Would $5,000 make up for helping launch Jake's journalism career (or potentially front office career, based on how TBT goes for him)?

ML: Listen, I'd love for Jake to become a front office exec. Assuming he grants us full access to all front office happenings. Otherwise I'm exposing him for the fraud he is. (he's not a fraud, he's a lovely boy).

TBT: Given your interest (both basketball and financial) in the team, will we see you in Philly if/when LB qualifies. Also, what can we expect from a home crowd?

ML: I'll be back in Philly for the Liberty Ballers/Rights To Ricky Sanchez Lottery Party on Tuesday, May 19. But it's up in the air if I'll be able to see any Team LB action back east. Might try to make it to some of the games out here in Los Angeles, do a little scouting of the competition. We'll see. In terms of the crowd, I get the impression that we'd be the hometown team. We're a Sixers blog with mostly Philly players. People should come out and support us, get some of that heat going as we move onto the bigger stages. I'm expecting some fun.