“I can remember back in middle school, I think it was 8th grade, my friends and I refreshing the RealGM site over and over waiting to see where T.J. Ford was traded.”
Achieving your dreams and aspirations can be a lifelong journey, and it is for most. However, some are blessed with the ability to persevere and work so diligently that their dreams are realized at a very early age.
Shams Charania is a 21 year old who fits the bill of the latter. That’s right, one of the league’s most relevant reporters is only a college junior. How you ask? Hard work and an unending drive to be the best. It sounds cliche and maybe it is, but that’s the story — Shams is outworking everyone and making a name for himself in the process.
Even more scary than the fact that Shams is only 21: He’s already got three years under his belt as a full-time, salaried reporter for RealGM.
“I grew up reading RealGM as a kid so this is an unbelievable learning experience for me. It’s amazing to be apart of one of the most credible basketball sites out there.”
Shams was a normal kid. He grew up in the Chicago area playing basketball, hanging out with friends and doing normal teenage things. Very early in his life, however, he realized he loved seeing news about breaking trades and transactions in his beloved sport of the NBA.
“I grew up looking up to guys like (Marc) Stein, (Marc) Spears and Woj,” Charania told U&M. “Now I’m working to keep up with them, and it’s surreal.”
Shams’ love for writing became abundantly clear early, too. He wrote for his high school newspaper and, at around age 17, he volunteered to write some features for RealGM — the golden goose of hoops sites as far as he could tell. “Early in my time there I wrote a lot of guest analysis pieces and features,” he said. “I was grinding everyday and I started making connections and honestly, it’s just expanded from there.”
RealGM noticed his potential early and offered him a full-time, salaried position at only 18. Since then, his following has grown and he’s been known to break report, after report, after report on Twitter, and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
“My focus is on my work and to just keep grinding, man. It’s a very competitive industry but to me it’s all about relationships. This is my third offseason reporting and I started with smaller names and now the names are bigger but my approach hasn’t changed at all.”
One thing is very clear as you talk with Shams — he’s focused on building relationships. The lifeblood of a reporter’s success are the relationships they have with agents, front office executives and other players around the league, and he has caught on to that fact very early. He’s a poised young man.
The maturity that oozes from him is the glaring takeaway I have from our brief time of interactions. He’s 21 years old and he started doing this at age 18. Do others have the work ethic to get the job done? Of course. But I think the maturity sets him apart. Take his Twitter for example — there is no bickering or back and forth with the everyday trolls most of us encounter. When asked about that, he was very succinct in his response: “People follow me for my reporting, not my opinions.”
The response kind of surprised me, but it’s the truth. There are plenty of reporters I follow on Twitter but don’t read when they write something. The two do not have to go hand in hand and it appears Shams is privy to that fact as well.
Shams has become the face of RealGM in his short four years with them, so I inquired about whether he gets noticed on his college campus. “Loyola Chicago is a big university, man. People I grew up with have taken notice but nobody else around school knows me in that capacity.”
Shams is a junior at Loyola University Chicago majoring in communications and journalism. Living in Chicago helps him stay connected as the city is a hotbed for basketball talent, and during the season he can be seen frequently at Bulls games. “I have to take advantage of living here because I have access to the Bulls, Bucks and even Pacers on some occasions,” he told me. “I’ll usually catch one or two games a week and then when playoffs start the travel is much more expansive.”
“I’m just out here trying to thrive and make my own lane. There’s something about writing that just appeals to me and I hope to be involved in that field for the rest of my life.”
While Shams isn’t on the level of Stein, Spears and Wojnarowski just yet, he’s got plenty of time to close the gap. One thing is for sure, though: Come NBA trade deadline, you need to have notifications for him just like you do the others.
It’s inevitable. He’s coming for that No. 1 spot, and it’s clear he won’t be denied.