Bethlehem Shoals

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Nathaniel "Bethlehem Shoals" Friedman, 2010

Bethlehem Shoals (born January 1, 1978) is the pen name of Nathaniel Friedman, a popular American journalist and sports blogger, specializing in U.S. and international basketball. He covers the NBA as the editor-in-chief of The Classical,[1] and as a contributor to both Bleacher Report and GQ. He is best known for co-founding the now-defunct blog 'Free Darko', which he founded in January 2005.[2] Shoals has written regularly on the NBA for McSweeney's,[3] AOL Fanhouse, Deadspin, and SLAM Magazine,[4] among others.


FreeDarko is Shoals's flagship project and remains his best-known work. Named in reference to NBA player Darko Milicic, the site has attained popularity among basketball fans, sports journalists, and even professional athletes like NBA star Gilbert Arenas. FreeDarko sees frequent citations in the mainstream media, including the ESPN column TrueHoop.[5]

In November 2008, Shoals and other writers for FreeDarko published a book with Bloomsbury Publishing, FreeDarko Presents... The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac.[6][7][8]

In November 2010, the second FreeDarko book, FreeDarko Presents: The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History, was released.[9]

The Classical[edit]

Shoals co-founded, edits, and writes for the sports site The Classical.

In August 2011 it was announced that Shoals would be heading a group of writers and editors looking to create a new longform sports website entitled The Classical. The site was described as a sports version of The Awl and its co-founders included Tom Scharpling of The Best Show on WFMU, Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, and Tim Marchman of Sports Illustrated among others. Shoals and co. looked to raise $50,000 through the crowdfunding site Kickstarter,[10] which would allow The Classical to operate for one year. The $50,000 goal was reached on September 18 and the funding drive ended on September 29.

Several staff writers covered the 2011 World Series for Deadspin and Deadspin currently features Classical articles semimonthly.[11]

On November 7 a Tumblr blog was set up as a preview. That blog is now home to "The Classical Art Annex," an online gallery showcasing original illustrations featured on the main site.[12]

On December 2, 2011, The Classical went live.

Other projects[edit]

In 2006, Shoals created Heaven and Here, a blog on the HBO show The Wire.[13]


External links[edit]