Silly Season

The “reporting” on NBA free agency is best understood as self-parody. It’s really nothing more than useless speculation, dressed up as “news,” as if Chris Broussard’s (or any other sports talking head’s) recent thoughts about where LeBron might or might not end up have any relationship to where LeBron might or might not actually end up. I mean, yes, I am sure one of Broussard’s theories about where LeBron is going to play next season will turn out to be true, though he could really cover his bases by telling us that he considers it extremely likely that the King will, in fact, be in the NBA when the new season tips.

My daughter and I sometimes joke about US magazine stories (which, yes, we both enjoy reading). They’ll pass along a rumor – like, say, that Lena Dunham has switched to drinking a new brand of coffee. They’ll hew closely to certain journalistic conventions for writing such pieces, using phrases like “a source close to Dunham,” “a pal of Dunham’s,” “those familiar with her coffee drinking habits say,” or “a barista who served Dunham coffee three years ago” to make it sound as if they’ve seriously investigated the issue so as to bring the reader fresh (and important) information. In other words, that this is real journalism, or is supposed to sound like real journalism, even if it’s really just a joke.

The typical reporting on NBA free agency is, I would say, perhaps half a step up from your standard US Magazine item.

Clearly there’s an appetite for this stuff and it serves the NBA’s business objective of becoming a year-round phenomenon, like the NFL. So kudos to those with a vested interest in the NBA for having achieved this purpose.

It’d be nice, though, if there were a little more analysis of the likely impact of players who’ve already signed on their new teams.  Or a serious attempt to consider whether Chris Bosh, for example, is a max player (the evidence strongly suggests he’s not).

On a related note, it was reported this week that, as of the end of the weekend, the Cleveland Cavaliers had removed from their official website the letter that owner Dan Gilbert wrote to the team’s fans in 2010, in the aftermath of LeBron’s decision to leave the club.

The newsworthiness of this report presumably lay in the fact that the Cavs were stepping up their pursuit of LeBron and, it was being widely “reported,” he was taking their overtures very seriously.

What I found most noteworthy about the report when I first heard it was that the Cavs had left the letter up on the site for four years. After all, it’s an utter embarrassment, doing nothing so much as illustrating what a jackass the owner is. As a reflection of Gilbert’s frustration in the immediate aftermath of the original DECISION, one could perhaps forgive the man an in-the-moment hissy fit. But to leave the letter in plain sight for four years? Yeesh.

In fairness, the Cavs claim that they thought the letter had been removed “years ago,” but due to a spike in traffic to the letter over the weekend, discovered it was still active on the site. Sources close to me say I am little dubious, but that’s their story.


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