On NBA Free Agency

The disaster and chaos that is the NBA off season began in the last week or so.  ESPN decided a long time ago that its coverage of this period would consist of an endless barrage of tweets, whispers, and rumors from around the league.  This works not only because there’s only baseball to watch on television during the summer but also because sports fans no longer care about facts and information.  They would rather concern themselves with an infinite number of what-if conversations to fill the time between now and when football is back.  Trying to track it all can lead an individual into Ron Artest levels of insanity as it is seemingly impossible to tell where Free Agent X is going to land thanks to fans having to deal with the Insiders at ESPN leaking any and every rumor from their sources as well as the countless supply of fake twitter accounts popping up on the internet. 

This next part is difficult because no individual is any guiltier of the above crimes than any of the other dozens of writers leaking rumors on Twitter all day.  However, Chris Broussard is the best example of why this coverage is all kinds of tainted.  Broussard is known as ESPN’s go-to guy when it comes to NBA rumors, most especially when it comes to the big names in the sport.  His role has evolved well beyond the reporter role though as he was seen on ESPN’s studio show throughout the playoffs.  There he opined on the teams and players he objectively reports on behind the scenes.  This is somewhat of a conflict of interest.  But it gets better.

Yesterday after breaking details about the Joe Johnson trade, Broussard wrote the following,

Nets, of course, would’ve preferred to get Dwight, but Magic refused to engage in trade talks. Source: ‘They didn’t want to dance with us.’ 

He then followed right after by saying,

Source on Nets moving on from possibility of getting Dwight: “Dwight blew it in March” when he waived opt-out clause. 

One could infer that Broussard obviously has a well-placed source in the Brooklyn organization.  Nothing to see here, right?  Wrong.

This morning Broussard started a whole day’s worth of pointless conversations when he tweeted the following nugget,

Sources: The Nets & Magic are discussing a trade that would send Dwight Howard to Brooklyn for Briik Lopez [sic], Kris Humphies [sic], Marshon Brooks…

And then he wrote,

con’t) and the Nets’ first-round picks in 2012, 2014, 2016 & 2018….move would give Nets Big 3 of D-Will, Dwight & Joe Johnson.

This led Mike and Mike to immediately get him on the phone where they debated the topic of Dwight going to New Jersey despite the fact that Broussard, only six hours earlier, had said the Nets were extremely aware that they didn’t have enough assets to land Dwight Howard in a trade. 

While this source was likely an Orlando executive trying to let the market place know that Orlando was open for business, it was insulting for Broussard to waste everyone’s time with all of this rumor spreading when Dwight will NEVER land in New Jersey through a trade.  One expert on the CBA calculated that the Nets would need to figure out six separate sign-and-trade deals to make it possible for a Howard deal to go through which would easily be the most ever.  The possibility of this happening is worse than the Nets signing Chris Broussard as their point guard next year.

The whole extravaganza is bothersome.  For one, ESPN seemingly invents imaginary stories by allowing their reporters to be used as mediums for any rumor that a GM or agent feels like spreading that day.  The scary extension of this is the way they use their various platforms to then discuss and debate said rumors throughout the day, despite being aware of the fact that they’re being used by various organizations and agencies.  There is no doubt that it increases traffic to their website and television networks, but at what cost?  They are blatantly making money off of fake news. 

It’s no wonder that any number of fake twitter accounts now populate the internet spreading rumors under cleverly named accounts that mimic the actual reporters.  Several times in the past couple of weeks fans have been duped by links from people pretending to be Adrian Wojnarowski, Chris Broussard, and the rest of them.  While many are quick to realize the fabrications, is it really any different than what the actual reporters do on a day-to-day basis?