The Loudest Media Voices on Kawhi Leonard Were All Wrong


A sane person looks at the NBA media free agency industrial complex and wonders if it’s all a house of cards based on very little fact aimed at filling time and putting eyeballs on the screen. If it were possible not be cynical headed into this year’s circus, the events of the past few weeks have changed all that.

Consider Kawhi Leonard, one of the best players in the NBA and one of the hardest to read. We were given countless updates on his decision-making process from those supposedly in the know. A strikingly small sliver involved anything that suggested the Los Angeles Clippers were going to be the fisherman to land the big fish.

Even Cris Carter, who teased an update that was essentially a non-update, leaned toward suggesting the Lakers on Friday — a day that began with him saying there’d be a decision only to have him say no decision would be made shortly before the actual decision.

Talk about a wild ride.

But Carter fared far better than two other insiders who tried to get the jump on Leonard. Carter’s Fox colleague, Chris Broussard, tweeted Thursday that the Clippers were out and it was between the Toronto Raptors and Lakers.

Jalen Rose had previously said there was a 99 percent chance Leonard was going to stay with Toronto.

In the wee hours of the morning, with the bombshell blast still reverberating in the air, Rose admitted he was quite wrong, which is something.

On the same day of Rose’s 99 percent information, Stephen A. Smith gloriously tried to float a “sources are telling me but I don’t know if it’s true” report that Leonard was headed to the Lakers. In retrospect, that did not prove to be the best journalism.

The point here isn’t simply to point to failures or dunk on the people who put this nonsense into the ecosystem. Relying on sources for information will always put reporters in a position where they could be wrong. It’s just to point out that all of this seemed relatively predictable.

Like, did anyone who consumed this stuff day in and day out — and there were millions of them — really believe that they were getting solid nutrition? Or were they willingly enjoying junk-food gossip because it tasted so good?

Fair or not, the rat race of NBA speculation is going to lump everyone outside of the top-tier newsbreakers together. Broussard, Rose, Carter, Stephen A., all failed to deliver the goods but for different reasons. There are varying degrees of wild goose chase at play here but all are guilty of bringing the public along for one.

One could make the argument that this is a victimless offense because the public loves to go on them.

Next year’s cycle will bring out the same characters playing the same games and it will all be gladly eaten up. No one will remember or care that the biggest NBA news came in the dark of night and was a true surprise.

This is the new normal where being wrong is still being right.