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Media for Dummies

By on July 3, 2010

There’s a lot of buzz as free agency begins about this trade or that signing or this or that rumor.  There’s also a lot of criticism of jumping-the-gun-scoops foiled by second-thinking, changes of heart, misinformation, and, well, just flat-out wrong reports.  So here at the Hype, we’re going to help y’all wade through it.  Writers, by their nature, are good with words.  Readers, by nature, read too fast and, as a result, often miss certain nuances.  Also, for those of you with too little time, sometimes scanning the headlines is the way you roll.  One problem with that is the editor often writes the headline, not the author; in either case, the by-line can be confusing.  Seeing as how we’re a Hornets blog, let’s use some New Orleans examples.

July 2, 2010, headline on page D-1 of the Times Picayune: “I Want to Win Now.”  Subtitle: “Once again, Chris Paul reiterates his desire for the Hornets to step up their efforts to build a contender in New Orleans.”  Implication: improve now or trade me.  In fact, the connecting headline on D-4 is: “Trade rumors continue to swirl.”  Lesson #1: context.  When did CP3 say these things?  What were the questions?  In this instance, the key comment comes on the 3rd paragraph of column 2 on D-4, “I love everything about the city, but at the end of the day, I want to win.  I don’t want to win years from now.  I want to win many, many championships here, but I just want to make sure we are committed to winning.”  Funny how the headline “CP3 Wants to Win Many Championships in Nola” wasn’t used.  Simple.  That’s not the story this reporter/editor/news outlet wanted to sell you.  The problem by crafting a story is that it gets carried to other outlets, and like a game of telephone, suddenly, it’s all about CP wanting to get traded, which, if you didn’t know better, you would never know is nothing remotely connected to reality.

Readers also need to beware ellipses and brackets.  This allows an author to omit or ostensibly change words to provide clarification.  It can also allow the author to push their own agenda by selectively picking and choosing what to include in their article.  Check out how the above quote from CP3 could have been printed: “At the end of the day, I want to win…are [we] committed to winning”?  Now, I stretched the bracket a bit, but this makes a point.  Is he worried that New Orleans is committed to winning, or wanting to win many championships here?”  Depends upon how you quote him.  Also, watch out for really short quotes.  Movie ads like to do this.  ”Fantastic” says so and so.  Well, what if the full quote was “fantastic special effects, but horrible acting, and no plot whatsoever.”  Did that critic really mean the movie was “fantastic”?  Hardly.

Consider this video from WDSU’s @FletcherMackel over at http://www.wdsu.com/video/24122619/index.html.  Is the first question asked live or dubbed back in?  It’s unclear.  As for many of Chris’ other answers, you can’t hear the questions, or they are edited out.  By the way, the part about CP3 welcoming any of the League’s talented free agents to New Orleans with open arms?  That quote didn’t make the Times Pic (although several of these other quotes did, so its reporters were obviously there at the same time as Mackel).  Instead, the Times Pic ends with a quote from CP’s dad about his son just wanting to win.  My point is that if you don’t know the question, how can you contextualize the answer?  Theoretically, if Mackel could have asked CP3 the following question: “If a small asteroid hit New Orleans and totally wiped it out, would you demand a trade?”  CP laughs, and answers: “Yes.”  Next day’s headline: “CP considers demanding trade.”  A lie?  No.  Misleading?  Yes.  The context wasn’t made clear.  And no media-folks, if the asteroid question is buried in the second last sentence of the article, on the back page, you don’t win any kudos.  You’re still trying to fool people and your integrity is suspect.

Now, back to the Times Pic, and considering all the above, the second Hornets’ article on D-1 is entitled: “Paul, N.O. still not on same page is alarming.”  Wow.  So Chris wants to win.  Stop the presses.  But did I miss the article where the Hornets’ management said they didn’t want to win?  (Actually the other article on D-1 cited Shinn’s statement that Nola is “committed to building a winner around Paul, but, of course, as continued on page D-4.)  Listen folks, there is this thing called the salary cap, all right?  New Orleans, like many talented teams, cannot bring in a max contract player, or even close (they can’t offer more than the mid-level exception, about $5.6 mil).  But this doesn’t mean that the brass aren’t looking to see who is available once the big names ink, or that they’re not thinking of trades to be made.  But, listen, these trades aren’t going to happen until the free agency mess happens, okay?  And of all people, Bower is not about to give away what’s in his head.  Any way, back to the article.  This piece of shit was written by notorious curmudgeon John Deshazier, and opens by saying that Paul’s comments reiterated his claim last week that he was “open to a trade” if the Hornets couldn’t move into the ranks of the NBA’s elite teams.  Where to start?  Nothing in any article or video that I have seen from CP’s golf tournament (where these interviews were conducted) referenced an interest in being traded.  To the contrary, CP said he wanted to win here.  Fact check, Deshazier.  I guess this is a good time to start discussing language use.  Line return.

Chris Paul “open to being traded.”  Open to?  Does he “want” to be traded?  Is he “looking” to be traded?  ”Demanding” a trade?  No, no, and no.  Look, any contextual analysis will tell you that Chris was asked if Nola was not a winner, and wasn’t looking like a winner in the next two years, would he be open to a trade?  His answer: yes.  So every reporter blows up the things with the boxes and wires and electricity connected and puts in the binary codes to spit to the world: “CP Open to Trade.”  All of this ignores the fact that this quote was prefaced by Chris saying: “My first choice is to be in New Orleans.”  Why wasn’t that the headline?  No.  Instead, for days, ESPN headlines were in the sidebar, speaking of a “frustrated” CP3.  But again, has he asked for out, or just asked for help?  Big difference.  And would even Nola fans want him to be content with losing or missing the Playoffs?  Of course not.  But instead of being cast as one of the Paul Pierce or Kobe Bryant types, who will build their teams into champions, the implication is that he’ll be a Tracy McGrady or Vince Carter type, and just pout and “want to win” while not really meaning it.  Why?  Because media types get the subliminal jealousy most people have of those that are more successful than them, and are always looking to tear others down.  But the media only gets half the rib for that; too many readers live for it.  The worst is when anyone with a pen who falls into the latter category claims to be someone in the former.  Case in point.
Some sites, like Fanhouse, have gone so far as to report: “Chris Paul Trade Rumors Could Be the Next Talk of the Town.” Excepts: “team on the decline…bleak organizational outlook…’[Paul's frustration] is very real, very real’ said a source close to Paul.”  Okay.  First of all, they put their own spin on his “frustration” by prefacing the quote by saying the team is headed downhill with no future.  First of all, it’s called health.  People forget how many games our starters have missed over the last two years.  No NBA team with CP3-West-Peja healthy will miss the playoffs.  Take that to the bank.  Second, note how “Paul’s frustration” is in brackets.  Was “frustration” the thing being discussed explicitly, or was it inferred by the author?  Was it even Paul’s “frustration” or someone in his crew talking about him?  We’ll never know. Third, “said a source close to Paul.”  Fuck the media and their sources, man.  Seriously.  I get it, kind of.  But what does that mean?  His girlfriend, his trainer, his chef, the team waterboy?  It could be any of them.  Just watch how such “sources” are described; it’s telling.  No doubt, some are legit, but, really, take it with a grain of salt.  Then, continuing the article’s theme of gloom and doom, the piece continues: “and his general Manager (Jeff Bower) is now reportedly hoping for an exit of his own to New Jersey.”  This assertion is linked to a Nola.com article.  Go ahead and read it.  The exact phrase from the cited piece is: “Bower, who is under consideration for the New Jersey Nets’ general manager job, was out of town Friday.”  That’s it.  How the hell did Fanhouse get to Bower is “hoping for an exit” from that?  Because it has a pre-written story, an agenda, that it wants to sell.  Moreover, look closely at the next words: “an exit of his own.”  The final words again imply that Bower’s escape is in addition to CP hoping for an escape.  Ridiculous, and unsubstantiated.

Listen, these CP3 rumors started because teams told reporters they were calling Bower about Chris Paul trades.  Really?  Duh.  BREAKING NEWS: every team wants CP3.  Give me a break.  And then, Bower, always playing his cards close to his vest, simply said he was “having a dialogue with other teams concerning ‘all of our players.’”  Wow.  So your job, as GM, is to make and take these calls, and you in fact did you job, which probably involved telling teams like New Jersey that if they gave up Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, and four first round picks, you’d think about it, and then (unsurprisingly) not getting a call back.  Of course Bower makes and takes those calls.  That’s his job.  So why are surprised that he “had a dialogue” with other teams about Chris Paul?  What does having a dialogue mean?  It could have meant, “hey, we’ll swap Harris for Paul.”  [Pause]  ”Fuck off.”  [Click]  You know?

So, please, people, watch the words.  Anything like “might”, “probably”, “considering”, “talked about”, mean just about nothing.  Nothing.  Writers hide behind these words.  Writers craft their own stories around these words, rather than writing about the story there is.  But in today’s quasi-celebrity world where just being yourself, just having your job, isn’t good enough; no, everyone needs to be famous.  Like certain owners.  Like certain refs.  People that can’t just keep the spotlight where it belongs: on the game and the players that bring it to us. The media, more and more, is guilty of this.  They are no longer content to report the news.  They want to be the news.  They want to see their name under the big, juicy headline: “Chris Paul Demands Trade.”  But Chris isn’t saying that, and they can’t stretch things that far.  Which is why the national media frenzied over this story last week before free agency begin and, now, only the Nola media is running with the new quotes.  They were just bored, so they invented a story.  Readers, beware.  They’re trying to sell you on their story.  Their answers.

Find your own truths.

Hat tip to @LSUHornet17 for the link to this radio interview on WIST 690 AM by Hornets President Hugh Weber. He addresses Chris Paul and the ownership transfer, and he does it much better than the official statement from George Shinn did yesterday.

I definitely recommend you check it out.

I would listen to it again and transcribe the interesting bits, but I was so annoyed by the chunk in the middle where he blames the Chris Paul rumors on “bloggers in the basement in their pajamas writing at midnight” that I can’t bring myself to. In fact, you can expect a scathing post in response when the draft is over.

Mr. Weber, I went to war for this team yesterday on Twitter. Both At the Hive and Hornets 247 cover your team with a depth of statistical knowledge that vastly, vastly surpasses both the local paper and the mainstream national sports media. Who, by the way, were 100% responsible for the creation and perpetuation of the Chris Paul rumors that, if you bothered to look at all, your local bloggers were savvy enough to scoff at immediately. I know all this “new media” is scary, but we’re not your enemy. And we certainly know your team better than Chad Ford and Bill freaking Simmons.

I’m sorry you don’t know it.

So I kind of lost it this afternoon. Although I should note that the thing that sent me over the edge, a throwaway reference in this post to “all that stuff with Katrina” in the list of reasons why Chris Paul would want to leave New Orleans, has since been removed by the author. And he apologized for it. Which is greatly appreciated, since Katrina a) happened before Chris Paul ever played in the NBA, and b) doesn’t really have anything to do with the failure of George Shinn to build the Hornets into a winner in the last 25 years. But I think I am going to post my Twitter rant anyway, to preserve it for history’s sake. I wasn’t exaggerating about most of the things I said.

Um. You should be aware that this rant contains profanity, much of it of the FYYFF variety (for those who aren’t aware of the reference).

I fucking hate people. RT @LSUhornet17: So now CP wants to leave b/c of Hurricane Katrina 5 years ago. Awesome bit of journalism right there

“All that stuff with Katrina” … I don’t know what article @LSUhornet17 is reading but I am so angry I can’t see straight. Fuck you.

You thought that was me angry before? No. THIS IS ANGRY.

I am on the verge of a rant after which no one will be left alive, in the post-apocalyptic dustballs-blowing bombed-out landscape of DEATH

I guess Katrina prevented the Saints from being champions. I guess Katrina means we don’t deserve to watch sports like the rest of the US

Never mind that Katrina happened before Chris Paul played a single minute of NBA basketball.

To some of us Katrina is more than a throwaway line or a card you toss out to be CUTE and get traffic. Shame shame shame and fuck you.

[ half an hour later] I’ll have you know I was NOT finished. My blackberry died.

I am not OK with people who make a living out of being abstract, edgy, and “conscious” when it suits them….

… yet can throw out a line like “all that Katrina stuff” glibly. It smacks of hipster douchiness to me. Re: Shoals’ Fanhouse post.

And it’s all about the individual now, about ourselves? A team can’t mean something? Just a player’s “Greatness”

If this is what comes of “liberated fandom” someone f-ed up. By all accounts the guys on that 07-08 team LOVED being part of something

The Saints LOVED being a part of something. And there was ESPN every step of the way shitting on them like a massive big-market circle jerk

Whoever sent me the Chad Ford thing just now? He can fuck himself too. “Any franchise that considers trading CP should be contracted…” [It turns out Bill Simmons was involved in this epic douchery too. Imagine my not-surprise.]

Well no fucking shit. So wait. You start a rumor. You perpetuate a rumor. And then you shit on a team for what YOU did/said. CIRCLE. JERK.

But yeah, let’s ask the Saints how “all that Katrina stuff” (In this day & age. In an actual legit post. Jesus Christ) ruined their careers

Me, me, me. Y’all want Chris Paul to be another LeBron? Is that it? A guy who by all accounts LOVES volunteering in this city & being part of the recovery?

Is that what you want? Would that make you happy? Really? Really?

I mean, do what makes you happy. For “art”. Well, art without context is just fucking paint, Shoals.

THAT’S why I hate LeBron. Because his chance to mean something, to transcend, *is* Cleveland. And he’s too blind to see it.

Maybe I’m a little emotional right now. Coming from writing this http://bit.ly/c1mjoM a couple days ago to “All that Katrina stuff.”

But god DAMN, I watch sports because of the chance it has to be more. The chance a player has to be more. And you all are making it cheap.

And I guess that’s all I have to say.

Hissssssssssssssssssssssss. (That wasn’t anything. That was just me hissing wordlessly at the people I am telling to f themselves.)

I wrote Chad Ford a letter saying all the cool NBA people think ESPN is not viable as a station. Everyone who knows ANYTHING knows it. [This is in reference to the transcript linked above in which he said "I've had a lot of NBA guys tell me there's no way a pro team can thrive in New Orleans"]

I would reply to more people, but being a part of the larger stream of humanity other than myself and my money RUINS MY GREATNESS.

So yeah. Do me a favor. If anyone else writes or says anything on TV about how New Orleans isn’t deserving of Chris Paul’s greatness, just… don’t… tell… me.

Should that even be the question?  How about “to watch the games or not to watch the games?”  Like the Hornets themselves, I’m not originally from New Orleans.  That means, I loved the NBA before I loved the Hornets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Hornets now and am die-hard, or else I wouldn’t even be here writing this. But my question is, with our team out of the Playoffs, what should our role as Hornets fans be?  I think it’s still to watch the games that remain.

Sure, I really appreciate what atthehive.com and hornets247.com are doing; both blogs are doing great speculative analysis of what the Hornets should do, which coaches they should go after, analyzing what went wrong with this season, and what the team’s needs are for the upcoming draft.  Of course, the media, never failing to miss the point, is focused on manufactured storylines more than actual play, and is too busy crafting headlines like “As Celtics eliminate Cavs, all eyes turn to James.”  Thanks Times Pic.  Listen, let me start with the easy one.  I don’t care about Lebron James.  Seriously.  If he ends up playing with Josh Childress and Linus Kleiza for Olympiakos for $50 a year so he can become a “global icon” and billionaire by 32, sweet.  Seriously. And Nike, what, do you not have a bloody, Steve Nash muppet?

Fuck all that.  This is the time of year when only the best of the best remain, and this year that doesn’t include the Hornets or the Cavs.  So while I’m always one to hype the Hornets, and glad other people are talking about what our team should do, I can’t care too much myself because I’ve been so focused on watching great Playoff basketball.  Hopefully the Hornets are watching too, because it should be making them antsy to know that this is what they want to achieve, and that they have a lot of hard work to do to get there.

Until then folks, enjoy the real final four.  Laissez les bons balles rouler.

I thought I had pretty much poured out my soul this week on the topic of female NBA fans. And then someone pointed me in the direction of the “Body Shots” contest the Memphis Grizzlies official site was running this week in advance of the NBA Dance Bracket. I’m really glad they did. Let me tell you what this “contest” is. It’s this:

[More]

I Know, I Know

By on March 17, 2010

If this blog posts any more stuff about Marcus Thornton you’re going to get me a restraining order.

But.

I had to:

Marcus Thornton on front page of ESPN.com

Is this when you know you've made it?

Of course, I didn’t read the article because it’s Insider only. But we all know the article is not important!! (But if you want to know what they said about him & Collison, Hornets 247 has an excerpt…)

When Trying Isn’t Enough

By on March 15, 2010

Kelly Dwyer on Ball Don’t Lie:

These guys are really, truly, giving great effort. Jeff Bower has been the coach of the Hornets for about four months, and he’s had Chris Paul(notes) on hand for less than half that time, and yet he’s had this team playing .500 ball in the West. It’s a phenomenal accomplishment, because more than any other team with any other player, the ball really rolls right off the table once you take Paul away. Bruce Sutter-styled dropoff, my man.

But the Hornets worked their way back. These two rookies are unflappable, Darren Collison(notes) might be a bit excitable, but Marcus Thornton(notes) is as cool as … geez, don’t touch that! That’s freezing. Damn.

When are we going to start considering this kid for the Sixth Man Award?

And speaking of dropoff, after Collison, on the Hornet bench? Darius Songaila(notes), and Aaron Gray(notes). Every opposing announcing duo laughs at Gray when he comes off the bench. Seriously. Every one.

The Hornets are always there, though. So much respect for this team. Give ‘em a watch if you can.

I’m really glad someone else (besides our little band of Hornets fans) sees this. I know we’ve lost, what, eight out of the last ten, and it’s hard to get used to the losing. But damned if I’m not having so much more fun watching this team lose than watching last year’s group of disappointed vets. I’m now truly at the point where Thornton and Collison are worth the price of admission, and don’t look now but David West has actually done a pretty good job leading this team lately.

Marcus Buckets gettin more buckets

Marcus Buckets gettin more buckets

6th Man of the Year, though? I’m happy someone brought this up, although just like the rookie honors, I think we can blame Byron Scott for blowing Thornton’s chances early. From every indication, from LSU to summer league (led all rookies in scoring) to preseason (outplayed Devin Brown and Morris Peterson yet unfairly was the guy starting the year in a suit), he could have been doing this all along for the Hornets given the opportunity. However. For your consideration:

Buckets Post-All Star Break

30 minutes
21.5 points

4.2 rebounds

47.2% shooting … FROM THREE
48.5% overall

1.5 assists, 1.5 TOs, 1.1 steals
All off the bench

I think I speak for us all when I say, “Eeep.”

Wednesday Linkz

By on January 27, 2010

The Hornets May Have Won the Battle But Lost the War– a post on the Dime blog about the Hornets salary moves. With input from me, Hornets 247, and At the Hive. Oh, and Bonus!Ranty Comments by me, I guess. Sorry about that. This is one of my very favorite topics for ranting, as you well know. But props to Dime. Noticed how they went and actually asked Hornets media & blogs. Amazing concept, that.

New Orleans rookie Marcus Thornton seizing the moment– According to the TP, there are rumors (which he denies) that Marcus Thornton told some kids at LSU over the summer he’d be starting by midseason. Ha. I said so too. Guess we’re both right.

Buckets doesn’t make the Rookie Team — kinda lame but not surprising. He’s averaging 9.7 pts-2 rebs on 43% shooting in 19 minutes, way less than the minutes some of those kids are getting to put up their numbers. I wasn’t that impressed with either Flynn or Curry (ugh, watch me say that and he goes off on us tonight, haha). I mean, you can’t really argue with any of the rookies who made it, but I will say it’s too bad Byron Scott hurt Thornton’s chances by not playing him early. I wonder, though, if it’s harder to make a team like this as a pure scorer– even a very efficient one– when you’re not putting up significant numbers in any other categories. All those point guards have numbers in the assists column too. Marcus’ stats per 36 are 18.2 pts-3.7 rebs– some of those other kids already play 36 and aren’t close to that.

But! He’s #5 in the NBA.com Rookie Rankings this week! — Go figure.

This column from Mark Monteith at SI.com fails so hard at containing real facts (especially Okafor versus Chandler) and following a chronological timeline of what actually went down that it made me weep tears of pure sarcasm. Or wait, is that not possible? Try to spot the two places he  contradicts himself. Let’s make it a fun game!

And so do we, of course. I mean, we always have. It took me exactly one preseason game to become Marcus Thornton’s biggest internet fan. This kid is just flat out making this season fun to watch for me. But Lil Buckets got a lil press this week. Hoopsworld did a piece on him for their Life As A Rookie feature. Some quotes:

“I feel like I have to work harder than everybody else – go above and beyond what everybody else is doing – to maintain this role and not lose it.” – Marcus Thornton

“Thornton is a deadly shooter. He can really heat it up. I’ve seen him in one game get 32 and make like 5 threes.” – Tyreke Evans

He was also featured in this morning’s Times Picayune:

“He’s more than just a shooter, and we try to remind him of that. He can slash. He can get to the basket. He’s unbelievably athletic. We want him to show the world that. Don’t just show us that. Show everybody else that.” – Chris Paul

Thornton on busting out of his weeklong shooting slump last Friday night:  “That’s one of the things I’ve had to work on, if my shot is not going, to work on the other aspects of the game like rebounding, cutting to the goal, getting easy buckets so that my offense starts to generate. Once I started doing that (against the Kings) everything started flowing.”

Higher & higher, Buckets. We believe in you!

I’m sorry, did I miss something?

A screenshot of ESPN's front page last November

A screenshot of ESPN's front page last November

I thought Chris Paul hated Byron Scott. I thought this had been established. Like, mainstream established. I mean, I saw it on ESPN. They’ve been mentioning something about it every third day since last November. But then I get up and here are all these articles saying he’s terribly upset over Scott’s firing.

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE, PEOPLE?

Previously, on Lifestyles of a Small Market Team With a Top 5 Star Who Everyone Thinks Is Being Wasted In a Small City and Oh My God It’s So Horrible How Dare They Want a Star? Who Do They Think They Are, New York? … Bill Simmons went to a Clippers game in November 2008 and wrote his usual sports humor column. I’ll excerpt the relevant parts:

“The way players walk toward the bench after a timeout. (Goes one of three ways: “I’m interested to hear coach’s thoughts,” “I look forward to sitting down” or “Great, I get to listen to this bonehead again.”) How fast someone jumps up when the coach calls for them as a sub. (If they jump up fast, that means they’re totally in the game; if they jump up slow, that means they were either daydreaming about that night’s sexual conquest or imagining he’s punching the coach in the face.) Whether they listen or don’t listen in the huddle. The body language of the coach himself. And the telltale sign … what happens when a top player gets called over by coach when someone is shooting free throws.This can unfold one of three ways:

A. Player runs over respectfully and seems genuinely interested in the coach’s wisdom. Watch what happens when Popovich calls over Duncan or Parker in a Spurs game. Total respect. They look like someone jogging over to a police officer.

B. Player jogs over, doesn’t seem totally interested, but doesn’t want to seem like a jerk either. This usually sums up 75 percent of the league.

C. Player does a double-take and his head kicks back briefly (like he’s thinking, “Really, I have to talk to this guy again???”). He saunters over disdainfully. When he reaches the coach, he makes eye contact for the first two seconds, then starts subconsciously pulling away (first with his eyes, then with his body leaning back toward the coach), and at about the six-second mark, he just starts walking back toward the court whether the coach is finished talking or not. Everything about the exchange says, “I’ve just had it with this freaking guy.”

I mistakenly believed that Chris Paul and Scott had an “A” relationship but in the second half of Monday’s game, it was revealed that they were a “C.” At least right now. Translation: I am no longer sold on the 2009 Hornets.”

Basically, Simmons thought the Hornets as a team were in trouble– which turned out to be true– way back in the beginning of last season. I am back and forth on this. He went to one game, didn’t talk to any of the players, and just looked at body language. As a bench-watcher myself, I get that. I sit close enough to the Hornets bench (I’m not saying I sit low down, but I do sit on that end of the arena) that I can see who interacts with who, but unlike Bill Simmons, I see them for 41+ games a year. What he neglected to mention in his column, for instance, is that the game in question was at Staples Center back when the Clippers were abysmal and the Hornets were expected to contend in the Western Conference. The Hornets ended up winning that game, but they were down by around ten points for a big chunk of it, and understandably pissed about it. Simmons skipped over that part. That Byron Scott, by the end, had maybe lost David West and some of the Hornets is true. But it seems he never lost Chris Paul.

For his part, when this Simmons thing took off like wildfire through the articles and blogs, Chris Paul even came right out and told the media it wasn’t true. “I would think me and coach might have one of the best relationships out of the entire NBA. I guess people got to have something to talk about. Maybe he should come to a game. Let’s talk. If I had a problem with coach, I’d say it. I guess he comes to one game, and he can figure it out.” But of course, no mainstream media outlets ran with that story. It stayed buried halfway back in the sports pages of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Let’s be crystal clear here. My issue is not that Bill Simmons wrote an opinion column. My issue is that every mainstream media outlet and their mother, brother, and sister ran with it. “Sources say Chris Paul and Byron Scott are not seeing eye to eye.” “Reports are that Byron Scott has lost Chris Paul.” “Amid reports of conflict between Byron Scott and his star player…” Etc. It was in the Daily Dime. It was in the NBA Rumors section of every site. It was thrown in as a little parenthetical aside in articles about the Hornets losing games. My problem with it then is still my problem with it today: Bill Simmons is a guy who writes a humorous internet column. What he is not … is a source.

It’s also the selectivity of the headlines and news items that pisses me off. Simmons’ column was about the Hornets team chemistry as a whole, and it asked the question of whether they were tuning out their coach. I didn’t think it was true at the time– that was very early in the season, and the team would make a few more good runs before the season ended in rescinded trade drama, injuries, and a devastating playoff loss. Plus for every instance of the Hornets not looking like they liked each other, I had 41+ instances, personally witnessed, that told me they did. But most of the reports that pushed along Simmons’ observation and misrepresented it as fact, like a bizarre game of media telephone, weren’t worried about the rest of the Hornets team chemistry. Instead they saw the words “CHRIS PAUL” and “BYRON SCOTT’ and salivated, like wolves lunging for scraps of meat.

And here’s, really, why I’m such a big supporter of fan blogs, social media, and beat writers. In this age of the internet, when firsthand information about every team, observed by people who actually watch the games, is right here in my blogroll and my twitter feed, why should I trust these national aggregators of “news” and “rumors”, citing their “sources”, to tell me what I should believe? I haven’t included ESPN, with the exception of True Hoop, as a daily read since spring of 2008. To me, they’re a dinosaur. Don’t even get me started on the Associated Press, which will quote a blog or a Twitter account and not even put a link to it. Me, I want a trail of hypertext leading back to my source. Scratch that, I don’t just want it– I demand it.

And so today you will see the same mainstream media giants, whose team preview for the 2009-10 Hornets probably included a snippet about “if the Hornets can overcome the rumblings of friction between Chris Paul and Byron Scott,”  pound out columns. How could the Hornets do this to Chris Paul, fire the coach who was his best friend and father figure without telling him? How can a franchise be so small-time and clueless? Not a single one of them will mention how wrong they were about any of this.

Dolla dolla bills, y’all.