Bill Simmons Tore Apart Wojnarowski’s Durant-To-Warriors Report
Today's sports media landscape is very distinctly divided into two sides: the entertainment side and the reporting side. We here at SportsGrid are aware that we aren't the ones breaking news. We know that our role in sports media is largely that of the commentator. We tell you what's going on, as reported by other outlets, and give it our own unique flavor and spin.
Unfortunately it seems that sports media guru Bill Simmons might've lost sight of where he fits in, and quite frankly, he's making himself look like a jerk in the process.
Back in February, Yahoo Sports NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a detailed piece about how the Golden State Warriors had a pitch to Kevin Durant that they'd been planning for months. In that article he noted that he viewed the Warriors as the frontrunners to sign the Oklahoma City Thunder star. He gleaned all of this information as one of, if not the most respected NBA reporter in the country.
It's obviously fair to be skeptical of a report made four months before free agency signings can even take place, but Wojnarowski is rarely wrong and is on the record as saying that he is okay with losing the opportunity to break a story if it means he gets the story right. It seems like Simmons may have missed that memo.
In his podcast that same week, Simmons and his regular guest, Joe House, completely ripped the piece as "one of the most ludicrous stories I’ve ever read.”
“(The Warriors) aren’t thinking about next year, they’re not thinking about Durant," said Simmons. "I think it’s absurd, I just don’t believe it.”
He also went on to suggest that the story was intended as some sort of clickbait to get traffic for his new website, The Vertical with Woj.
“I don’t believe one word of it,” House said.
“It’s complete conjecture, nonsense talk, motivated by interest in silly stories.”
Simmons either doesn't respect the work that Wojnarowski has put into his craft as a reporter, or he actually believes that he knows better, despite coming from the perspective of an entertainer rather than armed with the knowledge of a reporter. What makes this worse than anything is that Simmons himself has a proven track record of being the best in the business at what he's good at. I have always admired his career and his editorial work; and as a writer from Boston that now lives in Los Angeles, I consider us kindred spirits. I was a loyal Grantland reader and I listen to his podcast network on a regular basis.
That's why it's more than a little disillusioning to see him disparage the work of a guy that has done very little, if anything, to earn that kind of blatant disregard. It's important to have a spirited debate about these topics, and Simmons isn't wrong for being dubious of the prospect that Durant would actually land with the Warriors. Despite the fact that the rumors were substantial, the move was still shocking.
But regardless of the perceived likelihood back in February that Durant would sign with the Warriors, it's irresponsible and ignorant to dismiss such a credible source. Wojnarowski is more than capable of deciphering when he is being fed rhetoric from teams trying to mess with the free agency process. He's a consummate professional with deep ties to the offices and locker rooms of every team in the NBA. Even if Durant hadn't ended up in Golden State, Woj's piece on the recruitment process and the Warrior's intentions would still have held up.
If Simmons wants to participate in conversations about the realities of today's NBA, I recommend that he start trusting the people who are delivering the stories to us.
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