In 2020, as the sports media industry complex as a whole constantly distributes anonymity like its Halloween candy to agents and team leaders looking to push their chosen narrative to the back of their minds. a scoop tweet, the constant veil of secrecy without accountability has created an environment. where some content consumers have been conditioned to see someone who won’t put their name on something as believable as someone who says the same thing in broad daylight.
This is true in all forms of media, but especially in sports, something I’ve been thinking about a lot since my friend Basquiatball anonymously posted this on Twitter this morning:
I have the impression that on this platform, we tend to grant more authority to “Anonymous [Job Title] »That we would do it to these same sources if they were identified, which is quite the opposite
– Stentorien contrarien (@basquiatball) December 11, 2020
But aside from the jokes, it’s a reality that also struck me when I read a story by Sam Amick from The Athletic this morning, in which anonymous staff across the league were given a great platform to share their opinions. on the Lakers and Clippers. ‘offseasons without having their names attached. And since we don’t know who the opinion is coming from, we can’t judge the validity of the source beyond how much weight you place on the credibility that the level of their anonymous title lends. There is a name for it in philosophical terms: authority’s call to error.
In situations like this, we are left to let the basketball merits of these people’s comments speak for themselves, and as has been fully discussed in this article, it doesn’t always give much credit. in their opinion.
For example, take “Front office executive # 1” thoughts on the Lakers offseason, I emphasize:
“The Lakers have apparently improved. I’m afraid they lost JaVale McGee, because I thought he was pretty good for them. Yeah, he didn’t play at all during the bubble, practically. I don’t think they’re going to miss Dwight as much as people might think. So get Gasol – in the playoffs, this is where he should really help them just because he’ll be able to stand out on the perimeter, open up space for LeBron and AD to attack the rim. And he can hit that 3. The defenses must respect him. He can shoot. He can pass. So they got a lot better here. But I still think they’re going to miss the living body that JaVale McGee was – just some kind of energy.
To paraphrase philosopher and presidential candidate Kanye West:
But okay, let’s take this piece by piece. For starters, I think most of us would agree that “the Lakers have apparently improved”. Fewer people in this community are probably concerned about the loss of McGee, but let’s play devil’s advocate for a second. I actually think McGee could have helped this team. He started almost every game in the regular season and was a valuable big body to gain minutes so Anthony Davis didn’t have to play so much down center. It has value, although many fans have become frustrated with it.
What you can’t honestly believe – at least if you’ve watched the playoffs – is that the Lakers are going both mademoiselle McGee and don’t miss Howard much. Howard showed a lot more usefulness in the playoffs and was honestly the best player in the regular season, despite coming off the bench. It’s also cheaper, given the veteran’s one-year, $ 2.5 million minimum deal he made with the Philadelphia 76ers, that’s less than what McGee will be doing this year (4 , $ 2 million). But either you agree that a big body like a really big body to spell Marc Gasol and Anthony Davis like Howard and McGee would be something the Lakers are going to miss, or you don’t. It can’t be both.
However, this is not the only example of these leaders admitting that they have no idea what they are talking about. They are even more explicit about recognizing it only two paragraphs below.
Again, I emphasize:
“Montrezl is not suitable (for the Lakers). I don’t know how he fits into this team, but he will definitely help them in the regular season. But I do not know. It remains to be seen. I think the most important thing about Montrezl is that they took him from the Clippers, where he was productive. And he didn’t go anywhere else. But I don’t know exactly how it fits with them. He needs someone to spoon feed him, because he will lead the court and he will be active on the glass. He’s going to do all of that – perform the pick-and-roll high, dive into the basket, and finish up and be spoon-fed, so the spacing isn’t great. The Lakers don’t have a big gap. So I don’t know where he stands, but he will give them a chance to rest AD and LeBron during the regular season. During the playoffs, he probably won’t be as much of a factor.
Again, this is not all wrong. Most of us would probably agree that if your name isn’t LeBron James or Anthony Davis, you’re likely going to be less of a factor in the playoffs when those guys play a bigger role. What’s kinda funny, though – beyond that person saying to a) Harrell does not go then in the very next sentence saying that they b) i don’t know how he is and that he also goes help them in the regular season (???) despite not agreeing, then finish it by saying it’s all yet to be seen – does this person think Harrell “needs someone spoon-feed him” offensively.
To be fair, Harrell had more of his assisted (61.8%) than unassisted (38.2%) baskets in his sixth man season last year, according to NBA.com. . The only problem with using this as a review? Well, let’s let our old friend Coach Pete take this one:
“He needs someone to spoon feed him” is a basketball take that is simply wrong. He may very well have his.
And even if he needed it (he doesn’t)… we have LeBron James? Who is the better passer than anyone on the Clippers?
– Laker Cinema Room (@LakerFilmRoom) December 11, 2020
Ultimately, I understand why these people are not named, and this is not an attack on Amick’s work. These people were granted anonymity to speak candidly about other players and teams, which they could not officially do without incurring (at worst) fines for tampering and (at best) an inability to work with the teams / players they did. ‘they were criticizing again. It’s journalism that allows us to see how the Lakers are viewed within the league, which we wouldn’t otherwise realize. And the rest of the Lakers’ insider catches in his article are actually pretty reasonable!
However, while all of these folks work in the league, it’s funny that we tend to give their opinions more credence because they said so anonymously. Let’s just imagine for a second that, say, Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver talked about what the Lakers have been up to in the offseason. If he doesn’t tear up the team, would you care? Probably not. But when Front Office Executive No. 1 does it, all of a sudden we’re supposed to treat them like an expert? As if there aren’t bad opinions within the league, or bad leaders who build continually failing teams?
In the end, this last part is perhaps the most valuable to take away from all this for journalists. Not opinions themselves as a way to influence how we view the Lakers, but a reminder that authority doesn’t mean infallibility. As someone who’s had insanely stupid basketball over the years, I feel a lot better about myself that there are people who get paid seven figures to have them, too.
NBA Officers: They’re like us! Even the anonymous.
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