Saturday, July 17, 2010

Brian Windhorst > Adrian Wojnarowski

If you haven't read Adrian Wojnarowski's piece on LeBron's departure from Cleveland, I recommend that you do so.  Most of the information in it is stuff you probably already know if you've been paying attention, and it isn't especially well-written (it almost seems as if each paragraph was copied and pasted directly from the author's notebook with little regard for how each little tidbit fits into the larger frame of the article), but it perfectly illustrates two things:  Wojnarowski hates LeBron, and Cleveland should be eternally grateful for Brian Windhorst.

In regard to Wojnarowski's hatred of LeBron, this has been a recurring theme since at least Game 5 of the Boston series (which is when I started reading him regularly).  Ever since then (and perhaps before), Wojnarowski has been brutal towards LeBron.  Even this most recent piece, presented as an objective bit of investigative journalism, instead serves as testimony to the case Wojnarowski has been building against James for the past 2 months.  While I'm not suggesting the writer made anything up, I do think that he sought out sources who may have an axe to grind when it comes to LBJ, and may have embellished the severity of actual instances in order to cast a shadow on James. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending LeBron; I have heard enough first-hand accounts from various people in the Cleveland area about how dismissive he is towards the ordinary people making the events he attends happen, and there is video evidence of this dismissive behavior when he threw his warm up suit in a ball boy's face in the Chicago series.  (Also, he ripped the hearts out of a city and fan base that barely had any heart left to rip out, while probably ruining the Cavaliers franchise in the process.)  But to suggest that the Olympic committee actually considered kicking LeBron off the team due to his immaturity is impossible for me to believe.  There may have been some tension, and perhaps a sit-down of some kind did take place between Nike, James, and the Olympic executives and coaches, but there is absolutely no way James was ever in danger (for even a second) of being left in the US during the 2008 Beijing Games. 

Beyond the apparent embellishments, Wojnarowski also can't help himself from taking cheap shots at LeBron, such as when he makes it a point to highlight James's supposed short attention span during his account of the New Jersey Nets' and New York Knicks' pitches.  To simply relay the fact that LeBron told Jay-Z the Knicks' presentation was redundant following the Nets' would have sufficed; instead, Wojnarowski describes James as "drift[ing] in and out of focus" during New York's Power Point, an observation that was most likely made and passed along by a spurned Knicks official.  What is presented as an inside look at the biggest free agency decision in the history of sports instead comes off like a list of grievances Wojnarowski has against James illustrated through dubious examples of LeBron's narcissism and immaturity.

Contrast Wojnarowski's clumsy character assassination with Windhorst's account of how LeBron arrived at his decision.  For starters, Windhorst's article is exponentially more well written.  Each paragraph flows into the next, as if Windhorst actually put thought into the readers' enjoyment and ability to follow the narrative of his story, instead of just excreting a bunch of information onto the page as fast as he could.  Second, Windhorst details specific events, tying the behind-the-scenes happenings with more public and well-known displays (Michael Jordan & Pat Riley's dinner with LeBron leading to LeBron's number change, for example).  There are no personal attacks, or unnamed sources describing the character flaws in any of the parties involved.  Windhorst never injects the betrayal and confusion he must be feeling as the Cavs beat reporter and native of Akron who has literally witnessed LeBron James grow up.  Instead, he lets the facts speak for themselves, allowing the reader to draw whatever conclusions he or she wants, which is the essence of what journalism is supposed to be. 

On a recent podcast, Bill Simmons and one of his buddies supposed that if reporters like Brian Windhorst had been covering the buildup to the Iraq War, the US would have never engaged in it (since Windhorst would have uncovered the nonexistence of the WMDs).  While they were being somewhat facetious, I think they might be right.  Brian Windhorst is one of the finest reporters working in the United States today, regardless of the relative triviality of the topic he is covering.  And now that "King" James is gone, Windhorst has taken up the mantle of the native son rising above his cursed surroundings to national acclaim.  Let's just hope Mr. Windhorst doesn't have dinner with the editor of the Miami Herald anytime soon.            

1 comment:

  1. You obviously don't read a lot of Wojnarowski. That's just how he writes.

    Check out this article ripping the Orlando Magic.

    "From those knee-shaking free throws in Game 2, to a complete no-show in Game 3, Carter has played scared, scattered and soulless. Lewis hasn’t been much better."

    Ouch. I don't understand why he keeps getting quotes from people when he rips them this bad, but he does.