If you read my description of this blog site, you’ll see that I want to do my best to avoid hot takes, overly emotional pieces, and click bait. I also said that while I would try to avoid these, I couldn’t make any promises. So while I don’t think this to be of a face-melting temperature, I feel like I need to say this sooner rather than later: I don’t like ESPN basketball guru Bran Windhorst. I hate that he called out Steph Curry for bringing his hilarious and adorable daughter to his press conference. That was just plain lame. But mostly, I can’t stand his lazy reporting. Now these distasteful characteristics aren’t just unique to ol’ Windy, but being a Cavs’ fan and having him as THE premiere LeBron talking head (which ESPN has translated into their number one basketball insider), he seems to be the best manifestation of all the annoying attributes of professional reporters at the moment.
First of all, his annoyance over Steph Curry’s daughter at the podium with Steph a couple weeks back was just ridiculous. Obviously, Windhorst wasn’t the only person with this grumpy point of view of no kids at the podium. But when you have something in common with Skip Bayless, you may need to take a good, hard look at yourself. But we have jobs to do! This is unprofessional! I need answers to my questions more than that toddler needs family time! I guess Brian and others were afraid that they wouldn’t be able to hear the canned responses players give to canned questions over the sound of Riley’s yawns. She even gave you something to write (or hate write) about for a couple days. Get over it.
(Side note – props to Curry for bringing Riley right back to the interview table a couple nights later just to rub it in those miserable reporters’ faces.)
Brian Windhorst’s distaste for hilarious little kids is bad, but it doesn’t make him a bad reporter. What makes him a bad reporter is his lazy reporting. Last year, Chris Sheridan was the first to report that LeBron was coming home days before anyone else. Windhorst refused to make a prediction in relation to LeBron’s plans saying that it would be irresponsible. That’s fine. I can respect that if you don’t know for sure, don’t report. It’s just that Windhorst is supposed to be THE LeBron guy. Sheridan may have taken a wild stab in the dark as to where James was headed and got lucky, but based on his tweets afterwards, I’m guessing that wasn’t the case.
Even before The Decision 2.0, Windy reported that per his sources, Kyrie Irving hated Cleveland and didn’t want to resign with the Cavs. We all saw how that played out when he signed a max extension before LeBron decided to return to Cleveland.
During this previous season, he consistently reported that his sources were saying that the Cavs players hated coach David Blatt and LeBron even went to far as to change called plays on the court. When asked about this by someone other than Windhorst (after the story was already printed), both LeBron and Blatt said that changing the plays was indeed the case and it was the norm around the NBA. Their responses made so much basketball sense that it made me question Windhorst’s knowledge of how basketball actually works.
There have been countless other times where Windhorst’s sources give him juicy, dirty stories fit for plots of The O.C. Just after game one of the 2015 finals, Windhorst reported a rift / disagreement between how Kyrie Irving’s camp felt about his knee injury versus how the Cavs felt about his injury. It’s juicy and I’m sure has been viewed by readers millions of times because drama sells. There’s just one problem with this and all of these other reports: Windhorst refuses to go to the actual sources themselves before writing his stories.
You know who would have had great perspective on Kyrie Irving’s thoughts about Cleveland? Kyrie Irving.
You know who would have been valuable pieces of first-hand information regarding the Cavs and David Blatt? The Cavs and David Blatt.
You know who would probably know best about what’s going on with Irving’s knee and how he and the Cavs feel about the extent of the injury? Kyrie’s actual camp (Kyrie, his dad, his agent) and the Cavs’ doctors.
Now I won’t be naive and argue that Windhorst would have gotten the raw truth in any of these scenarios. Each of these people / groups would have given tempered, politically correct answers that could have amounted to nothing. I’m just upset with the fact that in not one of these scenarios did Windhorst attempt to get valuable information from the source. He got his hot story from his unnamed sources and rolled with what sold. It’s one thing if you’re an unpaid blogger / hack throwing unfounded opinions out there in hopes of getting noticed (ahem…). It’s something completely different if you’re ESPN’s premiere basketball guy with all the resources in the world to put a well-researched report together but you still refuse to do it.