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Why Anything Adrian Wojnarowski Writes About LeBron James Needs to be Ignored

Adrian Wojnarowski is an NBA reporter for Yahoo! Sports. He is one of the best information men in the business, frequently breaking stories before most other reporters. That makes him a valuable asset for Yahoo!, and an important person to follow on twitter. Seriously, just watch him and Marc J. Spears team up during the trade deadline and on draft day and watch the show. The information they uncover is impressive. Unfortunately, Wojnarowski is also allowed to write columns and cover games, and this is where one of his biggest weaknesses is on display.

There is not another prominent NBA writer with a more glaring anti-LeBron James agenda than Adrian Wojnarowski. He has demonstrated in his writing that his goal is to portray LeBron James negatively whenever possible, and there are serious consequences with that behavior that needs to be addressed.

It is one thing to dislike someone on a personal level and dissect their behavior off-the-court. Criticizing LeBron James for the way The Decision was executed is fair (something Woj did). In fact, it would be difficult to find someone who could defend it. But criticizing LeBron’s actual decision to leave Cleveland and saying it permanently ruined his legacy before he even played a game for Miami is unfair (here’s a lengthy explanation why).

It’s particularly unfair when a biased piece fueled by personal hatred ends up with over 16,000 facebook shares and 1,400 retweets. Criticizing LeBron’s play on the court because of a personal dislike based on what he does away from the court is not only unreasonable, it’s also irresponsible when you have a platform like Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski has nearly 85,000 followers on twitter. His work is featured on Yahoo! Sports which is one of the most heavily trafficked sports sections on the web. What he writes has the potential to reach the front page of Yahoo!, which is arguably the most visited site on a daily basis. When you have that power and reach, you have the responsibility to write more fairly.

If you are going to criticize LeBron James the way Wojnarowski does, it’s only fair to let your readers know you have a personal bias against him. Anyone who read Wojnarowski’s Game 3 recap would walk away having read lines like this “LeBron James has clearly come to terms with the fact he’s slowly, surely been reduced to the sidekick in these NBA Finals. … Only his coaches will go back and study the tape of his work on the defensive end, and ultimately James will have to find his most satisfaction, his most comfort, in victory.”

Does that sound like an accurate portrayal of the game? First off, the language is absurdly charged. Woj writes that LeBron has been “reduced to the sidekick.” That’s the angry way of saying “Dallas is double-teaming LeBron so he’s passing to the team’s other superstar, Dwyane Wade.” Then he says that only the coaches will go back and study the tape and find comfort in victory. No Adrian, you can tell that story. You can review the tape and explain that LeBron passed the ball throughout the fourth quarter because it was the smartest play for the Heat. Anyone who bothers to do that (as I did), saw that while LeBron missed shots and did not play spectacularly, he passed because it was the best move for the team. Any rational NBA fan will agree Dwyane Wade one-on-one against Jason Kidd is the higher-percentage play instead of LeBron James against two defenders, as he was for all but one possession in the fourth.

There were several other story lines to be pursued following Game 3 — Mario Chalmers making big threes, Chris Bosh making the winning shot with one eye, the excellent perimeter defense by the Heat — and all would have more accurately reflected the play of the game than a story about how LeBron James is a “sidekick.”

Calling LeBron James a sidekick for passing to one of the other best players in the NBA when he has a significantly better match up is the smart play by all standards, not a cowardly one. But biased writers like Adrian Wojnarowski choose to focus on bashing LeBron not because it’s accurate, but because it’s the story he wants to tell. That’s what I’m talking about when I say he has an anti-LeBron James agenda.

Why does Wojnarowski have such an anti-LeBron agenda? He’ll probably tell you it’s because of LeBron’s immature behavior for Team USA basketball; it’s a reference he’s cited in his writing. I don’t know how accurate or inaccurate those tales may be, but I do know they don’t have anything to do with the way LeBron has been playing. Sadly, Wojnarowski embarrassingly allows his hate to come through in his writing and topic selection.

Additionally, Wojnarowski likely has a bias against LeBron James because he’s not in “LeBron’s camp.” Several writers portray their sources in positive light and anyone else they can’t get inside information on either negatively, or evenly. Why is that? Because they rely on sources for information, and having exclusive information is what gives a reporter value. Four days before LeBron announced he was going to Miami, Wojnarowski wrote that LeBron had decided to stay in Cleveland. His inability to get coveted information on the most important player in the NBA no doubt contributes to his biased agenda.

Wojnarowski is an excellent writer. He writes quite well, composing excellent sentences with powerful language. He does it better than I do. The only weapon I have against him is the ability to make a good point with supported details. And my point is two fold: One, hopefully anyone reading this will understand that anything Wojnarowski writes about LeBron has an extreme negative bias and results in unfair judgments of his basketball game. Two, maybe the sports editors at Yahoo! can take this reality into account and do one of two things to achieve more fairness: curb Wojnarowski’s anti-LeBron agenda by limiting his writing to reporting, or game stories where he writes about the actual game; or make sure that in every piece he writes about LeBron James he discloses his personal bias. At least that way the readers will understand they’re not getting fair coverage. That won’t make much of a difference given how malleable the minds of most readers are, but at least it’s the proper thing to do.

Ridiculing one of the top players in the NBA for being a good team player and helping his team win games is a poor and irresponsible message to disseminate, especially from one of the most powerful outlets in the country.


Around The Web

  • http://twitter.com/buckustoothnail Buckus Toothnail

    Wojnarowski is the biggest coward “blog” writer covering the NBA. What other “blogger” with a platform as big as his won’t allow readers to post comments on their story? NONE. And that says a lot about the character of this hack. While he earns his living taking potshots at NBA players, imaging he’s some authority on basketball when just a look at his pudgy face will tell you he never played a minute of the sport in his life, he himself is so cowardly and insecure that he prohibits anyone to comment on his trashy blog entries. Like a typical low-life with a Napoleon complex, he believes only HE should have the what he deems a privilege to express opinions, and certainly any opinions that take him to task can’t be tolerated. Like a true yellow-bellied coward hiding behind his PC (along with his child porn collection), he can dish it but he can’t take it. Just don’t let him alone around your kids.

  • http://twitter.com/drgoatz ed brinkley

    It’s not just Lebron though. He’s constantly attacking players based on personal bias. If you read his articles you’ll notice that nothing he writes about is based on any kind of analytical or even logical subject. He only chooses platforms in which he can disparage players(which he always does). The man is a professional troll.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R5ZRJPZW7NC4MSX7XCK6FKWNKM Net

    At last! I’ve been waiting for somebody to give Wojnarowski what he truly deserves – a dose of his own medicine.

  • Anonymous

    This article is spot on. Wojnarowski is a great writer with a ridiculous and unexplainable bias against LeBron James. Hating LeBron no matter what he accomplishes is fine for the average Joe, but not for an influential writer like Woj.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4ZEBG6FHKFIJEZBYQQBCJNTU4M Earl Hollis

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I take Adrian Wojnarowski’s as one opinion, and yours, Larry Brown, as another opinion. I also have my own opinion: LeBron James is a great player, but he’s not a clutch player. He might be good at passing the ball and helping his teammates, but as he has demonstrated several times in decisive games, including during the current Heat-Mavs series, that he’s not consistently willing or able to step up his own game and win when it counts most. It is this exact reason why comparisons to Jordan fall short. Jordan was as clutch as clutch gets. James has yet to demonstrate that he’s consistently better than a lukewarm Scottie Pippen. Prove me wrong.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Earl, this isn’t a Jordan vs. LeBron argument. If you want to enter that debate, please do it on our post about Pippen saying LeBron can be as good as Michael.

    This is about Wojnarowski’s anti-LeBron bias coloring his writing. I gave several examples of that. If you dispute that, you can explain why here. And if your only defense is that he’s entitled to his opinion, then you’re the exact type of person of whom he’s taking advantage. You should demand fairness from the media, not personal bias without disclosure.

  • Anonymous

    here’s what your need to know about Adrian:

    s Yahoo!’s Wojnarowski The White Jason BlairIs Yahoo!’s top basketball sports writer Adrian Wojnarowski the next Jason Blair. It is unprecedented that this so-called  sports columnist almost never quotes any one the record. In fact, in the history of sports writing, I have never seen such overuse of unnamed and anonymous sources. A real news organization with integrity and good editorial staff would never allow a reporter to continue using unnamed sources without attribution. It is obviously that Wojnarowski is a great writer and weaves interesting stories, but it is also just as obviously that he welds his pen like an ax murderer against people that he dislikes.Following the Jason Blair incident, the New York Times and other news organization moved to establish guidelines that prevent the overuse of anonymous sources. Here’s the New York Times guideline on “Principles for Granting Anonymity” at the following link http://www.nytco.com/company/business_units/sources.html. In short, it says:—————————————————————————–Principles for Granting AnonymityThe use of unidentified sources is reserved for situations in which the newspaper could not otherwise print information it considers reliable and newsworthy. When we use such sources, we accept an obligation not only to convince a reader of their reliability but also to convey what we can learn of their motivation – as much as we can supply to let a reader know whether the sources have a clear point of view on the issue under discussion.In routine interviewing – that is, most of the interviewing we do – anonymity must not be automatic or an assumed condition. In that kind of reporting, anonymity should not be offered to a source. Exceptions will occur in the reporting of highly sensitive stories, when it is we who have sought out a source who may face legal jeopardy or loss of livelihood for speaking with us. Similarly they will occur in approaches to authoritative officials in government who, as a matter of policy, do not speak for attribution. On those occasions, we may use an offer of anonymity as a wedge to make telephone contact, get an interview or learn a fact. In such a case, the reporter should press the source, after the conversation, to go on the record with the newsworthy information that has emerged.Whenever anonymity is granted, it should be the subject of energetic negotiation to arrive at phrasing that will tell the reader as much as possible about the placement and motivation of the source – in particular, whether the source has firsthand knowledge of the facts.In any situation when we cite anonymous sources, at least some readers may suspect that the newspaper is being used to convey tainted information or special pleading. If the impetus for anonymity has originated with the source, further reporting is essential to satisfy the reporter and the reader that the paper has sought the whole story.We will not use anonymous sourcing when sources we can name are readily available.—————————————————————————–In real news organization, sources are generally only used when a reporter can not get someone else on the record to say the same thing. The reason why is because most anonymous information is never neutral — meaning most sources without fear of being named generally embellish or lie. And that is why the USA Today ban use of anonymous sources, calling it “evil.” http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/columnist/neuharth/2004-01-16-neuharth_x.htmAnd certainly, there is no good reason for Wojnarowski to protect his sources, since none of his stories are investigative pieces, breaking news and no issues of national security are involved. If Yahoo!’s editors continue to allow this to happen, the integrity and credibility of Yahoo! Sports entire news organization will be questioned. As I wrote in a personal note to Wojnarowski, he is either a lazy reporter who can’t get people to talk on the record, or he is white Jason Blair with an ax to grind. In fact, all of Wojnarowski’s unnamed stories all seem to contain the so-called Holy Grail of news-writing — the elusive “money quote.” Most veteran reporters will tell you may get a perfect quote four or five times in your career. However, every time one of Wojnarowski’s anonymous insiders so graciously provide him with a quote, they seem to fit so perfectly and seamlessly within the story that it seems God himself is the inside source.Here’s the list of so-called anonymous sources (in bold) in ten of this so-called journalist’s stories on Yahoo! over the past month. Doesn’t take a genius to see that this rampant use of unnamed sources is not the norm in journalism, and is suspicious and shady at best. Emperor Riley lords over everything in Miami March 10, 2011“He wants the Riley way preserved as much as he wants the winning,” says a league source well-connected with the dynamic between Riley and his coaches. “The players know who’s in charge, and know that Riley will never take a backseat. No one is more concerned with getting credit than him, and that doesn’t allow Erik to go outside of what [Riley] thinks is best. It’s hard to coach on eggshells.”D-Will becomes Nets’ vision for future March 2, 2011One basketball official who has worked closely with Williams has a warning for the Nets: Be careful with D-Will because less may be more with him.“He’s not a Hollywood guy,” the official said. “This isn’t ‘Melo. He’s a private person. He’s not going to love the red carpet. He’ll act like he loves it, go along, but that’s not necessarily what he wants. I just hope they don’t try to ask him to compete with Amar’e [Stoudemire] and ‘Melo from a marketing end. … He wants to win and he’ll do anything to win &ndash that’s his priority.”Perkins gets 4-year, $35 million extension March 1, 2011Before ever playing a game for the Oklahoma City Thunder, center Kendrick Perkins(notes) has agreed to a four-year, $34.8 million contract extension, sources told Yahoo! Sports.The deal includes $750,000 in annual bonuses, sources said.Murphy debating between Celtics, Heat February 28, 2011Miami president Pat Riley and Boston general manager Danny Ainge planned to make recruiting pitches toTroy Murphy(notes) on Monday night, and the free agent will soon choose between the Eastern Conference rivals, a league source told Yahoo! Sports.Hamilton at center of Pistons’ turmoil February 26, 2011About a week prior to his banishment to the Detroit Pistons’ bench in January, Richard Hamilton(notes) berated coach John Kuester in a jarring and expletive-filled diatribe on the practice court, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.Several of the team’s younger players were mortified watching it and privately told agents and associates they wished they had the courage to stand up, confront Hamilton and try to take control back from the disgruntled veteran. The early January incident was the second time Hamilton had initiated a confrontation with Kuester this season, sources said, and it ultimately spurred the benching that led to such public acrimony. Cleveland was mostly interested in the draft pick, but was willing to let Hamilton join the team for the remainder of his contract. Once Hamilton made clear he didn’t want to play for a last-place team, his representatives discussed a contract buyout that would’ve allowed him to likely join theChicago Bulls, sources said. Cleveland wanted him to take $18 million in the buyout, arguing that he could secure his 2011-12 salary now when it’s possible that money wouldn’t be paid him during a lockout next season.Anthony could walk after ’14 season February 25, 2011The three-year extension Carmelo Anthony(notes) negotiated with the New York Knicks contains an option that allows him to become a free agent after the 2013-14 season, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.As ‘Melo arrives, Zeke hides in shadows February 22, 2011“Seriously, who the [expletive] is Isiah kidding with this [expletive],” says a source involved in the Knicks’ free-agent recruiting process.Thomas’ influence grows within Knicks February 20, 2011Thomas is driving everything through owner James Dolan – the trade for Carmelo Anthony(notes), the departure of Donnie Walsh and perhaps even the eventual hiring of the New York Knicks’ next president and general manager, multiple league sources told Yahoo! Sports.“Isiah is calling the shots for New York,” said one front-office executive with knowledge of the Anthony trade talks. “It’s a disgrace. Donnie should walk.”For months, Thomas has privately insisted that Walsh was done with the Knicks this spring. His option must be exercised by April 30 and that still hasn’t happened. Thomas believes it’s never happening, and believes he can install a puppet regime through Dolan to replace Walsh. This way he can eliminate the middleman. “He wants his own guy in that office, someone he can have some control over,” a league source said.The front office is still stocked with Thomas loyalists, including Glen Grunwald and Rodney Heard. Heard was responsible for the illegal workouts under Thomas’ regime, but Walsh has never been allowed to fire him because of Thomas’ relationship with him. Heard, an East Coast scouting director, had a chance to leave for an assistant GM’s job with the Minnesota Timberwolves over the summer, but stayed because, as he privately told friends in the league, “Isiah is coming back.”He’s humiliated Walsh, who, sources said, could still return to the Indiana Pacers as president should Larry Bird retire this summer.NBA owners, union: unified they aren’t February 18, 2011The suggestion was met with resounding rejection from Players Association executive director Billy Hunter, but commissioner David Stern spared his anger until union officials and players left the room. With the rest of the NBA’s owners watching, sources told Yahoo! Sports that Stern berated Sarver with an expletive-riddled diatribe demanding that he never, ever ask him to leave one of his negotiating sessions again. This was the Stern mostly hidden from the public eye: belligerent, controlling and forever staking his territory.Several of the top player agents told Yahoo! Sports they have grave concerns about Hunter’s ability to spare the union unprecedented givebacks in these negotiations. Most are inclined to invoke the most nuclear option of all – decertification of the union. This could send the labor battle into a protracted and punishing court fight.“Do I feel comfortable with Billy Hunter at the table with David Stern?” one of the NBA’s elite player agents said. “No, I don’t. We’re so overmatched that it isn’t funny. And the players don’t have the [courage] to hang in there very long without a paycheck. The only thing that the league fears is decertification. They don’t want to go down that road. They just want to negotiate as long as they can because they believe the players will crumble.“The owners want to destroy the players in this deal. They want the whole system to change. We have one bullet and it’s decertification.”Within the agent ranks, there’s much criticism on Hunter’s ability to rally players and take the fight to the commissioner. There’s criticism of Hunter’s willingness to use the most powerful agents to get their players on board, to share the burden of uniting a union that’s never matched the fortitude of the NFL’s and Major League Baseball’s players.“I’ve supported the union in the past, tried the other way and each time the players’ rights have been eroded,” another prominent agent told Yahoo! Sports. “To me, I think we need to decertify.