In case you guys have been under a rock, Gordon Hayward finally announced he will be playing his basketball in Boston for the next four years. First it was reported, then it was contradicted by Woj, then we were in limbo for 5-6 hours and finally, it became official with Hayward’s release of his letter to the fans of Utah on The Players Tribune, Derek Jeter’s website.
This whole trend has become so old and cliche in the worst kind of way so quickly. Quicker than any trend in sports media I’ve ever encountered. When Durant did it, it was cool, interesting and different. Then Lowery did it and it was like ok, I guess were doing this again. Now Hayward has done it and I’m just over it already.
Derek Jeter and NBA Free Agency are two of my most favorite things in the world, but unfortunately the former is ruining the latter. NBA Free Agency, in my opinion, is the most exciting two weeks of the year in the sports world. It’s constant movement, Woj Bomb after Woj Bomb and Sham-wow after Sham-wow. We sit there scanning Twitter, watching ESPN, hearing and running with every crazy rumor that catches our eye. It’s fucking exhilarating. Derek Jeter’s website is taking that away from us.
When Jeter started The Players Tribune his intention was to give the athletes a voice. To give them a chance to tell their side of the story. A premise I admired and still think is valuable and clearly unique today. Just not for this purpose. Not in this way. I don’t want to hear breaking news from the player himself. I want a WOJ BOMB and I want it unexpectedly. Humans are terrible at keeping secrets and these insider reporters are the best in the business at getting sensitive information out of their “sources.” Which is where this becomes a huge issue.
The news of Hayward’s choice broke way before his official announcement, as all of them do. His agent was then forced to vehemently deny this report. Why? Because they had to have someone edit Hayward’s letter. Because of a stupid contractual agreement with Derek Jeter’s website. The entire sports world was on hold ripping each other’s throats apart, journalistic careers and hundreds of millions of dollars on the line all so Gordon Hayward could “have his own voice.” All so Derek Jeter could get his page views.
The problem with this? It wasn’t even his voice. They spent 6 plus hours editing his piece, how terrible was the first draft that it took a professional writer over 6 hours to make it presentable? If you’re going to sell it as the athletes’ voice then give it to me in their voice. This isn’t “The Yankees Years with Tom Verducci” This is supposed to be authentic. I cannot cosign something that delivers a lesser product, a product that seems forced, rehearsed and ultimately, purchased.
Let’s leave breaking news to the professionals. If Hayward wants to release the letter that’s fine. I encourage it and hope it continues, but I’m not going to sit here and refresh The Players Tribune page waiting for a story to be posted. That’s why I have twitter notifications on for Woj and Shams. Let them break the stories. Don’t force feed it down our throats from a source that purchased the right to break the news, especially when you know you’re not even competent enough to keep it under wraps until its posted. We’re smarter than that.