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4/2/12

What’s better? Direct insults or throwing shade – Grantland – Adrian Wojnarowski Edition

Gay lingo is becoming mainstream and one of my favorite phrases is “throwing shade.”  When you throw shade at someone you treat them casually when you insult them…often you may not even mention their name even though we all know who you’re talking about.

Grantland threw shade on Adrian Wojnarowski.

We all remember the horrible agony of constant Dwight Howard updates. Remember when Dwight, for months, was definitely going to leave the Orlando Magic? And Orlando wanted him to stay so bad they drunk dialed him and later hired a new CEO who was gonna convince him to stay?  But no one believed it cause, you know, Dwight really really really wanted to leave. And then wanted to stay. And then he wanted to leave. And then he wanted to stay. And then…and then..and then…

Grantland broke all the madness down bit by bit and mostly name by name…except at least one key name whose tweets they posted as though they arose from thin air:

One insider’s full website story had quoted “a league source with knowledge of Howard’s intention” saying “Dwight’s gone.” But the next day, in a series of tweets, that same insider wrote:

“After broader team meeting today, Dwight Howard had lunch with 3 teammates and told them he planned to opt-in for ’12-13 season.”

A minute later, this:

“Howard called Magic CEO while sitting at table and informed him of intentions, source says. Still, Magic waiting for him to sign papers now.”

And a minute after that, this:

“Several sources already believe he’s second-guessing that incredible change of heart, and Magic still on phones talking trades with teams.”

So the insider reported Howard was gone and he reported Howard was staying and he reported that Howard might change his mind again. All this became “The Indecision,” with Howard as Hamlet, only taller. As for the insider, a cynic could easily argue that the insider had cast his net of speculation widely enough that, whatever happened, he could say he knew it all along.

The tweets in question belonged to one of Yahoo’s NBA writers Adrian Wojnarowski. Wojnarowski is well known enough that to omit his name here just feels wrong. Especially when using his work to make some broader point about what’s “wrong” with reporting on social media.

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I’m not saying there was some sinister reason they omitted his name (although the insult in that last line calls that into question) ; however, based on an experience I had yesterday I have to ask: Are writers not allowed to critique each other by name anymore? In this “shout out to my haters” world are we all too touchy?

Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how a Sun Times columnist said that Matt Forte was “more gimmick than go-to” and not elite. I disagreed with that vehemently. But what I mainly took issue with was the column’s lack of substance. I mean if you’re going to denigrate a guy who has played as well as Forte has at least have the decency to research and make a point.

The columnist finds me on twitter and attacks me telling me that I’m just a chick-fan-turned blogger (true!) and that the “I’m a cool chick cause I know sports” thing that women do was played out before I came along (Au contraire! Men are still falling for that Jeff!). He then told me I was a “good girl” and sent me on my way. I found all of this to be hilarious so this is not a “pity me” plea. I say this to note he never attacked the substance of what I wrote.

But as I wrote the post I did think about omitting the guy’s name.  And ultimately I decided I shouldn’t because:

1. I was linking to his post which I believe is a courtesy that people have forgotten about (no one links me when they disagree I hate that shit!) 2. I get so damn tired of straw man arguments. Straw man meaning you reference someone making a point but never say who made it. When that happens, I have no idea if someone actually made the point you’re arguing against or if you made it up because you felt like arguing. Which, in sports, people ALWAYS want to argue and will seemingly look for any reason to do it.

I think it’s almost always best to cite the catalyst of an argument that you’re making when there is one.

I think I was right to do that and I think Grantland’s David Kindred should have done it, too (assuming the omission wasn’t an editorial decision). I also think MORE writers should do it. The Sun Times columnist I mentioned wrote a filler post like many journos do to fill space–that doesn’t mean other people can’t recognize it for what it is. And if Wojnarowski’s tweets reflect some broader issue Kindred has with modern journalism–which is what I gathered from the post– I think he should say so. That way the reader can review Wojnarowski’s work and tweets and decide whether he’s part of a broader issue. Attacking him anonymously doesn’t help the reader make a determination.

I do understand the desire not to make this a war of journalistic practices so you don’t end up on TV squaring off like Piers Morgan and Toure, two dimwits who are both lousy at what they do but had a battle on CNN about  who’s more inept anyway. But writing is, at its core, expression and discussion. I prefer being direct when engaging in either.

Still,  I understand that sometimes it’s easier and less dramatic to throw shade. But when you disagree with me I appreciate the link. In fact, there used to be a line on every one of my posts that says “like it? disagree with it? consider linking to this post.” Maybe that’s the blogger in me. Also, I tend to not offend easily.

Hat tip to Clutch Fans for pointing the Grantland post out.

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