Remember when Rick Reilly wrote a column that included a line about LeBron James punching Juwan Howard's cane, and it turned out that he got that anecdote from a satirical post on The Basketball Jones? Boy, that was a silly mistake, and one that you wouldn't expect Rick Reilly to make again.
Except that he made it again. In a column about how players on Stanley Cup-winning teams choose to spend their day with the cup, Reilly writes:
Center Mike Richards used [the Stanley Cup] to mock an ex-girlfriend who dumped him at 14.
The only place where such a story has ever been mentioned is on a low-rent blog called realhockeynews.com, which is a painfully obvious parody news site. In August, realhockeynews.com posted a satirical article "Mike Richards Spends Day with Stanley Cup Standing in Front of Ex-Girlfriend's House."
For the lucky few who actually get to realize the dream of winning the Stanley Cup, figuring out what to do on their one day with Lord Stanley can be almost as difficult as winning it. But not for Mike Richards; as soon as the Cup was delivered to his door, the Kings winger went straight to his ex-girlfriend's house in Kenora, Ontario to show off the glimmering trophy.
"I just wanted to show her what she missed out on," Richards said, as a tear rolled down his cheek. "I wanted to show her that when she dumped me back in the 9th grade, she made a big mistake."
Just so there's no confusion about how obviously fake this article is, it ends like this:
"I'm leaving because I love her," Richards said as he stepped into the back of the police car with the Cup in his arms. "And when you really love someone, you sometimes have to let them go."
"Freak!" Rebecca Bell responded.
I called Rick Reilly this afternoon. When I told him who I was and where I was calling from, he responded with a lengthy silence, and then told me to ask my question. When I asked him about the Richards story, he hung up on me. Here's what the conversation sounded like:
Shortly after that phone call, ESPN edited Reilly's piece and scrubbed the part about Mike Richards. This correction was placed at the bottom of the page:
An Oct. 18 story on ESPN.com incorrectly characterized what Mike Richards of the Los Angeles Kings did with the Stanley Cup during the offseason. The anecdote the story relied on was false.
Here is a screenshot of the passage before it was edited by ESPN: