NBA Is Big In Russia, Says Article Quoting People Pretending To Be Russians

The Miami Herald fell for a fun little prank last night, as the Heat took on CSKA Moscow. Two Floridians decked themselves out as CSKA fans, played the part of Russians, and woudn't you know: the Herald made them the lede.

The relevant section from Linda Robertson's column (and the Google cache, for when it inevitably gets fixed):

While driving to AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday, brothers Pavel and Yuri Kopeche listened to Russian rap music to get into the mood for the Heat's game against CSKA Moscow.

The rapper, Don Zagru, is known for satirizing the state of Russian society and wearing LeBron James jerseys.

We know that King James has worldwide appeal. Here was confirmation that LeBronsky is the ultimate symbol of cool in cool-hungry Moscow.

Somewhere, basketball salesman David Stern is smiling.

"The NBA is the new vodka in Russia,'' said Yuri Kopeche, a Russian native who has lived in Miami for five years. "People cannot get enough basketball. If you're wearing a LeBron James shirt or a Knicks or Lakers cap, people know you are Americanized.

"Of course, Russia is usually about five years behind the United States. Britney Spears is very popular right now.''

Of course, Pavel and Yuri Kopeche don't exist. They're a couple of born-and-raised South Floridians, who thought it would be fun to dress the part, paint their faces and cheer for CSKA all night. Getting approached by a reporter from the Herald (and a Moscow TV station) was just an added bonus.

Opulence? Newspapers' factchecking departments do not has it. I understand the turnaround time on a story doesn't allow for much research, but a quick Google of Don Zagru would have shown that he doesn't, you know, exist.

Also, the lack of a miniature giraffe should have been a huge red flag.

NBA's global appeal on display with Moscow team's visit [Miami Herald]
A great prank was pulled tonight [Football's Future]
Miami Herald FAIL [Thunder Treats]