The escalating non-story of LeBron James making moves on Anthony Davis finally ensnared the NBA league office on Friday, with league counsel reportedly reminding teams via a carefully worded memo that only great big meanies would ever honestly answer a question about whether it is good to have good things.
To recap: ESPN’s foremost scoopster speculated about the Lakers’ future roster plans; an ESPN reporter then used that analysis to produce a quote from LeBron James about whether he would enjoy playing with Anthony Davis; another ESPN reporter spun that up into an analysis of the prospects of Davis being traded to the Lakers; next the ESPN scoopster went out and riled up a handful of competing general managers to hammer LeBron’s quote into a tampering story; then ESPN’s foremost basketblogger described this “trade talk” as “the biggest story in the NBA,” as if, you know, there isn’t actual basketball going on. Meanwhile, nothing of any substance whatsoever has been learned or reported about trade proposals, or free agency intentions, or desired destinations, or deadline plans, or anything at all.
Which brings us to today. The scoopster got his hands on a memo from the NBA which says, among other things, that “in today’s media environment” it is especially important to respect “contractual employment relationships.” Per Woj’s report:
“Teams should be entitled to focus their efforts on the competition this season with the players they have under contract, without having to divert attention or resources to conduct or speculation regarding the potential destinations of those players in future seasons once their contracts expire.”
The memo makes a point of stating that “conduct that doesn’t violate the rule in any single instance may nevertheless constitute a violation if it becomes repeated or part of a broader collection of improper actions,” which should be interpreted exactly and only to mean that LeBron’s quote is fine, but that teams are mad at the Lakers anyway, and now the NBA has to demean itself in order to salve several chapped asses. But here’s where this gets really stupid:
While the NBA won’t punish players for individual comments about interest of playing with another team’s player, “if there are other aggravating factors—such as sustained public recruiting or evidence that the player making such a comment is coordinating with his team—then there may be a basis for a tampering violation.”
Ah ha. So weeks of ESPN making grim meals out of its own excrement have produced a memo wherein the NBA sternly warns teams that it will not hesitate to hand out punishment the very moment players’ public comments escalate into the balcony scene from Cyrano de Bergerac. And since what started all this cannot honestly be described as recruitment, and since no one will ever prove in a million years that LeBron requires or solicits or accepts or in any other way utilizes the input of his bosses before giving the only honest answer to the world’s most obvious question, surely we can all drop this now, once and for all. ONCE AND FOR ALL, I SAID.