Rolling Stone deleted an article titled “Why Derrick Rose Rape Trial May Wreck NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s Legacy” late last week without any notice, The Politico reports. According to their story, the NBA had multiple complaints about the article:
After the piece was published, an NBA representative contacted RollingStone.com sports editor Jason Diamond to dispute a number of assertions in the piece, a Rolling Stone source told POLITICO. In response, Rolling Stone added two corrections to the story.
Only one of the corrections—about when in his tenure as commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the league—is present in an archived version.
In the piece, author Beejoli Shah argues that Silver hasn’t been proactive enough in response to Derrick Rose and two friends being sued in civil court for allegedly gang-raping a woman. (Shah previously worked for Gawker, Deadspin’s former sibling site, and before that, Deadspin published an email she wrote about an encounter with Quentin Tarantino that had become a viral news story.) This is contrasted to the cases of NBAers Jeffery Taylor and Darren Collison, who were suspended 24 and eight games, respectively, by the league after pleading guilty to misdemeanor offenses. (The LAPD is currently conducting a criminal investigation of the Rose incident, which occurred in 2013.)
While it is unknown precisely what the NBA complained about—and the league declined to comment—the piece contains a number of arguments to which the league might have objected. Besides comparing criminal convictions to an ongoing civil trial, Shah argues that the league should have ordered a mental health evaluation of Rose. (The CBA allows for this, but only if the NBPA also agrees, and only for vaguely-defined reasons.) She also asserts that the NBA did not investigate Collison’s case; though an investigation was not publicly announced, the league almost certainly conducted at least a cursory one.
According to Politico, the NBA says it was never contacted before the piece ran, and Rolling Stone at first disputed the NBA’s complaints before deciding to take the piece down. Whether it deleted the piece outright because it was responding to pressure from the NBA, or in lieu of correcting mistakes or formally retracting it, is unclear. Rolling Stone did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Update (12:20 a.m. ET): Rolling Stone has provided a statement with some of its reasoning for taking the story down:
On Wednesday, October 12th, RollingStone.com published an article about the Derrick Rose civil rape trial and the NBA’s handling of it. After publication, it became apparent that the story had substantial flaws.
We made the editorial decision to take down the article on Friday, October 14th. The decision to remove the article from the site was ours alone, and we apologize to anyone that may have been affected.
According to a source close to the situation, things weren’t as cut-and-dry as this statement makes it seem. After the article was published last Wednesday, the NBA provided Rolling Stone with a list of six objections to the article. Two of them—about when Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling and whether the league conducted an investigation into Darren Collison’s domestic violence arrest—were corrected in the initial story. The other four were determined by RollingStone.com sports editor Jason Diamond to be objections to stated opinion or drawn conclusions, not issues of fact, and therefore not worth changing.
Thirty-six hours later, on Friday morning, Rolling Stone was still going back-and-forth with the NBA regarding their objections. Despite Diamond’s previously stated insistence that the NBA’s remaining objections weren’t valid, Rolling Stone higher-ups—it’s unclear which ones exactly—were involved. While they were at one point apparently considering whether asking Beejoli Shah to make significant revisions to the story or unpublishing it entirely would be the better move, they ultimately decided to take it down and to do so without making note of it, presumably in hopes that the entire story would blow over.
Shah declined to comment, and Diamond didn’t respond to a request for comment.