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Seemingly, NBA free agency has cooled down. All of the major moves have been made with Chris Paul, Paul George, Gordon Hayward and others heading to new teams in pursuit of winning a championship/beating the Warriors/making that money. Even with free agency shifting from Paul and George to Monta Ellis and Nick Young, NBA free agency fervor rages on.
Aside from the Brooklyn Nets choosing to destroy every team’s cap space, free agency may have reached its inflection point. But, seemingly, the most consistent storyline of the NBA offseason is the great news breaker debate. Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania have become the premier sources of NBA news. Wojnarowski joined ESPN at the beginning of free agency, dropping WojBombs as soon as midnight struck on July 1st. Within seconds of Wojnarowski’s free agency news explosion, Shams Charania dropped a few bombs of his own. They’re now affectionately called ShamsWows (not my invention, just the most common phrase I’ve seen to describe a Shams tweet).
The breaking news battle has continued, with Wojnarowski and Charania both breaking their fair share of stories. These range from big trades, exciting signings, and sheer confusion. (Case in point, the “Gordon Hayward has gone dark” tweet.) But many have turned on ESPN’s newest hire, instead singing the praises of the young, hungry Charania. Here are just a few of the memes that have sprung from many joining the Shams hive (I came up with that one myself).
The NBA’s most famous moments, captured with Wojnarowski and Charania instead of LeBron, Westbrook, Iverson, etc.
Woj stays lurking, even when people consider him a dead man.
This stems from an actual ESPN broadcast where Woj walked into a live broadcast accidentally. Obviously, it wasn’t Shams in the original photo.
Yes, basketball fans/nerds are defending and cheering on their favorite NBA writer more passionately than they did a Spurs-Warriors Western Conference Finals matchup. “Multiple sources” isn’t just a Stephen A. Smith or Chris Broussard meme anymore — it’s a competition consumed by the masses throughout the NBA blog-osphere.
The perceived “battle” between the two former colleagues has been the most consistent offseason storyline. Aside from Chris Haynes apparently hacking into The Players Tribune to reveal Hayward’s Boston move, Woj and Shams have been the go-to sources. This is especially true with another notable news breaker, Marc Stein, currently unemployed. Unlike the stories these two break, the battle is constant. The Chris Paul trade was quickly usurped by free agency’s beginning. The Paul George trade then replaced that storyline. Paul George’s trade to the Thunder gave way to Gordon Haywward’s decision (or indecision).
Rather than dwelling on stories, NBA fans are moving quickly to the next story almost instantly. It’s almost the antithesis of the NBA season, where storylines are drawn out for weeks or even months. (Remember when people were worried that the Warriors weren’t clicking? Or when the Celtics looked like Finals contenders? Yeah.) The constant craving for information and scoops is as popular in NBA news reporting as a team heading into the luxury tax.
Why Does This All Matter?
I know. For any person not fully immersed in NBA twitter, this constant blast of news could be overwhelming. Many may be wondering: who cares about who breaks which news first? Does it really matter if the news is coming from Yahoo or ESPN? That’s understandable. But the insanity of NBA news breaking is a reflection on the growth of basketball (and the discussion around it) itself.
Following the NBA is now a 24/7, 365-days-a-year commitment. The sheer response to a 140-character message may have garnered more interest than a random NBA game in mid-January. Player movement and trades, hypothetically, may be the most exciting part of basketball. The NBA has mastered the art of managing social media and selling what essentially is “hype.” When the relatively mundane news of Otto Porter (essentially a third-tier NBA player) signing an offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets gets more replies, interactions and views than an Aaron Judge home run gif, that shows the power of NBA reporting.
The NBA offseason has reached its maxima with free agency madness. For fans of non-contending teams, this is the most hopeful, or the most soul crushing time of the year. Fans, bloggers and writers alike will project their biggest hopes for their teams. That excitement has been facilitated from the phones and Twitter accounts of Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania.
But even with all this madness, is anyone else looking forward to Warriors-Cavs, part 4?