Before I start, I'd like to make clear that this has nothing to do with the Internet or blogs or the changing media landscape or anything like that. You kids have always been and will continue to be welcome on my lawn.
That said, I absolutely hate when tiny snippets of sourceless, baseless, conventional wisdom turn into wildly misleading headlines on well-regarded NBA news sites. Case in point, this little item emerged on the RealGM ticker Sunday:
Good times! I was hoping that would happen. I like the Heat, and I like Wade, and I like the two together even more. Happy day!
Except that this enticing headline was culled from this piece of idle speculation from Newsday:
Wade's starring role with Team USA significantly boosted his value, which will only continue to rise if he stays healthy. The feeling around the league is that Wade will sign an extension with Miami instead of opting out, but there are plenty of variables to consider -- such as Wade's prickly relationship with Heat president Pat Riley.
Oh, well if the "feeling around the league" said it, then it must be true. That disembodied entity wouldn't lie.
It may be true that Wade will re-up with Miami before opting out. His injury history makes him more likely to get into a long-term maximum deal as soon as possible. But this little nugget is useless, and its logic self-defeating: Wade will sign an extension with the Heat unless he doesn't. And if it's such an open question, other team executives "expecting" Wade to stay home has no bearing on whether he actually will or not.
The funny thing is, this story would be fine without the baseless speculation. I just think it's hard for NBA writers, and I'll count myself as guilty at times, to admit they don't know something, even if that something is unknowable. Wade hasn't even made his decision, so how would anybody else know what it is yet? What's wrong with writing that Wade may or may not be available, without the irresponsible suggestion that conventional wisdom favors one outcome or the other?
So one reporter feels the need to flesh out his story with heaps of arbitrary speculation, RealGM picks it up and inflates it, and Heat fans all over get a jolt of excitement followed by the deflating realization that we are no closer to an answer on this franchise-altering question than we were before we clicked. The crazy thing is that the demand for discussions like these is the reason why blogs like mine exist at all, so I'm kind of decrying the very thing that allows this platform to exist. It would be like MSNBC saying nobody knows who's going to win the election, so we might as well just run prison documentaries until Nov. 4. Neither one is going to happen. And because it's not going to happen, we'll have to get used to occasionally feeling like we're getting misled or manipulated.