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Reporting in the dark: NBA reporters and the wait

When surrounded by darkness and uncertainty, humans tend to look for two things; light and something to lean on. Without either, your bearings get out of whack and you feel like you're spinning without control. If you don't find the light or the support, it's easy to fall right on your face. Welcome to the world of NBA reporting for the next week-plus. Let me first say that this is not necessarily impugning the work of any reporter. As a reporter, you can have a dead-set source, then a wind shifts and all of a sudden their information is not good. You can also just be barking up the wrong tree. But in this most unique of NBA offseasons, it's interesting to watch perfectly good NBA reporters flop around like fish out of water. While it's been obvious for weeks, the lack of information has become most apparent since the conclusion of the NBA Draft, when the last obstacle before the Free Agency season was cleared. With those pesky college students out of the way, it was time to ramp up into insanity. For Heat fans, the Free Agency fun appeared to be turned into a death march to July 1 by the New York Times on Saturday, when Jonathan Abrams reported LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Chicago Bulls was thought to be a "done deal." If so, it would be an absolute crusher to Pat Riley, who has viewed Bosh as the back-up plan if the moonshot for James failed. Losing both would handcuff the Heat and create a behemoth in Chicago, something Miami fans are are too familiar with. But then, a counter-report from Stephen A. Smith put a spring in the Miami fan's step. From Stephen A.'s Twitter:
I just reported on my show that LeBron James is heading to S. Beach -- with Chris Bosh -- to team with Dwayne Wade and Pat Riley.
That, my friends, is the golden goose. The dream scenario. That's when you start buying blank rafter banners in bulk. That's something that, as Greg Cote writes in today's Miami Herald, would supplant the Dolphins as the biggest team in town. But what of the New York Times then? A report from Chris Broussard and Marc Stein would seem to indicate that some type of pow-wow was going on between the three, corroborating one of these two reports. Considering ESPN's reluctance to tie in LeBron James and the Heat, it's a bit shocking to read, especially so close to the deadline. However, that report was immediately called into question by the Associated Press' Tim Reynolds, with an assist from the Miami Herald's Mike Wallace:
Summit? I talked to Bosh in Miami, so he was here, yes. LBJ, unknown. D-Wade, Mike Wallace talked to him in Chicago. So who knows?
NO ONE. NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING RIGHT NOW. That's the point of this meandering walk through the day's reportage. People will have sources, and eventually one of those sources will be right. But right now, I highly doubt anyone outside of Dwyane Wade has a firm idea of what they want to do. So how would reporters, speaking through backchannels who claim to speak for the players, be able to report anything of value? Again, it's not slamming the reporters doing their job. They can't be expected to just sit on their hands and wait for a press conference. But to the people hanging on every report coming out, I caution you now. Odds are you'll be believing something wrong. It's impossible to just sit back and wait. But just keep this post in mind when you see a report from someone that gets your britches in a knot. We're a long way from putting ink to paper for any of these's players.