This begins with the recent Brandon Jennings quote ESPN has been running lately about how terrible things are going for him in Italy:
“I’ve gotten paid on time once this year… They treat me like I’m a little kid. They don’t see me as a man. If you get on a good team, you might not play a lot. Some nights you’ll play a lot; some nights you won’t play at all. That’s just how it is… I don’t see too many kids doing it. It’s tough man, I’ll tell you that. It can break you.”Here is one message you can take away from that quote:
You hear that talented high-school kids? Think you can skip out on attending an American College and earn money and professional experience while waiting until you are old enough for the NBA Draft? Ha! You won't get to play, and you probably will have trouble getting paid. Look at Jennings! Stick with the system!
At least, that is how the quote struck me. If you actually bother to read the article or report other assertions of the article (hi ESPN), you will see that it hasn't all been bad for Jennings. In that same column Jennings also states that his experiences have helped him mature. There was also this:
An N.B.A. assistant coach who has been to Europe and has watched Jennings play said his potential draft standing had not been harmed. “I think it is good for him. He was getting a defensive component that he needed. If I was a scout and I needed a point guard, I would be extremely impressed with what he has done over there.”Oh. That. It looked shady that ESPN only reported the quote about how horrible it has been for Jennings. After all, they make a lot of money showing college basketball and logically would not want the top young talents of the country skipping that route. They need stars. They need ratings.
But as Ryan Jones at Slam Online pointed out, ESPN took some other reporting measures that may have taken their reporting from possibly questionable to nefarious:
Then came Saturday night, when I sat in the press room before the Penn State-Iowa game and saw ESPN scrolling the Jennings’ “warning” as some sort of breaking news along their bottom-line feed. This was during the broadcast of a college basketball game (Wisconsin-Illinois, I think) so it made such beautiful sense for the network of universal coach apologists like Dickie V (who I mostly like, honest) and Big Monday and everything else to run snippets of Jennings’ quotes. If you didn’t actually read the Times story, and only saw the ticker (or read the follow-up gloating of some national columnists), you’d think Jennings was on the next boat home, a miserable, apologetic prodigal son.I was happy when Brandon Jennings first chose his post-high school path. The actions of ESPN have pushed me to be even more in favor of other American players following in his footsteps. I love college basketball too, but I love fairness even more.