Adrian Wojnarowski is the latest ESPN reporter facing criticism.
The personalities on Dan LeBatard’s podcast were discussing the situation at ESPN surrounding hosts Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor. Former ESPN NBA analyst Amin Elhassan said the part about the Taylor-Nichols audio leak story that bothered him was reading Woj called Nichols a “bad teammate.”
To Elhassan, that was a laughable claim coming from a guy he deems to be a bad teammate.
“Are you f—ing s—ing me? This guy’s gonna call someone a bad teammate? For real? For real?” Elhassan asked rhetorically.
Then Elhassan specifically accused Wojnarowski, the network’s top NBA reporter, of holding back black reporters. Elhassan accused Woj of being threatened by black reporters who have better rapports with certain players.
“Do we want to talk about the black careers that he put a foot on because he was threatened by? Do we want to talk about that?” Elhassan asked.
“Do you wanna talk about the newsbreakers (with an -s!) of diverse background — who have rapports with players that Adrian doesn’t have — that he saw as threatening? Because his sources are all front office people, and assistant coaches trying to move up, and maybe a video coordinator who’s trying to get a better job somewhere else?
“But he can’t talk to LeBron … Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, because he doesn’t have the rapport with them. So what he does is he steps on them. He steps on a lot of people over there.”
Two things about Woj are true: he has the best information about the NBA. He also has a history of using his platform to punish subjects who do not grant him special access. He specifically did this with LeBron James about 10 years ago. So it’s not new that Woj weaponizes his position when he feels it is necessary.
As far as Elhassan’s claims, a big distinction needs to be made. First, it needs to be determined whether Elhassan is correct that Woj has blocked or held back black reporters. Just in what we know publicly, when Woj was at Yahoo Sports, he created an NBA-focused division called “The Vertical.” Woj hired three reporters: Michael Lee, Chris Mannix, and Shams Charania. Two of the three reporters he hired and gave a huge platform to are minorities. He elevated Charania from RealGM to Yahoo, which is a huge jump. Lee is also black. So I would point to that evidence to counter Elhassan’s claims that Woj is blocking black reporters.
But the other question is whether Woj intentionally blocks black reporters but not reporters of other races, or whether he just blocks people in general to try and protect his status as the top dog. Keep in mind that when ESPN hired Woj away from Yahoo, ESPN got rid of a white reporter, Marc Stein, who otherwise would have been Woj’s top in-house competition. That detail suggests that Wojnarowski is just a very protective and competitive person, regardless of race.
Elhassan is the one bringing race into it rather than just leaving it as claiming Woj is a bad teammate. If Woj tries to limit others so that he stands out, then that would make him a bad teammate. But if Woj’s behavior is motivated by competitive purposes and not race, then it’s not an issue of Woj targeting races.
The post Adrian Wojnarowski accused of holding back black reporters appeared first on Larry Brown Sports.
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