Last night Chris Broussard of ESPN reported that the Chicago Bulls “have reached out to Phil Jackson through back channels to gauge his interest in returning to the franchise he won six NBA titles with, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.”
(Wilbon didn’t acknowledge Jax’s denial the next day on PTI)
Broussard went on to note that, “there has been no direct contact between Bulls officials and Jackson, according to the sources, but people close to both parties have spoken and come away with the belief that Jackson would be open to a potential reunion in Chicago next season.”
Shortly after the story was posted, K.C. Johnson of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE noted that Jackson reported himself earlier this month that he had no intention of returning to Chicago:
That seems unlikely, not only because of the team source downplaying the story but also from Jackson’s words on May 4.
No, I’m not,” Jackson said, when asked if he’d be interested in succeeding Vinny Del Negro. “I think it’s a wonderful job for whoever takes it.”
That denial was not included in the original Broussard piece. ESPN copy editors have since added it.
May 17 on local D.C. radio, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon reported that Phil Jackson had already been asked to take a 60% pay cut by Lakers Owner Jerry Buss if he wanted to return as Lakers Coach next season. When asked on May 19 by Kevin Ding of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - after Wilbon’s report - if he was asked to take a 60% pay cut, Jackson said, “I have not.”
The next day (May 20 “Pay Cut For Phil” segment) on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption Wilbon debated with Tony Kornheiser the prospect of Jackson taking a 60% pay cut. Nowhere in his discussion was the fact that Jackson had specifically denied Wilbon’s claim the night before.
On May 21 Chad Ford of ESPN shook up the Chris Bosh free agent sweepstakes when ESPN.com reported:
Chris Bosh’s agent has told the Toronto Raptors that he’s narrowed his list of preferred teams to five, two sources told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford at the NBA draft camp.
The list of five teams — Toronto plus the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks, sources said — was given to Toronto management in case the Raptors want to construct a sign-and-trade deal (assuming Bosh doesn’t re-sign with Toronto).
Later that day, Bosh himself Tweeted: “I saw that i supposedly had a ” top 5″ yesterday. Here’s something more accurate. http://j.mp/cWS0SV.”
The story Bosh linked to, at RealGM.com, reported:
Henry Thomas, the agent for Chris Bosh, said that he has not given the Raptors a list of teams to which his client would be interested in a sign-and-trade deal.
“I haven’t closed the door on anything,” Thomas said. “I haven’t given Bryan [Colangelo] any lists. There is no list. This is a process that is ongoing.”
Thomas said that Bosh is currently considering his options.
“Why would I do that?” Thomas said about the wish list. “We’re still in a process of evaluating a lot different situations.”
Bosh and Thomas disputing Ford’s claims was never acknowledged in Ford’s original report.
It’s a compliment to ESPN that I’m pointing out these three recent instances, as I’m acknowledging the ultimate power ESPN has to manufacture news. But with that power comes responsibility and in each of these cases, the source of the reportage has specifically denied the ESPN report.
Those denials need to be included in the original reports - and not essentially ignored as ESPN continues to promote the stories on its various platforms.
If another outlet reported that Phil Jackson had already been asked by Jerry Buss to take a 60% pay cut and ESPN was then able to get a specific denial of the report from Jackson himself, what do you think ESPN would do? Most likely trumpet debunking the story or merely spike it.
With such an enormous audience comes potential for misinformation being inappropriately circulated. ESPN reporters need to slow down and focus on getting a reaction from the subject of a report before they go forward with ambitious and sometimes inaccurate claims.
With a media monopoly comes added responsibility. The vast majority of the time ESPN does a great job, but I just couldn’t let three stories like this - in only a week - slide.