NBA players will never admit it, but they love the media. They’re obsessed with it. They pay attention to it, they engage with it, and they use it for their own purposes. They are unique in this regard.
But still, even in the NBA, I’ve never heard of anything like what the Cleveland Cavaliers did on Monday, when they held what amounted to an off-the-record press conference with three select media outlets to talk about how the team isn’t very good.
ESPN was among them.
Several prominent players, speaking on condition of anonymity to ESPN, Cleveland.com and The Athletic, expressed doubt that the problems — an aging roster, defensively challenged personnel and a glut of redundant role players — could simply be worked out through patience and a chance to coalesce when fully healthy.
This is incredible.
First, I’m passionately interested in the “condition of anonymity” aspect to this. Obviously, you don’t bring three media outlets into a room and tell them a bunch of stuff if you don’t want that stuff to be published, so that’s the first thing. Then you think, OK, well these guys didn’t want their names attached to these concerns because of the internal team politics or whatever. But if that’s the case, how is sneaking around behind the rest of the team’s back going to help? And how hard could it possibly be for the rest of the team to Sherlock this thing, when it sounds like half the team was in this press conference?
Seemingly, several players on the Cavs would like to see some of the other Cavs traded for new Cavs, but from here it’s difficult to see what anyone involved gained from this goofy little episode.