As the “Damian Lillard wants the Miami Heat” saga drags well into its third month, social media is full of declarations that a deal is imminent. Sometimes it’s clearly wishful thinking but other times it’s based on a quote from the likes of Woj or Shams or other respected NBA journalists. Take this recent offering for example:
The Blazers want the Heat to empty out all of their assets for Damian Lillard, per Brian Windhorst— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) September 18, 2023
“They want the Heat to literally scrounge into every nook and cranny and produce everything they possibly can. The Heat don't feel a need to do that,” pic.twitter.com/njzsz85FQo
Important reporting from a respected NBA insider, right? Not so fast. Brian Windhorst did actually say those words... but also a few more. Brian was talking on the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast and here is a longer version of the quote:
I just think that what the Blazers want if they’re dealing with one team, if it is Miami or nothing, they want what the Nets got from the Suns. (interjected: They’re just not getting that.) I know, I understand that, and a year ago right now the Nets weren’t getting it from the Suns, whatever initial talks they had. But you know, the concept is they want the Heat to literally scrounge into every nook and cranny and produce everything they possibly can. The Heat don’t feel a need to do that...
There is a lot of nuance that got lost with the short quote segment, but the most important thing is that Brian started by saying “I just think”. He is not reporting, he’s stating an opinion. Of course it’s informed by his knowledge of the situation. It’s not a completely baseless opinion, but it is an opinion.
The problem isn’t that Brian Windhorst has an opinion, or that his opinion is wrong. If I had to give my opinion on his opinion I’d say he’s spot on. The problem is that this tweet was cited as a new development. Many in Miami quoted Windhorst as proof that negotiations have moved into a final phase and that Dame is moments away from joining the Heat. That’s an irresponsible conclusion to draw from the original quote.
Social media has become an incredibly valuable tool for fans and professionals alike to stay more closely in touch with topics that are important to them. Unfortunately it’s getting harder and harder to get a fair picture what’s actually going on from social media alone.
While Woj and Shams break plenty of stories, news is often conveyed by people who aren’t necessarily household names. This creates a situation where we can’t just reject out of hand social media posts claiming new developments. This becomes murky when a quote like the above starts to take on a life of it’s own. Pretty soon it’s being retweeted and accepted as fact of a new development, often along with some of the spin that has since been associated with it.
If it’s frustrating that all of the “news” about Lillard seems to be coming out of Miami there’s a reason for it. The vast majority of it isn’t news. It might be speculation. It might be opinion. It might be speculation based on an opinion. It might be a prediction. But it (usually) isn’t news. There seems to be an insatiable hunger in Miami for anything that suggests a Dame deal is just about done. Plenty of groups and individuals are more than happy to give the people what they want, facts be damned.