When it comes to the experts of the basketball world, mistakes can have far-reaching consequences—and we’re not just talking getting the score wrong. Whether it comes down to the words of erroneous journalists or high-ranking officials misspeaking while the cameras roll, incorrect influencers can easily create a firestorm among NBA fans when they flub the facts. From incorrectly-reported deaths to a downright offensive lack of political correctness, here are this past year’s five worst media muck-ups regarding the NBA.
Quinton Ross… is alive and well
Few people can kill a man and raise him from the dead in less than a day, but that’s exactly what the journalists at the New York Post did with former NBA player Quinton Ross. The NYP tweeted an erroneous report that the athlete had been killed and “found stuffed in a trash bag and buried in a shallow grave.” Turns out it was a different Quinton Ross after police cleared things up. The ex-baller himself refuted the claims, telling the AP it was a “tough day” as family and friends reacted to his false death. The NYP later re-wrote the story saying initial reports were false, with no mention that they had originated those initial reports. Worse yet, several other publications picked up the story within minutes after the non-news first broke. Check your facts, folks.
Writer claims Jason Collins understated his engagement to a woman
When you make a mistake, especially an obvious one, it’s best to admit it. Writer Howard Kurtz refused to back down from implications he made in a The Daily Beast blog that NBA player Jason Collins deliberately “left out” information about his dating past, including a long-term relationship with a woman that ended in an engagement. Collins, who had made headlines after being the first NBA player to publicly come out as gay, had mentioned this in a tell-all essay published in Sports Illustrated—not that Kurtz noticed. After the writer’s blog post was taken down by the Beast for “misleading characterization” of the player, Kurtz soon lost his job.
The AP’s awkward spelling mistake
Spelling also counts. First noticed by Deadspin, The Associated Press appeared to slander the Brooklyn Nets’ new alternate jerseys due to a mistake in an article involving their recent debut. “In a March 22 story about the Brooklyn Nets’ victory over Boston, The Associated Press mischaracterized the alternate jersey the Nets debuted. It is gray, not gay.” This could have remained a simple textbook typo, but unfortunately the Nets are also the team for which the aforementioned Jason Collins plays. Collins recently revealed that he is facing anti-gay sentiment out on the court, making the timing of this mistake a real case of foot-in-mouth.
Pat Garofalo’s now-infamous racists tweet about the NBA
Social media has democratized the power of opinion: everyone gets one, but not everyone should share his. Minnesota State Representative Pat Garofalo, a Republican, let loose a tasteless tweet earlier this month: “Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.” It has since been deleted. Initially, he stuck by his story and claimed that his words were misinterpreted. Finally, he raised the white flag in a statement. “I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized. The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize,” he said.
Words fail Bob Knight
This one hails from the world of college basketball. The NBA is accused of many things, but to say it has committed “rape” is not using language effectively nor correctly. Retired NCAA and Olympic basketball coach Bob Knight was being interviewed when the topic steered toward the NBA’s controversial “one and done” policy. “On top of it all, the NBA does a tremendous, gigantic disservice to college basketball. It’s as though they’ve raped college basketball in my opinion,” Knight said on Mike & Mike earlier this week. The channel’s official response? “We spoke with him. ESPN regrets the use of the word,” said a spokesman in a statement to USA Today. It’s not the first time Knight has gone off the rails regarding rape. In a 1988 interview with Connie Chung, he tells her how he handles stress: “I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” There are no words.