An interesting part of the rise of the transaction newsbreaker (including ESPN figures like Adrian Wojnarowski, Adam Schefter, and Jeff Passan, as well as other people like Stadium/The Athletic’s Shams Charania and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport) is how many athletes in particular even seem to ascribe status to news on them coming from one of those particular sources. The latest case there comes from Milwaukee Bucks’ forward Bobby Portis (seen above during a Dec. 4 game against the Miami Heat), who was placed on the NBA COVID-19 health and safety protocol list Thursday. That was reported both nationally (by Charania and others) and locally, but it didn’t draw a particular tweet from Wojnarowski. And Portis noted that Saturday:
Damn Woj ain’t even report me being in health and safety protocol that’s tough ???
— Bobby BP Portis (@BPortistime) December 18, 2021
For his part, Wojnarowski had a pretty good response:
Sorry, People's Champ. Get out soon.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 18, 2021
This shouldn’t be seen as a big issue. Obviously, an individual insider does not tweet every single transaction that happens in their league. And whether an individual insider covers a particular move is not necessarily about the significance of the move; often, they’ll relay smaller things that they managed to get before anyone else, but won’t bother to repeat mid-range stories that are already out there. (They usually wind up at least tweeting about the really big stories even if they didn’t break them, but not necessarily the middle ones.) And Portis’ move to the list did draw plenty of national and local coverage, so it’s not like no one noted it, and his tweet reads like more of a funny note than a real grievance against ESPN or Wojnarowski.
With that said, though, there is an interesting thing to consider here from the status side. Notable news about athletes has value, which is part of why all these insiders are prominent (and, of course, they do much more than transactions, but transactions are a significant part of their role). That’s also part of why outlets like The Players’ Tribune have found success in getting big athlete news out there (although they’re usually more focused on first-person perspectives), and why schools have teamed with them for different approaches than the standard press release, and it’s part of why some athletes just break their own news on Twitter.
But the Portis commentary here illustrates the value at least some of these people see in having the top insiders talk about them. That helps explain why they don’t just tweet all their news themselves. And it also helps add some context to reports about Woj allegedly sending a pitchdeck on his social media clout versus competitors to potential sources. Portis’ news here was covered by Shams, but not by Woj, and he seems not entirely thrilled with that outcome. So maybe he and/or his agent need to take a look at that pitchdeck.
[Bobby Portis on Twitter; photo from Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports]