On Tuesday, the New York Daily News published a story titled “76ers’ Brett Brown is heading for coaching purgatory.” Penned by veteran NBA reporter Chris Sheridan, it talked about the turmoil that appears to be eating away at the Philadelphia Sixers’ organization as head coach Brett Brown coaches for his job in the NBA Playoffs.
Following the publishing of the article, the organization went on the offensive. Sixers Vice President of Communications Dave Sholler tweeted through it, calling the article “one of the most irresponsible hack jobs I’ve ever seen in more than a decade of working in sports.”
This is one of the most irresponsible hack jobs I’ve ever seen in more than a decade of working in sports. Factual inaccuracies, made-up stories, and references to convos that never happened. This is a steaming pile of trash. Steaming. Pile.
— Dave Sholler (@DaveSholler) April 17, 2019
In the original version of the story, Sheridan wrote that Ben Simmons had been out in Miami with Kendall Jenner prior to missing a game in Orlando. The story has since been updated to say that Simmons was in Orlando at the time. Aside from that, the sordid details and sourced information remains the same.
Crossing Broad also noted that an incident between Brown and Joel Embiid mentioned in Sheridan’s article was mistakenly said to have happened in Portland but in fact, happened in San Antonio. They also said that they believed Sheridan has taken two separate incidents and combined them.
Whether or not those issues and the blowback from the story was enough to strain the relationship between Sheridan and Daily News is unclear. According to a Crossing Broad source, it was enough that the paper cut ties with Sheridan altogether. However, they also spoke with Kyle Wagner, who took over the New York Daily News sports department in January, to confirm those details. And Wagner told them that Sheridan was a freelancer and would not confirm their source’s report that they’d cut ties with him.
Meanwhile, Sheridan took to Twitter to deny that his relationship with the Daily News was over, stating simply, “The report on CrossingBroad is inaccurate.”
The report on CrossingBroad is inaccurate. I am still with @NYDNSports.
— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) April 18, 2019
Sheridan also penned a follow-up article on Heavy.com Thursday in which he responded to Sholler’s criticism and backed up the claims he’d made in the original piece.
Sholler is the Vice President of Communications for Harris-Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, the conglomerate that runs the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center, and renowned esports franchise Team Dignitas, according to Sholler’s Linked In profile.
So the guy makes a lot of money, and it is his job to protect his bosses, put out fires and try to control the message.
Sholler’s inability to do so with dignity in response to the New York Daily News story concerning internal turmoil within the Philadelphia 76ers was a dead giveaway that the story was right on the money.
It’s hard to know what the truth is from the outside at the moment. Perhaps we’ll find out soon enough if Sheridan’s byline appears in the Daily News in the coming days. It’s also hard to tell if the Sixers’ camp’s claims are based on legitimately strong inaccuracies driving the narrative, or if they’re simply using a few mistakes to mute fair reporting of what’s happening behind the scenes. It’s hard to tell if they’re trying to prevent a false narrative from propagating or trying to squash the actual narrative.
As usually happens, we’ll see how things play out in the coming days and likely get our answer one way or another.