Mar 18, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) reacts against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Miami won 100-96. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Bad Journalism Report: LeBron James possibly returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers

Even if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you would still somehow know that the Cleveland Cavaliers are very much so involved in courting LeBron James in free agency. With names like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade floating around in the FA pool and All-Stars like Kevin Love potentially being shopped, the 2014 offseason has made for one of the craziest summers in recent NBA memory. But why even play with those names; LeBron has been the most talked about athlete person ever since the 2014 Finals ended in a San Antonio Spurs victory.

Recently, LeBron has been the most talked about athlete in Cleveland. After opting out of his contract in Miami, thus testing the free agency market, the possibility of the self-proclaimed King returning home has become more and more likely by the day. Let’s be honest, though; a LeBron return has been “in the making” even dating back to during the 2013-14 season. No one knew if LBJ was going to opt out of his contract and test free agency until after the Finals ended, but it was always a possibility that was kept in the back of Cleveland fans’ minds.

So exactly how many “hints” were thrown at Cleveland fans regarding a triumphant – or the exact opposite of triumphant depending on your opinion of a player who upped and left a title-deprived city to win “multiple” championships – return of LeBron James? I won’t put an exact number on it, but let’s just say it was a lot. There’s a reason that we here at Right Down Euclid didn’t post every airplane tracker, encounter with Zydrunas Ilgauskas or “trusted” media member’s opinion on this particular situation. When it comes down to it, it was purely an ethical decision here at RDE. With Twitter getting ever so popular by the year, everyone wants to be the first one to break the news instead of being the one to report correct news. Retweets and favorites mean more to people than credibility, obviously. It seems nowadays that those who make false reports aren’t held accountable for being wrong for the sake of possibly being first.

Who are the ones making these reports? Non-journalists who have nothing to put on the line:

Not even a “sources” accreditation? This is all purely just opinion; but wait, it gets better:

Dan Gilbert stepping back from his role as an owner? We should’ve stopped believing this pedestrian after that comment. It makes me sad that some of my journalism peers took Teplitz’s story and ran with it. If the blogging world wants to be taken seriously, we need to start realizing that our job is to prove to people that they can trust us. A lot of people have short memories when it comes to being wrong on a story, even ones that carry as much weight as LeBron returning to Cleveland. So let’s try and trace this story back to the beginning of summer, shall we?

It was all good just a month ago, and then news of Anderson Varejao having a discussion with LeBron about returning to Cleveland “later” hit the Interwebs, and that’s when things started to get out of hand. But we can trace this back even further. In May news broke that LeBron would be sending his kids, Bryce and LeBron, Jr., to Bath, Ohio to attend school. This should’ve been taken with a grain of salt, but obviously it wasn’t. LeBron has very close ties to his hometown of Akron, so the family’s decision to send the two to a school near his hometown shouldn’t have been directly linked to rumors of LBJ returning. Sorry, a story like this just isn’t enough to get us here at RDE to believe that the King wants to be back in Cleveland. And then LeBron’s family got even more involved in the media. LeBron’s wife, Savannah Brinson, announced on Instagram that she would be returning to Akron via a photo of the state of Ohio. Right away people jumped to the conclusion that LeBron’s wife leaked the information that her husband would be returning with her to play for the Cavs once again. WRONG. LeBron’s wife is pregnant and she was returning to her hometown for the summer; a place that she has familial and homegrown ties to, much like her husband. Just an obscure interpretation, in my opinion. Much like how this particular LBJ shoe design had Cavs fans/bloggers speculating to their fullest once again:

Next came a report that we could all really trust: Agent to Heat: LeBron opting out. Most assumed, even the Miami Heat front office, that LeBron was going to opt out of his contract in order for the Heat to work out their salary cap problems at the end of the 2013-14 season. Then speculation got crazy, once again. Remember that report stating that Varejao and LeBron would talk “later?” Well, one day after opting out, LeBron started to follow Andy on Instagram. Remember LeBron’s promise about not being on social media for the whole entire playoffs and being focused? Maybe it had something to do with that; but that’s my own “speculation.”

Now this is the point in the LeBron James 2014 Free Agency Saga where things got really desperate for bloggers in my eyes. Call it whatever you want: Gilbert’s Plane, Gilbert Gate, O.J. Simpson Part II, etc. I was on social media for almost all of Sunday, and all I was seeing from my Cleveland Cavalier blogging peers was information about Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s plane being tracked because it was heading to Ft. Lauderdale. Normally I would applaud people using a tool such as Flight Aware to find out where someone important is heading because of a story they were writing. (This is something that I picked up on in my Journalism Ethics classes during my freshmen and sophomore years at Ohio University). But, again, it felt like Cavs fans/bloggers were falling for something that wasn’t a story at all. “Dan Gilbert’s plane is flying to Ft. Lauderdale! He’s most likely with Big Z, GM David Griffin and head coach David Blatt trying to make a BIG pitch to the King.” Embarrassing for the most part, because not only was Dan (and others for that matter) not on the plane, but it’s really not uncommon for people like Gilbert to send other employees on his company-owned plane. Just a coincidence, but because it “lined up,” Cavs Twitter went crazy:

Who really knows who was on the plane. What we do know is that Jason Lloyd, one of the best Cavs writers out there, reported that, “One source with knowledge of Gilbert’s inner workings said the Cavs owner, who has a hand in more than 70 companies, has regular business in South Florida. But did any of the people that reported that it was Gilbert, Griffin, Z and/or Blatt on the plane take any punishment for their wrongful reports? Of course not. Shortly after Gilbert’s plane was being tracked, the owner had it removed from Flight Aware.

Something that became a little more believable, and was actually true, regarding the LeBron returning to Cleveland scenario was the tearing down of Gilbert’s lovely letter to James and the city of Cleveland following “The Decision.” In case you didn’t know what the note said, this is how it read:

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

Dan Gilbert

Majority Owner

Cleveland Cavaliers

But even this news should’ve been taken very lightly and should’ve been researched even deeper than it originally was. So SB Nation, one of the best sports blogs out there, did their due diligence in finding out exactly why and when the letter was removed from the site:

‘The letter was removed years ago from the website, but over the last week, it was discovered that it still existed from this external link to a stagnant archived page,’ Cavaliers director of communications Tad Carper told SB Nation. ‘It was on the content management system platform that was used back in 2010.’

As far as speculation reports go — starting from Teplitz all the way down to the removal of Gilbert’s infamous letter to LeBron — these were the worst and most upfront of them all. But even late last night fans and bloggers were speculating whether or not the color scheme at a Nike banquet, hosted by a Cavs DJ mind you, meant that LeBron James would be returning. Coincidences ruled over actual sources:

But are actual journalists even to be trusted in this day and age of media? Sources are hardly ever named, and sometimes people will take an opinion of a reporter as fact like many did after this Chris Broussard tweet:

So what has all of this caused? For starters, the Cavaliers jumped from 40-1 odds to win the 2014-15 NBA championship to 10-1 odds at the MGM, according to ESPN. But the real downfall from all of this has been the majority of people jumping on the opinions of others — some journalists and some non-journos — instead of waiting for trusted reporters like Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and Brian Windhorst of ESPN to bring us non-biased and rational reporting. Remember, these guys actually have something to put on the line because it is their job to correctly report the news to their best ability. If they aren’t able to do this, then they get fired; simple as that. So, in case you weren’t able to see what these guys had to say due to all of the irrational opinions that were flooding the Twittersphere, let’s take a quick look before we wrap this lesson up. Here is a great post by Amico showing everything that he knows from his sources about what the Cavaliers have been up to and might be up to this offseason. In this report Amico states that the Cavs have been told to expect a decision from LeBron James’ camp by Wednesday, the same day that he will be meeting up with Heat president Pat Riley and teammate Dwyane Wade. The time of the meeting? Well, Portland Trail Blazers beat reporter Chris Haynes has that covered for us:

Then he moved on to touching base on Kyrie Irving’s involvement in courting LeBron. According to ESPN, Kyrie has already reached out to James about coming back to Cleveland, but nothing more was revealed about that interaction besides a text message from Irving to a friend that said that big things are about to happen in Cleveland. Then there’s information that we know for sure. Amico also included in his post about the recent Heat signings of Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts. What we don’t know is if this move was made to lure James in or cover themselves in case LeBron decides to go elsewhere with his talents. Other than reports coming out about that James would wear No. 32 if he were to return to the Cavs, Amico had this rational thought to share after the Jarrett Jack, Sergey Karasev and Tyler Zeller trade went down:

Another source that we can really trust is Wojnarowski, arguably the best at reporting breaking NBA news. On July 7, Wojnarowski received a report that LeBron’s Cleveland-based agent, Rich Paul, was pushing for the Cavaliers to land James with a max contract offer. Not a big shock, as Paul has been quoted in the past as wanting LeBron to return to Cleveland. Woj also had more rational and sourced thoughts to offer up regarding the Cavs shedding cap space on Wednesday by dealing three Cavaliers:

Lastly, Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops — another actual writer whom you can trust — offered up this about how LeBron’s announcement will come out:

A plugged-in source tells me there is a 90 percent chance that LeBron James will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it will be announced on if it happens.

So, as more reports come out there are two very important things that we need to remember: 1. Never speculate, because most of the time things that are put under a microscope end up being purely coincidental and 2. It’s better to wait, be sure and report news correctly than wanting to be the first one out the gate. I’m not saying that LeBron James to Cleveland won’t happen; I’m saying be smart about what you believe instead of trying to be relevant.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Free Agency Lebron James

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