Let’s Talk About “Sources”


Nov.. 18, 2011; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) dribbles the ball in on Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) during the first quarter of the game at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

LaMarcus Aldridge has been every eager journalist’s hot topic of convolution this offseason. Conflicting reports have flown in from every corner of the internet regarding his trade status and, quite frankly, it’s disgusting. I’m going to level with you; this is a business. Page views drive sports journalism more than actual sports sometimes. The key is not to lose your integrity with blatant misdirection.

However, it’s not always that black and white. Many reports are accurate, but not meaningful. The most common instance of this is the third party quotation; I.e.: Someone said that someone said. ALWAYS be wary of this. Have you noticed that every quote indicating Aldridge’s desires one way or the other have been made by someone not named LaMarcus Aldridge?

Most recently, Jorge Sierra at HoopsHype interviewed Nicolas Batum about Aldridge’s future with Portland:

"“I know that’s what he wants. We had two bad seasons and missed the playoffs and he wants the team to improve. I think he didn’t ask for a trade. He wants to stay and win with the Blazers. He just wants a better team around him so we can get back to the playoffs.”"

I want to make it clear that this is in no way bad journalism. There is a good chance that Aldridge will not be commenting on trade speculation for some time, if at all. The point I would like to illustrate is that you, the reader, must take this with a grain of salt. For instance, if you want to know my opinions about something, don’t ask Kevin, Jason, or Brandon. They are great guys, but they are not me.

Along those lines, Batum is not Aldridge, Olshey is not Aldridge, and some writer at the Daily Herald with a Broussardian unnamed source certainly isn’t Aldridge. Mike McGraw began the inevitable storm with this little gem:

"“Word is, Aldridge wants to escape from Portland’s rebuilding project and has made it known that he’d like to land in Chicago.”"

Ha. Now that is bad journalism. This is the sort of thing where you, as the reader, need to step back and think about how things would realistically play out vs. what will get a ton of hits on the web. If Aldridge is going to take a stance on his situation, he will do so within the Blazer organization, if not publicly on his own terms.

This is where you must take stock of things that have actually happened and make your own call. Earlier in the offseason, Chris Haynes of CSNNW reported that Aldridge’s reps met with Neil Olshey to discuss possible trade scenarios. This is documented and can be trusted. It does not necessarily mean that Aldridge wants out; it means that reasonable people have reasonable discussions. Haynes offered his own take (as he should) that, “He [Aldridge] would probably like to be moved. That’s simply what it is.”

So next time you hear tell of Aldridge’s future exploits with or without the Blazers, keep a few things in mind: Indirect quotes are not facts etched in stone, ambiguous “sources” that sound made up probably are, and being able to track events is of utmost importance. I do my best to present facts as facts, rumors as rumors, and my opinion as my opinion. Until you hear anything from the horse’s mouth, I advise a healthy degree of skepticism.

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