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Mazurek: Media leaks hurt team dynamics

| Friday, January 26, 2018

As a journalist, I love to know stuff as soon as possible.

I want to know as soon as my favorite teams hire coaches, sign players or make any decisions.

And it irks me when teams and other institutions delay the release of information, especially when speculation flies about hirings and firings. Organizations being up front and transparent is a big plus in my book.

But there are a few instances when I appreciate prudence in making information available.

Like Monday afternoon, when the Milwaukee Bucks fired head coach Jason Kidd.

Kidd had been on the receiving end of much criticism in recent weeks, and many felt the Bucks were underachieving given the talent on the roster.

When ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Kidd had been fired, it wasn’t a big shock. A lot of people around the league saw it coming, and a lot of Bucks fans were very happy.

The only problem was that Jason Kidd didn’t. In fact, star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo learned about the move and called Kidd offering to help save his job before the Bucks officially told Kidd he was gone.

That’s too bad.

I get that sports is a business and tough business decisions have to be made to appease fan bases, but should Kidd have to learn about his firing from his players? Or even worse, from an ESPN reporter on Twitter? Could the Milwaukee leadership not be troubled to break the life-altering news face-to-face? Or at the very least, by phone?

Someone in the Bucks upper management tipped off Wojnarowski before they even told Kidd, and that isn’t right. It reflects poorly on the Bucks and hopefully gives pause to other coaches looking to take Kidd’s place.

Kidd was an NBA All-Star as a player and had done an admirable job with a young Bucks team. He deserved better. He deserved to be able to break the news to his family. General manager Jon Horst’s letter to the fans offering an explanation for Kidd’s firing would have been nice, but with the organization not having the decency to tell him before the news broke, the gesture rings hollow.

But the Bucks aren’t alone.

Just last week, Charlotte Hornets star guard Kemba Walker found out that he was actively on the trade block through media reports, instead of through the team.

According to Jordan Schultz, Walker was “legitimately hurt” by the news, and he has a right to be. He’s given nothing but his best efforts in Charlotte and has drawn fans to a struggling team with no other bright spots.

Again, I understand that sports at the professional level is a business before anything else. Players and coaches are traded and fired at the drop of a hat.

But in a business, players aren’t fired or relocated over social media. The manager calls you into their office and tells you the news. There may be tears, but there’s also justification given and at least you don’t hear it from your co-workers or friends.

Some may choose to point blame at the media for these leaks, but reporters like Wojnarowski don’t report without a source. If you criticize Wojnarowski, and others like him, for not waiting until official word in reporting hirings and firings and for their willingness to use anonymous sources, there’s a point to be made.

But Wojnarowski knew Kidd was fired because someone in the Bucks organization told him. He knew Walker was put on the trade block because someone in the league told him.

I don’t fault Wojnarowski for reporting information. I don’t fault the Bucks for firing Kidd or the Hornets for wanting to trade Walker.

It would just be nice if teams could tell the parties involved before they tip off the media. It’s the decent thing to do.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

Contact Marek