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Who are the real rumor mongers?

With three days between games, it's slow going for Pistons news. Chris McCosky took this time to address the ever-present Kevin Garnett trade rumors:

Q. Why won't all these Kevin Garnett trade rumors go away?

A. Here's my theory on rumors and human nature. Fantasy is more fun than reality. It's why blogs and chatrooms are so popular. People sit in there and weave all kinds of dreams and scenarios. And if enough people talk about something, it takes on life.

And once it has life, people don't want reality to intercede.

The Timberwolves owner came out and said, emphatically, he wasn't trading Garnett and never had any plans to do so. Kevin McHale, vice president of basketball operations, said he had no talks with any team regarding Garnett and wouldn't entertain them anyway.

Garnett came out and said he "was" Minnesota and saw himself playing his entire career there. Pistons president Joe Dumars said he hadn't had any discussions with the Timberwolves regarding Garnett. He went so far as to say that, barring an unforeseen crisis, he would not trade any of the starting players this season.

He goes on and on, but I'll let you read it for yourself since he basically just starts repeating himself. Well, repeating himself, and then ripping on everyone that perpetuates this rumor, including "bogus Web sites," "random blogs," and even "ESPN.com", who peddle their wares in the "rumor fantasy-business" while he, as a real journalist, lives in a pretty white castle working in the "reality business." Not that he's overly animated on the subject or anything.

Eh, whatever.

Newspapers are hardly innocent when it comes to perpetuating rumors. In today's Detroit News alone, there's the above Q&A with McCosky talking about the rumors, not to mention another fluff piece by McCosky talking about how Garnett almost came to U-M. If it's such a non-issue, why waste so much time talking about Garnett? I mean, the Pistons don't face the Timberwolves for another two months.

The answer is simple, and I don't think I've ever heard it so eloquently expressed until reading this interview with Mark Cuban in yesterday Miami Herald:

You are always holding the media accountable, going after reporters in your blog. What is most unfair about the way you or your sport gets covered?

"Most media coverage is defined by seconds, minutes or column inches. It's tough to do a good job when they have to work backwards from volume to content. Add to that the competitive nature of media and the fact that most headlines are generated separate from the author with the goal of attracting the maximum amount of attention, and you have a recipe for less than stellar performance."

With three days between games, I'm at liberty to take it easy with fewer posts than usual. But newspapers, working from the "volume to content" mindset, need to fill space -- which is why the Detroit News posted eleven new articles online about the NBA today!

  • One about Lindsey Hunter's recovery,
  • one on Rip Hamilton's defense,
  • two on Garnett (well, one and a half -- the rest of the "Garnett to U-M" story is about players that went straight from high school to the NBA),
  • a quick piece on the top five rookies so far,
  • a set of power rankings,
  • a fluff Q&A with Flip Saunders,
  • two "around the league" type pieces,
  • a Basketball 101 piece,
  • and a breakdown of the next five games.

Some of those are useful or interesting, but let's face it, the News is simply trying to fill space. And today much more than usual -- perhaps to compete with the Free Press' weekly content dump on Wednesday. I'm not going to fault the local papers from doing so -- it's the nature of their medium -- but they shouldn't act like they're above it all.

And hey, I dismissed the Garnet for Wallace and Darko talk early on, so I did my part to stop this rumor cold.

Honestly, I think one of the reasons this story still has legs is because so many beat writers out there keep talking about it on the days between games when they're scrouging for ideas. Or worse yet, because a small handful of beat writers talk about it and it gets syndicated to seemingly every other newspaper in the nation

As much as I'd like to say otherwise, basketball blogs just don't have the same reach as the "mainstream media." So is the rumor still alive because some delusional fan with a Blogger account wants to believe it's true? Or is it still alive because newspapers need to sell papers:

Google News results

You tell me.

Garnett rumors won't die [Detroit News]
DETNEWS | Pistons-NBA [Detroit News Pistons home page]
Irreverent, and proud of it, Mavs' Cuban thriving [Miami Herald]