Kentucky threatens to sue, so the Sun-Times changes its story

Jeff Eisenberg
August 5, 2010

The threat of legal action from Kentucky apparently was enough to persuade the Chicago Sun-Times to turn its reckless accusations against top recruit Anthony Davis into a glowing feature.

Hours after the Sun-Times published a story on its website Wednesday citing "rumors" that Kentucky paid Davis $200,000 in exchange for his commitment, lawyers from the school sent a letter to the author insisting the story was "false and defamatory." The Sun-Times responded not just by yanking the original story off its website but by also penning a completely different story that paints Davis in a far more sympathetic light as an under-the-radar prospect suddenly thrust into the limelight.

Davis grew to 6-10 before his senior season, but no one seemed to notice that an elite national talent was playing on the South Side.

Perspectives MSA finished the season 8-15 despite a stellar season from Davis. His only scholarship offer was from Cleveland State.

In April, he joined the club team Meanstreets, founded and coached by former Thornton star and NFL wide receiver Tai Streets. After playing nationally with Meanstreets this spring and summer, Davis is considered one of the top three players in the national class of 2011, and NBADraft.net projects him as the sixth pick in the 2012 draft.

The Sun-Times certainly made the correct decision pulling its original story, but the decision to write a new story with a completely different angle seems somewhat disingenuous. Readers who only see the print edition will have no idea of the content of the previous version and will surely be left wondering why the source indicating Davis has secretly decided on Kentucky isn't mentioned until the third-to-last paragraph.

Also of note from this fiasco is the wording of the letter the Kentucky lawyers sent the newspaper.

As the guys at RushTheCourt noted Thursday morning, the second paragraph asserts "neither the University of Kentucky nor any member of its athletic department offered or paid any money or other illegal benefits to the (redacted) family." Even the most naive college basketball fans know that illegal payments typically go through third parties these days, so the wording of that sentence was likely strategic.

The most probable scenario here is that neither Davis nor Kentucky is guilty of anything, but it was smart of the lawyers to make sure the school is covered just in case.