March 01, 2011
Among NBA players, Shane Battier(notes) has always stood out as one of the most thoughtful of the bunch. He's the kind of guy who approaches a basketball game like an intellectual problem and hopes to teach after his career is over. But Battier has feelings just like any normal human being, and they're capable of being hurt despite his rational approach to his chosen profession.
So things got a little awkward when the Rockets traded Battier to the Grizzlies last week. Because he found out from neither coach Rick Adelman nor general manager Daryl Morey, but from Twitter. Here's what he told WHBQ in Memphis, as transcribed by Sports Radio Interviews (via PBT):
"I actually found out through Twitter feeds online. Honestly, I was on one of the websites and just kept refreshing. ... As of 1:45 nothing had happened and I was like, ‘All right, I'm going to finish the year in Houston.' I hit refresh at 1:55 and it said, ‘Sources say Battier to Memphis.' I was like, ‘I better start packing.'"
It's tempting to say that the Rockets did Shane wrong here -- he was a respected teammate and a fine member of the community for almost five years. Surely Adelman or Morey could give him a call at least to inform him that a trade was likely, or even possible, and that he should start getting his affairs in order.
However, we also live in a new media landscape in which reporters' Twitter updates often move faster than what can feasibly be communicated from an executive to a player. Perhaps the Battier deal only came together in the final minutes, and reporters tweeted the rumor and its particulars as soon as they heard about it. Should a general manager be expected to inform his players about every rumor? That seems as if it'd create a situation in which players live in a constant state of paranoia, not knowing when they could be shipped out of town. Would it be worth it to make people that uncomfortable?
Battier understands this is a business and seems to have handled the trade like a professional. But it's also possible that, in the future, the way he found out about this deal will become the norm, not a sign of an organization that doesn't value its employees. In the 24-hour news cycle, updates sometimes seem to move faster than reality itself.
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