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NBA

Scoopbrain Is A Contagious Illness

Damian Lillard gestures to the crowd during a playoff game.
Steph Chambers/Getty

Damian Lillard is reportedly unhappy with the way Portland’s coaching search went down, and is concerned that the Blazers may not be pointed toward serious championship contention, and as a result is considering forcing his way out of town. See how easy that was? It’s not even all that elegant a summary of the situation, but it takes the available information and transmits it from my brain to yours in what I dare say is a workmanlike, linear arrangement. It’s got the who, it’s got the what, and it’s got the why, and nowhere in there is there anything that would cause acute vertigo. Wow!

The Lillard report comes by way of Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, a second-tier scoopster and asker of super-dumb postgame questions, who unlike the real titans of the field has at least some history of writing coherent sentences. Portland landed on Chauncey Billups as their new replacement for Terry Stotts; almost immediately fans expressed bewilderment at the choice of a guy who financially settled a rape allegation during his playing career; Lillard, who’d reportedly participated in the lining up of coaching candidates, has every reason in the world to now distance himself from the process. But where my own imperfect summary of the Portland situation manages to include facts and proper nouns without mangling the language in a way that accidentally summons any Outer Gods, Haynes felt the need to code his in what may possibly be some sort of eldritch octameter:

“The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers’ process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player—Damian Lillard—out the door, league sources told Yahoo Sports.”

What is going on here? This arrangement of words does not reflect the way sentences are constructed anywhere outside of the very narrow field of scoop reporting. Why are these guys all so weird? Contorting the language to its absolute breaking point in order to use the passive voice in this way should be punishable with a hefty fine. If nothing else, it’s a dead giveaway that Haynes’s source is the person who’d benefit from this feeble attempt at eradicating all traces of agency. It’s not Damian Lillard is unhappy in Portland and wants out, because then it’s judgments and decisions made by a guy with a reputation to preserve; instead it’s these things beyond his control are pushing the franchise player out of Portland, as if Lillard, here just representing the franchise player archetype, is a kite being dragged southeast over the Harney Basin by a derecho.

When I am struggling to delicately phrase a difficult thought—when, say, I am trying to explain to my wife why I think it would be a good idea for my mother-in-law to stay somewhere other than our spare bedroom during a visit of any length—I do not say concerns over irreconcilable political views and certain practical incompatibilities having to do with the duration of morning showers have become factors that may push the husband—Chris Thompson—to advocate for alternate accommodation arrangements. That’s psycho shit. Scoopbrain is a disease. The constraints of access journalism torture the mind, until the demands of obscuring and gratifying sources while also beating competitors to the punch have broken down and remade a person’s language center into something capable of looking over that mess of a report and thinking, “Voila, ready for print.” Tragic.

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