Cohen: Be Careful With Trade Rumors

By Josh Cohen
August 19, 2010

ORLANDO -- The NBA offseason is like waiting on the long line before experiencing an adventure ride at an amusement park.

Although often arduous and aggravating, the wait (I called it the “Turtle Dance”) is occasionally enjoyable. Crammed with considerable anticipation and suspense, the “Turtle Dance” (I gave it this name because we inch toward the ride like a turtle) is one of the notable highlights at all theme parks.

It allows us the opportunity to not only foretell the exhilaration of any thrill ride but also chat with our family and/or friends and enjoy the outdoors.

The entire offseason in the NBA is essentially the same thing.

Generally impatient during the summer, NBA fans wait for the season to begin and speculate what the “thrill ride” or, in this case, NBA season will offer us.

Most of all, we tend to gossip about trade speculation.

It’s just like those days in high school when Person A tells Person B that Person Y broke up with Person Z for undisclosed reasons. Shortly after, Person B tells Person C that Person Y and Z broke up because Person Z likes Person X. Subsequently, Person C tells Person D, E and F during gym class that Person Y is leaving the country. And it goes on and on and on.

Trade rumors basically follow the same trend. It’s like:

  • Billy, a random person without any involvement with an NBA front office, tells Benny that Player A might get traded
  • Benny tells Susan and Rodney that Player A might get traded for Player X, Y and Z
  • Rodney, subsequently, tells Joey, Marie, Pete and the rest of his college dormitory that both sides have had “serious discussions” about the trade
  • And it goes on and on and on

Sometimes, of course, trade speculation converts into an authentic trade. For instance, there was plenty of chit-chatter since June that Al Jefferson and Hedo Turkoglu may get traded. It, in fact, happened when Jefferson was dealt to Utah and Turkoglu was sent to Phoenix last month.

But, before the trades actually happened, did anyone project Turkoglu going to the Suns? Did anyone project Trevor Ariza getting sent to the Hornets?

We, as in NBA fans, are all guilty of being at least somewhat addicted to trade rumors. What NBA extremist doesn’t go to sports web sites when they first turn their computers on and see if there is any new buzz out there?

We are all very gullible and easily persuaded. I don’t claim to be a psychologist, but I think people tend to accept a statement as true before analyzing where the statement originated from.

I don’t think it is a bad thing to watch ESPN, for example, or read a credible newspaper and believe what the reporters are telling us. It’s their job to relay facts to us and our job as viewers and readers to be informed.

But, many times, especially in today’s day and age with innumerable social networking options available to us, we accept information from just about any source and conclude it to be at least somewhat accurate.

I, nonetheless, think the architecture of sports, especially in the NBA, is just as exciting and attention-grabbing as the actual games are. As a result, I agree that we should be entertained by trades, free agent signings and other transactions.

I think, moreover, that it is only natural for every NBA fan to start imagining what it would be like if Carmelo Anthony and/or Chris Paul were traded and what Denver and New Orleans would want in return for these superstars.

However, to be an unbiased NBA follower, it’s essential to be “realistic” about trade possibilities and not endorse trade rumors that clearly are one-sided and illegitimate.

I remember, for instance, when I was kid growing up in the New York area in the mid-90’s and on one of the local sports talk radio stations Knicks fans were promoting acquiring Charles Barkley for Charles Oakley and Greg Anthony. This would have been awesome for the Knicks, but did they honestly think Phoenix, the team Barkley was on at the time, would deal its best player for Oakley and Anthony?

Trade speculation is, undoubtedly, entertaining and compelling. Packed with enduring drama and imagination, trade rumors are inevitably going to enter our sports conversations. But, before accepting a rumor as true or promoting an illegitimate trade proposal as reasonable, let’s all understand that trades in the NBA are a much more intricate subject than some seem to want to believe.

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