ESPN has been pushing a ton of obnoxious agendas with the NBA in the recent past. Its treatment of Zion Williamson is no red herring.
The fact that players angle to play in big markets is the worst-kept secret in American sports leagues. This could happen either by way of forced trades, or even in free agency, as it happened with LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
Now the market size may not be the sole clinching factor for those players choosing such big-name destinations. Hollywood is a big enough draw for a ton of mid-level athletes.
But LeBron is the kind of athlete who can build and break entire sports teams’ economical outlook by himself. He could just as well have chosen to play in Portland and Portland would’ve been the NBA’s hottest city.
This is the aspect of sports fandom that these major companies are wilfully brushing aside – the best athletes will always be loved. You only need to look at the NFL as an example.
Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have never played in the traditional big markets. But they’re still, by far, the biggest draws in the sport, as are the emerging QB talents in Pat Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
“ESPN wants Zion Williamson to become a Knicks player”: Ethan Strauss
Warriors beat writer Ethan Strauss wrote an article describing a few factors that play into the big market phenomenon. In his words, the issue is with how fans are kept unaware of the ‘game behind the game’:
“I dislike how much of the game behind the game is shielded from readers. For example, Creative Arts Agency (CAA) happens to represent key media personalities at ESPN NBA, which was by design, and accomplished with the subtlety and tact of the Red Wedding.”
“The way it’s presented to the consumer is the mere reporting on a rising star in New Orleans wanting to play in New York. You’re not supposed to know that ESPN wants this to happen because ESPN is CAA and CAA is ESPN, which means that CAA is the Knicks, meaning that the Knicks are ESPN.”
“You’re not supposed to know that this factors heavily into why New Orleans is shit out of luck, gumbo and jazz music be damned. In many ways, the agencies run the NBA.”