I just finished reading Chris Vernon's blog, where he basically says that we here at 3 Shades of Blue are in Michael Heisley's back pocket because we defended him, rather than taking Adrian Wojnarowski's column at face value. I don't think that's a fair label, given that we have been vocally critical of Heisley's tenure as owner on several occasions since starting this blog. Allow me to go step-by-step in offering a rebuttal to Verno's post.
I am mentioned as giving Adrian a forum so that he could get his "fifteen minutes." Adrian is an award-winning journalist who has worked for a lot of newspapers, espn.com, etc. He is also the author of one of the greatest sports books ever "The Miracle at St. Anthony." At 3 Shades of Blue they assume that Adrian is some blogger trying to make a name for himself and by misquoting Heisley it makes it hard for other legit bloggers. Hahahahahahhahaa. Oh for goodness sakes. The guy has been on the NY Times Bestsellers list and he is trying to make a name for himself talking about the freaking Grizzlies? Come on. 3 Shades trash Adrian and stick up for Heisley.
Unlike myself, Chip does not read every single piece of NBA-related information that passes across the tubes we like to call the internet. This is probably because he has a life and I don't. However, because of this, he was completely unaware of who Wojnarowski was (or who he even wrote for) and went with the description that Heisley gave him...because Heisley believed that Wojnarowski was a blogger just like us at 3SoB. That's right -- Heisley had no idea who Woj2 was when conversing with him a few days ago. I know who Woj2 is and even mentioned having previously had a great deal of respect for him in my response to his column yesterday morning. I have read his columns for years and own copies of both The Miracle of St. Anthony (currently in my library) and Jimmy V: The Life and Death of Jim Valvano (pre-ordered on Amazon.com). Rest assured, I know who the man is. However, I also knew that Heisley is prone to speaking off-the-cuff about things in a manner that could very easily be perceived in a manner out of context with how he actually intended them to be conveyed. That's why I was willing to step out there and take issue with the column, even though I knew it wouldn't be a very popular move. I saw things being presented in a light that was the opposite of what we had been told upon interviewing Heisley not that long ago and wanted to point that out. I didn't see it as "sticking up for Heisley" so much as sticking up for journalistic integrity (something most bloggers don't consider often enough) and making sure that the truth was being represented. If that makes me "Heisley's boy", then so be it. Unlike Chip, I've never met the man, so I can say that he hasn't had any direct influence on me. Also, I hate for Chris to paint all of us on 3 Shades of Blue with the same brush, given that there are 4 writers (and one fantastic genius) with distinct and unique viewpoints. That's something we're proud of here -- we offer opinions from every viewpoint, rather than just one.
I am not writing anything that I have not already talked to Chip from 3 Shades about. Do I believe that Adrian misquoted Heisley or took him out of context? No. Do I agree with all of the opinions Adrien had in the article? No. Do I think that Heisley regrets what he said? Yes. Do I know that the CA will soon come out and defend him too? I would be shocked if they did not. What I told Chip is that just because Heisley says something does not mean that it is true and that you have to stick up for him. In fairness, maybe they believe him (Lord, I hope not).
What would be so bad about believing Heisley? What has he been dishonest about during his time in Memphis? Again, I'm not defending his moves and direction of the team as the owner -- I'm just wondering why it is that everyone has painted him as an evil person who will lie, cheat and steal to achieve some sinister goal. I haven't seen any evidence of that to this point -- but if someone has such evidence, I will surely be more than willing to examine it.
You may not get the access if you call him out, I get that. I understand not biting the hand that feeds you. It is a legimate concern for anyone that reports on things. You have to weigh what is more important, access or objectivity? I struggle with it too. Now Heisley has the best Grizzlies blog and the local paper pumping his PR and sticking up for him. I am a big fan of the 3 Shades blog and have mentioned that many times, not to mention that I have met most of the authors and they all seem like nice guys (and they have been pretty nice and fair with me). Sad day I say. Heisley is killing the franchise, Adrian Wojnarowski isn't.
He is speaking the truth here. If we start blaming Heisley for everything that goes wrong with the franchise -- as Verno has been known to do in recent history -- then we might not get the same level of access to him and he almost assuredly won't be calling us from halfway across the world to give us the "real story" first. Of course, the only reason he agreed to be interviewed by us in the first place was because he disagreed with something we wrote and wanted to set the story straight on that issue. That's right -- he let us interview him because he didn't like us, not because he particularly enjoyed our little corner of the internet.
Verno says that Heisley is killing the franchise. I say that what is really killing the franchise can in no way be blamed on just one man. After all, did Heisley do something to make fan support start to dwindle after the magical 50-win season? Did Heisley convince Jason Williams, James Posey and Bonzi Wells to become overwhelming distractions on a playoff team? Was Heisley responsible for Pau Gasol's injury in the World Championships or Damon Stoudamire's knee injury? Did Heisley handpick who we drafted and signed over the past 7 years? Did Heisley create the "Memphis Mentality", where everyone wants everything given to them on a silver platter and believes that they are entitled to a title contender immediately without having to suffer through any of the normal growing pains? I'm fairly confident that the answer to all of those questions is a firm "No".
With that said, is Heisley completely blameless for the disconnect that fans feel with the franchise or with the below average product that has been put on the floor the past two seasons? No. But that's a post for another day -- and believe me it will be coming soon. I just wanted to illustrate that just because we don't believe that Michael Heisley is the second coming of Goldfinger doesn't mean that we don't disagree with things he has said, suggested or ordered. If Chris really wants to find out how true that is, then he knows how to get in touch with us and I'll be more than happy to spend a few minutes on his show explaining just what those things are.