Imagine a writer for Forbes asking Bill Gates why he didn't dump a whole bunch of Microsoft stock before his company announced disappointing earnings.
Now, imagine that these people are so unaware of their lack of knowledge - knowledge that they should have, as "experts" -- that they actually brag about it. That they celebrate their ignorance, and display it to as many people as they can reach, instead of hiding it.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel.
This morning, Mr. Bianchi wrote a column about LeBron's future with the Cavaliers. According to Bianchi, that future does not exist. Cleveland fans have seen Bianchi's tired act a million times already - LeBron is leaving Cleveland when his contract expires, he wants to play in a major market like New York, there's no way he will extend his contract and remain a Cavalier.
And then for good measure, Bianchi caps off his rant with some cheap shots at the city of Cleveland. Yes, it snows here. Yes, the Browns are awful. Yes, the Indians haven't won a title in years. (As opposed to the Age of Glory currently being enjoyed by Orlando's baseball and football teams, of course.)
Really, there's no need to address the Cleveland comments. Any idiot can run smack against another city, particularly one he's likely never visited before. I could point out that I'm not fond of Orlando. It's a swamp with mouse ears. At least half of the city's jobs consists of wiping up puke from the kids of tourists. Singing "M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E" qualifies as a major cultural achievement. I wouldn't take a condo there if you gave it to me (and in the current Florida real estate market, I'd still be paying too much). See how easy it is?
Bianchi also beats his chest with pride about how the Magic had three players selected to the All-Star Game, as opposed to the Cavs having only one - as though that is some sort of measure of the teams' relative worth. Mike, here's the deal: you folks down there in Orlando get excited about what happens in January and February; up here in Cleveland, we get excited about what happens in May and June.
(Oh, you're not aware that they still play basketball in June? No problem; I can see why Magic fans would think that. Central Florida hasn't seen late-spring hoops since Shaq left for Los Angeles. It must warm your hearts to know that the best player in your team's history had to leave Orlando in order to win a handful of NBA titles. Not to mention that Orlando didn't have the level of cultural depth necessary for top-drawer movies like Kazaam.)
But that's not why I called. As Cavs fans, we're used to the constant hum of out-of-town "experts" chuckling that LeBron will leave Cleveland, and that the city may as well cease to exist once that happens. As Clevelanders, we've heard far too many wisecracks aimed at the city. (Why not trot out the tired old burning river jokes while you're at it?) Those comments, by themselves, do not deserve any response. Cleveland-bashers are a dime a dozen. If that's what Bianchi needs to do to put food on his family's table ... so be it.
What really caught my eye was Bianchi's support for his position. In his article, Bianchi reveals that he asked James why he (James) has not yet signed an extension with the Cavaliers. Bianchi then touts that "failure" to sign an extension as proof positive that LeBron is LeGone once 2010 rolls around. To top it off, he compares LeBron's situation to Dwight Howard's, pointing out that Howard signed an extension with the Magic.
There is just one tiny problem with Bianchi's analysis: the NBA's collective bargaining agreement does not allow LeBron James to sign an extension today. He will not be eligible to sign an extension with the Cavaliers until this July, after the three-year anniversary of the extension that he signed with the Cavs (that's right, Mr. Bianchi; LeBron has already re-signed with the Cavs once before) in 2006.
I repeat, despite the very real risk of tiring Mr. Bianchi's lips: LeBron could not sign an extension with the Cavaliers today if he wanted to. It is not allowed under the league's rules. LeBron could say "I want to sign a contract that will make me a Cavalier for the rest of my life, and when I die, I will be buried in a wine-and-gold colored coffin"; it would make no difference.
Nor does Howard's situation offer him any support. Howard was not eligible to sign an extension until 2007. And just like LeBron, he would not be able to sign another extension today, even if he wanted to be a Magic (what is it with these teams and their nicknames that can't be pluralized, anyway?) for the rest of his career. Why? Say it with me, everybody: because the rules don't allow it.
Bianchi's column betrays a shocking lack of knowledge about the exact subject matter that is supposed to be his zone of expertise. What's more shocking is that he is a member of the "established", mainstream media - presumably, the people who should know the lay of the land. The NBA's rules on contract extensions are not hidden or obscure; this is material that anybody who claims to cover the NBA should know.
The astounding ignorance begs the question: does Bianchi know anything about the other topics he writes about? Or is this par for the course for him?
It is irritating enough when a member of the media acts arrogantly and has to resort to weak insults just so he has something to file before his deadline.
It's much worse when that arrogance masks complete ignorance about the subject he is supposed to know.