Over the last few weeks, ESPN’s resident NBA draft expert Chad Ford has made some troubling assessments about Louisville’s Terrence Williams. On at least two separate occasions, Ford has alluded to both on and off-court concerns about the former Cardinals player. You can catch yourself up here, if you are so inclined. I’ve taken a strong interest in Ford’s somewhat unflattering characterization of Williams because I cannot, for the life of me, think of a single incident that would warrant such a portrayal. I’m trying not to get too troubled by this, but I do think it’s awfully unfair to continually file reports about a player that call his character into question, but offer no explanation for the events that made the question necessary.
Anyway, I decided to ask Ford about this directly. Because of either incompetence or unavailability, I could not find Ford’s professional e-mail address, so I submitted my question in his chat. It read roughly like the following:
Mr. Ford, you’ve written several times that Terrence Williams has had both on and off-court issues. I cannot, however, think of a single incident that would support this assessment. Could you please elaborate? Thank you.
Well, if you clicked the chat link, you will notice that my question did not make the cut. Despite this post’s somewhat obnoxious title, I’m temporarily willing to believe that Ford was inundated with questions of superior quality and greater urgency. So, I’m not terribly upset just yet. This is not, however, the end of my small quest. I do plan on asking this question with the same balance of courtesy and curiosity in future chats.
It may seem like needless nitpicking, but I do think this situation raises some potentially serious questions about journalistic responsibility and public scrutiny. If Ford’s e-mail address is unavailable to the public and he gets to choose which questions he answers in his chats, then there is a worrisome lack of accountability that needs examination. Ford’s editor fits in here somewhere, but I don’t know how exactly. In any case, I think this is a worthwhile discussion, because the subject of debate is an individual’s character. It’s not his jump shot, rebounding, or passing ability, all of which can be evaluated subjectively. Ford is raising questions about a person’s behavior, habits, and judgment. The criticism of these qualities necessitates supporting evidence. We’re not there yet, but if such criticism can be made without pressure to elaborate, then we should all be a little troubled.