Adam Zagoria on Kyrie Irving, Recruiting, and Social NetworkingPosted by nvr1983 on October 27th, 2009
When Adam Zagoria, a writer for SNY.tv and ZagsBlog.com, broke the news last Tuesday night about super-recruit Kyrie Irving‘s committing to Duke (note: initial report did not have Irving’s denial and had Chris Collins named in place of “[a Duke assistant]“) reaction across the blogosphere varied from ecstatic to negative after Irving denied Zagoria’s reports. After Irving eventually officially committed to Duke on an orchestrated ESPNU ceremony less than 48 hours after his initial denials and told multiple media outlets that he had decided on Duke long before he went on ESPNU several media members (Seth Davis and Gary Parrish being the most prominent) felt that Irving owed Zagoria an apology. We were a little more measured and felt that the entire episode reflected more of the circus that is college basketball recruiting. Since that time, the issue of the interaction between Zagoria (the journalist) and Irving (the recruit) has grown increasingly contentious on message boards across the Internet so we decided to go to Mr. Zagoria and get his take on it.
Rush the Court: What kind of background do you have doing this type of stuff [covering recruiting]?
Adam Zagoria: I’ve been a sportswriter for about 15 years and I’ve been doing basketball recruiting for I guess about 5 years. I was at a newspaper, The Bergen Record and The Herald News, in New Jersey for 10 years and I’ve been at SNY for about 2 years.
RTC: I don’t know if you have been reading what they have been saying on the Duke message boards and other places like that. Have you been keeping up with that at all or do you try to avoid that stuff?
AZ: I’ve read some of it. I’m pretty busy with my other job duties, but I’m aware of it.
RTC: Ok. Could you talk a little bit about how you developed a relationship with Kyrie Irving and his family and how that came about happening?
AZ: I cover metropolitan-area basketball and I know the players and coaches at the local high schools–St. Anthony’s, St. Patrick’s, and St. Benedict’s–for a number of years so I met Kyrie going to his team’s games and going to different events.
RTC: So your relationship with him was no different than the typical star recruit in the area? Or was it a little closer than that?
AZ: I have a lot respect for Kyrie and his family. I think they’re great people and he’s a tremendous player and person. I wish him nothing, but the best going forward.
RTC: Could you tell us a little bit about what happened when you broke the story [about his commitment]?
[Brief exchange where we tried to figure what day it was--Tuesday night].
AZ: My job is to report the news and break the news. I spoke to multiple sources who confirmed for me that he would in fact be going to Duke University. That’s my job as a reporter to report the news when a story happens and that’s pretty much it.
RTC: I know you said you have read some of the message boards, but have you read Seth Davis’ story about Irving’s reaction and what he thought about it? Do you have any reaction both (1) to Kyrie’s reaction and (2) what Seth said in that article?
AZ: I understand that Kyrie had an agreement with ESPN to announce his commitment there and he was trying to keep it in suspense as much as possible up until the time of the press conference and I guess that he put out some Tweets that night that he hadn’t chosen Duke. He was just trying to keep people in suspense. I think he ended up saying that during his ESPN interview. My basic feeling is that it is a reporter’s job to report the news when it happens. Reporters aren’t in the business of enabling press conferences or anything like that. Reporters are there to report the news when they have a story.
RTC: Then going on to Seth’s story. Seth Davis kind of insinuated . . . Actually he didn’t insinuate. He actually said it in the second to last line: “At the very least, he [Kyrie Irving] should apologize to Adam Zagoria.” How do you feel about that?
AZ: I don’t think that’s for me to say. I know Seth and I believe Gary Parrish of CBS Sports both said that. I certainly appreciate their support as fellow journalists, but that’s the position that they took. I don’t necessarily feel that way. I understand that Kyrie wanted to make his announcement and break the news, but I think most people kind of figured that he was going to end up going to Duke all along and again I feel that my job as a sportswriter is to report the news when it happens. I don’t work for ESPN. I don’t get a paycheck from ESPN. If I ever did then I would break stories for ESPN. I work for SNY and that’s who I break stories for.
RTC: Do you feel that your reputation or your ability to get information from recruits or their families was in any way damaged by what happened?
AZ: I haven’t had any problems so far. I talk to a lot of coaches and recruits every day. Everyone I had relationships with I continue to talk to. I hope people understand that I have a job to do and I reported something that something that was true and that Kyrie later confirmed to be true. I think people out there have to believe that the stories they hear from reporters are true.
RTC: One of the big stories this off-season (I guess there really is no off-season for recruiting) has been social networking, and I guess Kyrie is kind of at the head of the movement with this. How do you think social networking will impact the recruiting industry–people like you who cover the choices the recruits are making and what kind of trips they are taking? How do you think social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter will affect your ability to cover news and break stories in the future?
AZ: First of all, I definitely agree that Kyrie was on the cutting-edge of technology. I think he was one of first high-profile recruits to get on Twitter. He developed several thousand followers who were interested in his Tweets. He did those USTREAM interviews, which were very cutting-edge and developed a lot of interest. I think the technology complicates things for everybody not just me. I mean any recruit now can break a commitment or a list. Anyone can break any kind of news via Twitter and in a way that gets rid of the need for journalism in some ways. I mean if Shaquille O’Neal or Kyrie Irving can break news on Twitter that takes out the need for reporters.
RTC: Do you feel it threatens your job or the industry?
AZ: Yeah. I think there more and more people trying to get involved in recruiting and break recruiting news. There are more and more outlets for people to break their commitments whether it is by Twitter or Facebook or various websites or newspaper or TV stations. So the more of those things that develop the more different ways that news can be broken and commitments can be broken. I personally don’t feel threatened in any way by that. There is always going to be a need for reporters to provide accurate, true information and that’s what I’ll continue to do.
RTC: Is there anything else you wanted to add about the situation?
AZ: Just that I think that reporters have a job to do and people have to understand that reporters are out there trying to report the fact. When they have a story they go with it and that’s pretty much the bottom line as far as journalism goes.
RTC: Have you heard from Kyrie Irving since you broke the story?
AZ: Not since his ESPN interview.