Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
Media Angle is a column offering perspectives on today’s media landscape from the newsmakers themselves.
NBA reporters don’t have basketball to cover these days, but Shams Charania has managed to find plenty to write about.
Charania was the first to report that the NBA would shutter all training facilities to mitigate the growing pandemic. He’s broken stories on everything from the news of Rudy Gobert and Kevin Durant testing positive for coronavirus to exclusive behind-the-scenes details of recent coaching changes, such as John Beilein stepping down from the Cleveland Cavaliers and the shock firing of Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.
Charania’s written coverage on The Athletic and Stadium also provides him with a video platform. It’s become customary for him to beat competitors from larger organizations when it comes to breaking news related to NBA trades and management shakeups, but the growing coronavirus pandemic has put a newfound spotlight on Charania’s reporting.
Speaking to Fox News' Media Angle, Charania talked about the NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s leadership, Durant’s health and the general mood of players who want to get back on the court.
MEDIA ANGLE: Just a few weeks ago a lot of people weren’t aware of the severity of the coronavirus. How big a role did the NBA play in educating the public by suspending its season?
Charania: From the moment Utah Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, I knew the league would suspend indefinitely -- and sure enough, it doing so truly began to hit the American conscience about how deep this coronavirus situation would get. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has always been on the cutting-edge, always showing his leadership to buck whatever trend is set, for the good of the league and his players and owners. This was no different. Awareness was needed.
MA: Would other sports have suspended or postponed events as quickly as they did if the NBA hadn’t suspended play? Or do you think all of the coronavirus cancellations were inevitable?
Charania: Eventually, it was all inevitable, I feel. In talking to NBA team executives and people around the league now, there is a consensus that a player testing positive was only a matter of time. The NBA and all of the pro sports leagues could have prolonged the inevitable. The NBA took its stand when one of its own players tested positive -- and set a trend for the rest of pro sports in the U.S.
MA: When you broke the news of Durant testing positive for coronavirus on Tuesday, he gave you an encouraging comment. What did his positive attitude mean to the NBA community?
Charania: His response was inspirational and its directive was very straightforward: Be careful, stay quarantined and we’re all going to get through this. It wasn’t about "I" for KD — it was about "we." He is one of the best players today and one of the best ever. For the NBA and everyone across the world, this generated the awareness that was needed.
And yes, Durant is fine; he told me he is asymptomatic and doing well.
MA: What’s the general mood of the other players you talk to?
Charania: Players, from LeBron James to other superstars and role players, all want to salvage the season along with the owners and league office. There is a lot up in the air right now, and the big question: Will there be a restart to the NBA season? Players have been told to self-quarantine for 14-plus days, and there is restlessness as well, because they all want to play as soon as possible. They all want a season and no one knows when it will resume.
MA: You cover the NBA, but what do you think about college seniors who had their tournaments canceled? Should they get additional eligibility?
Charania: There’s no question that the NCAA should allow players to receive eligibility for the lost time this season. The NCAA tournaments can have a major impact on some players’ draft stock -- and March Madness was scrapped from them all this year. The college players, seniors and otherwise, I have spoken to believe absolutely that the NCAA should be granting them all an extra year at their discretion.