Anatomy of a Trade (Story):
Here's what happened:
In the NBA version of "Mission: Impossible's" self-destructing messages, both GMs say the other called him, standard practice since the invention of the telephone.
Whoever made this exploratory call, that ended that ... almost.
All over but the shouting: ESPN's Chris Broussard reported "preliminary discussions about a blockbuster trade." Cell phones on the Lakers beat started ringing like the Hot Line from Moscow.
With the advantage of years developing Lakers sources — as opposed to trusting a single source, like the one who assured everyone 'Melo was New Jersey-bound — local writers got denials across the board and, significantly, nothing suggesting player personnel VP Jim Buss doesn't still dote on Bynum.
If some Lakers wanted a 'Melo-and-Al-Harrington-for-Bynum-and-Ron-Artest deal, the front office and coaches didn't.
By the way, Jim's right. Bynum remains their key. If they're big, slow and don't defend, what part does 'Melo address?
That ended that ... almost.
Morning (gag) in America: In a major dog-and-pony show even for ESPN, "SportsCenter" spent its first six minutes on the DOA report the next morning.
•Would 'Melo and wife La La Vazquez like it here? (They have a house in Malibu. Guess.)
•Would 'Melo fit with Kobe Bryant? (If not, Kobe would bite off his head at the neck.)
•Would someone take Artest? (Maybe in an alternate universe.)
"Nice little story for us!" Hannah Storm chirped. "Post-Super Bowl, but here we've got 'Melo maybe going to the defending champs. This is great stuff!"
(What Hannah meant was, they had zip before launching this paper airplane.)
"It never ends in the NBA anymore," Broussard said. "After 'Melo, we'll move on to somebody else, believe me."
I believe you.
"Chris Broussard updates all day long," Storm sang. "On ESPNLA.com, weigh in ... Should the Lakers, two-time defending champs, make a move?"
Old school is out: "Don't hate the playa, hate the game," Ice-T wrote in a principle extending beyond South Central. This isn't even about ESPN but the technology and the media-wide fight to survive.
Storm, Sage Steele and Josh Elliott are great anchors. Broussard is a friend who came up through the New York Times.
Leveling growth rates at ESPN led to a new urgency to make news ... such as LeBron James' special, which bosses subsequently apologized to staffers for.
Oh, and James no longer talks to ESPN.
A newspaper reporter this wrong would have a lot of explaining to do. At ESPN — NBA partner and ally of CAA, the movie star agency pushing 'Melo's move — Broussard was on the cutting edge where he was supposed to be.
The story is now gone — except on the Big Talk Show from Bristol, where its pratfall morphed into Lakers Trip May Decide if They Trade Bynum.
Next: ESPNLA.com asks Lakers fans if they've seen Bigfoot!