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Shabby Sparks Coverage; I Know, Who Cares?

By T.J. Simers

I apologize for writing about women’s basketball.

The Los Angeles Times sports pages have been doing that a lot lately, but I understand why. The Times is motivated to put its sports pages out of business and drive readers online. No better way than to offer silly stories in the newspaper on subjects that readers might ignore

That would explain Sam Farmer’s coverage from Wimbledon and the British Open.

On Wednesday the newspaper tried to make hard news out of a Sparks player leaving abruptly.

I could see a story about the fans leaving the Sparks abruptly but why would a four-time All-Star center do so?

Well, the LA Times could not provide that answer. They offered a lot of guesses, but couldn’t get to the bottom of Liz Cambage’s decision to announce a “contract divorce.”

A what? Does she get half of the Sparks in the split? Contract divorce is a new one to me, but lit I guess.

I actually read the story by Thuc Nhi Nguyen, and it was gibberish, and every reason why the Times has declined as a newspaper of record. Thuc left the Sparks off the hook, failing to report what really happened between the Sparks and Cambage.

I have seen Thuc’s byline atop a number of Sparks’ stories, so he must know the front office, head coach and other players. He wrote the story, though, like he knew no one and the reader suffers because of that.

The reason the newspaper is delivered is to give readers the inside story. If you have noticed, most Times’ stories these days stretch to almost 100 inches. That’s a lot of words to say nothing.

They just sent a reporter to Florida to write about three Chargers’ players who happened to be from Florida. Fascinating. The Times made it a three-part series with a million words. They were clearly trying to turn their readers off, something they have been doing for the last decade.

But I read the women’s basketball story, the pain overwhelming, but desperate to learn why an All-Star just suddenly quit.

The Times put the story on the first sports page below a picture of Peyton Manning and Patrick Mahomes getting pelted by thousands of superballs falling from an overhead plane.

Hey, it was a Sam Farmer story.

Now as I got to the fifth paragraph of Thuc’s story after looking at the picture of Mahomes to make sure he hadn’t been hurt, the head coach of the Sparks was quoted as saying nothing.

“Once a person gives you that verbally what she wants, you have to listen because it could be something else, could be something that’s not related to basketball.”

Where are the editors at the Times? How do they let something like that creep into the sports pages without asking Thuc, “Yeah, “But why did she leave abruptly?”

I would imagine Thuc is a young reporter, and so his editors should be helping him. If he’s old, he should quit if his job is covering the Sparks.

Now as the only reader to stick with the story as it jumped inside the sports section, that’s where we get into the BS.

“We want what’s best for Liz …” said the team’s managing partner in a press release. Come on, every team wants what is best for itself before moving on to the next player like a cat owner moves on to the next pet after their furball gets run over.

Thuc reports that the Sparks head coach later “hinted” what might be wrong with Cambage, and what does that mean? Did he give Thuc three chances to guess what she was hinting?

Thuc reported that the Sparks only made the head coach available to talk to the media, which is a sure sign something funky is going on here. Where’s Thuc? It’s his job to talk to everyone who doesn’t want to talk.

Maybe Cambage struggled mentally to contend with things, which has become a headline recently around sports, and that would be troubling. But I can’t imagine anyone receiving that news being anything but empathetic.

Thuc wrote this wasn’t the first time Cambage “has ditched a team suddenly.” Having used the word, “ditched,” I can’t imagine Thuc doing that with someone he knows to be emotionally troubled. He should know what’s going on but maybe he doesn’t.

Cambage was a former WNBA MVP, and the Sparks are on the edge of the playoffs. I would imagine Sparks fans would be interested in what caused her to abruptly leave.

They couldn’t find it in the Times.

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