Setting the record straight

Here's the funny thing about the interview Etan Thomas conducted recently at realgm.com: Etan ripped myself and John Mitchell of the Washington Times for writing false information but in doing so, he provided false information. Unreal. Here are the facts as outlined in an e-mail I sent to Etan yesterday (still haven't heard back from him).

-In the interview, he specifically mentions the Washington Post and says I carelessly tossed out scenarios comparing his health situation to those of "Len Bias, Jason Collier and Hank Gathers." That's interesting because none of the stories written in this paper included the names of Len Bias or Hank Gathers.
I did mention Jason Collier's tragic passing and felt that was relevant information because since his death in 2005, the NBA has instituted the most intense cardiac testing policies in all of sports. In fact, it was during that testing process that Etan's worsening condition was identified. If you actually read the story that mentions Collier, you will understand this. It's called context.

-As for Ronny Turiaf, Fred Hoiberg and Eddy Curry, I specifically described what their conditions were and never in any way compared them to Etan. There was no way to do so at the time because we had been provided with no information on Etan's situation and, because he requested through the Wizards that such information be kept private, myself and John Mitchell of the Times made a point of backing off and waiting for Etan and the team to release such information. Out of respect for Etan's wishes, I did not attempt to contact team doctors or Etan himself and patiently waited, even as my editors and many fans were asking me on a daily basis for updates. I do find it interesting that in the interview, Etan takes issue with me mentioning Hoiberg and Turiaf but later, he states that he has contacted both of them to discuss his situation.

- In the interview, Etan says that articles written in this paper and elsewhere "questioned if I will live, breath, walk, much less play ever again." That is simply untrue. You can go back on this site and read the stories I wrote on Etan and nowhere will you see such speculation. To imply that I would do such a thing is irresponsible.

Now, there are only three possible conclusions I can draw after reading this interview: 1. Etan never actually read any of the articles written about him in this newspaper and rambled on about what was supposedly written without the relevant "facts" or 2. Etan read a bunch of things and mistakingly thought he'd read some of that stuff in the Post or 3. He flat out fabricated that stuff in that interview for some unknown reason. ( To bash an NBA beat reporter whom he's known for three years? What, have I suddenly transformed from a liberal, animal loving, tree hugging book junkie into George Bush and Dick Cheney? When did that happen? Do I get a big tax cut now?)

I also have an issue with the Dave Zirin, the reporter who conducted the interview. As someone who has worked at Sports Illustrated and written several books, I would think that Zirin would at least make an attempt to confirm what Etan was saying before putting that interview out there for public consumption. I've been doing this job now for nine years and I've NEVER simply taken what a subject has told me as fact and printed it without verification, especially when said subject is questioning the integrity, honesty and competence of another professional. That's basic journalism, stuff we all learned in college.
I assume that Zirin has access to the Post web site where he could have seen for himself what was actually written before allowing Etan to throw that garbage out there.

Now, what really bothers me is that Etan knows how I go about my business. When I broke that story about the fight between him and Brendan early last season, I went out of my way to tell Etan, Brendan, Eddie Jordan and Ernie Grunfeld that I knew about it and was writing a story for the next day. I did this for two reasons: 1. I felt that Etan and Brendan should have the opportunity to comment or refute what was going to be in that story and 2. I felt that they deserved to know what was coming so they wouldn't be caught by surprise. To me, that's just being an honest reporter.

Also, after Etan and Brendan got into another scrap later in the season and I heard about it, Etan sent me an e-mail detailing what went down and asked me to include his comments in my story. Included in that e-mail were some really harsh quotes. I went out of my way to contact Etan and ask him if he wanted to take back any of what he wrote and he did so. I also left out some details of the incident that would have made Etan look a whole lost worse than he did. Remeber, he was suspended for that particular fight and it wasn't because he hit Brendan with a pillow. Trust me, the version I wound up writing was far less intense than it could have been. I didn't have to do that and let me tell you, there are a ton of reporters out there who would not have shown such restraint. Some of them even work at the National Equirer.

I can't imagine what it was like for Etan and his family going through what they went through and as a human being, I'm sensitive to what it must have felt like reading anything about the situation in a newspaper. That is why I did several hours of research before writing those stories and conducted several heart specialists to make sure that I wasn't writing false information. I'm sincerely happy for Etan and his family that the surgery went well and he's going to recover. As I've said before and as I told him in my e-mail, I genuinely respect and like the dude.

That said, I do have a job to do and I'll stand by my reporting and everything I wrote in those stories. In the future Etan, when you do an interview like that or sit down to write something, I would offer this advice: get your facts straight before you question the integrity of another "human being." In other words, please allow little nuisances like facts to get in the way of a good interview.

By Ivan Carter |  October 24, 2007; 1:02 PM ET
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Comments

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Etan is going to have to learn this lesson the hard way: Never get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. Or in this case, someone who has a website and blog read by thousands of folks daily.

They say time heals all wounds, and I bet this one is no different.

Posted by: iceberg | October 24, 2007 2:05 PM

Chill, Ivan, you're a good reporter. And Etan had open heart surgury - maybe he's under a little stress? Maybe he was misquoted? Maybe you ought to retract this article and pick up the phone first and talk to him?

BTW, Etan was subject to a lot of hate mail on the various Wiz blogs (e.g., no heart at all, his heart failed because he's a bleeding heart liberal, etc.). Maybe he was reacting to that. You're the reporter. Why don't you find out.

Posted by: Izman | October 24, 2007 2:06 PM

I did feel like Ivan was thrown under a bus there when I read the realgm article. I read every Wizards related article the last 4 years or so and felt Ivan's and Michael Lee's articles have been much better than what you'd get from a far-away view of SI or ESPN and much more thoughtful than the jokes at the Times. I hope Etan realizes not everyone in the media is out to get him and get his health back on track and not stress out about the media or the war or immigration or what not for the time being.

Posted by: Nara | October 24, 2007 2:16 PM

Izman, Ivan has every right to come out and defend himself. I don't know why you would tell him to "chill." He seemed pretty calm about the whole thing to me. Etan leveled some serious blows at Ivan and Mitchell. Ivan has the right to respond and has initiated contact with Etan, according to the above blog entry.

(By the by, the best comment about Etan's heart situation was in reference to Haywood not having any heart. Can't remember the exact words, though.)

Posted by: Colin | October 24, 2007 2:19 PM

Sounds like a misunderstanding. Hope that these two can reconcile? I like both men; one for his basketball skill and another for his reporting. I hope that we all can just get along.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2007 2:21 PM

Ivan, you're the best. I never doubted you. Etan's a fellow Syracuse alum, but I have to say he's just wrong about this. I admire his willingness to take stands, but so often, I find that he's wrong. He's done this before on other issues. He puts words in other peoples' mouths (or keyboards) and then refutes arguments that, in fact, no one is making. It's tiresome.

I genuinely wish him well in his recovery, but honestly, he's better off not talking to anyone for awhile.

Posted by: mbr | October 24, 2007 2:22 PM

Ivan, i am very happy you defended yourself. Etan definitely didn't have the facts 100% correct. You did everything right in reporting this developing story, and I believe Etan got worked up over nothing. I'm sure he will apologize and this will blow over eventually, but I applaud you for sticking up for yourself when you did nothing wrong.

Posted by: Steven | October 24, 2007 2:37 PM

Good for you, Ivan. Etan deserves a lot of support and sympathy given his situation. He doesn't deserve the right to go off on people.

I hadn't thought about Zirin's role in all of this, and you are right. Zirin fulfilled what Stephen Colbert described as the press's proper role -- "we talk, you type."

By the way, can I borrow your computer for a bit, Ivan? I want to look up some e-mails from last season. (Why'd you have to tease us with that information??!!)

Posted by: Sean | October 24, 2007 2:38 PM

Ivan, hang in there. Neither of these guys has your integrity or credentials. You've done the right thing. They haven't.

Just keep on keepin' on and turn the coverage back to the court where it belongs.

Posted by: joe c | October 24, 2007 2:39 PM

Actually, a follow-up question, Ivan. Why DID you leave out details about the fight that would have made Etan look bad? Isn't your job to report the facts as you find them?

Posted by: Sean | October 24, 2007 2:40 PM

Time to take the gloves off, Ivan. Why pull your punches when this is what you get in return? Admittedly I am not a disinterested observer because frankly I'd like to see some of the information that has been suppressed or watered down in the local Wiz coverage.

I recall the team said ET's condition was detected in a "routine physical." At best this seems misleading if what ET said in the interview was true about having the condition since childhood and about the team knowing all about it.

Posted by: Mitch | October 24, 2007 2:40 PM

The WaPo is very fortunate to have two excellent journalists, and writers, reporting on the Wizards and the NBA. Yes, Etan is under existential stress but that doesn't give him a pass publicly to bash someone's professional credentials, especially someone who has shown profesional courtesy to him in the past. Ivan has every right, indeed a professional responsibility, to complete the record.

Posted by: Prazak | October 24, 2007 2:43 PM

Well said, Ivan. I'm sure it's really frustrating to go above and beyond in showing respect to someone, and then having that person come back and throw you under the bus.

Posted by: Mike in SD | October 24, 2007 2:53 PM

Ivan, don't you think you should find out the facts before posting an article like this? or at least hear from Etan first before putting this up on the blog?

I hope that is what you did.

Posted by: ZardFan | October 24, 2007 2:56 PM

I think any follow up on this "situation" deserves a story in the Post - but reported/written by someone other than IC or Michael Lee (and not a columnist).

Posted by: Shotgun | October 24, 2007 2:58 PM

Ivan, don't sweat it man. You can't make everyone happy. It sucks about etan's health, but he clearly is wrong. We're the ones who read your blogs/articles religiously, and we know what you said. It sucks, but ah well.

Posted by: Soup's Uncle | October 24, 2007 2:58 PM

My best guess is that Etan's family members read the Post and Times stories, freaked out about them and mischaracterized them to Etan and/or his wife, and Etan said what he said in the interview without checking what the stories really said. That's the best case scenario for Etan, at least.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2007 3:04 PM

This will not be the last time an athlete you cover says something unkind about the coverage. Comes with the business. I would bet the Etan is reacting to the many inferences that readers took away from the posts. I know I thought many of the folks on this blog inferred a lot more than you wrote and there was much discussion about that.

At the end of the day, whatever hearache you feel now is nothing compared to what Etan went/is going through. This to shall pass.

Posted by: Skeef | October 24, 2007 3:09 PM

"The WaPo is very fortunate to have two excellent journalists, and writers, reporting on the Wizards and the NBA. Yes, Etan is under existential stress but that doesn't give him a pass publicly to bash someone's professional credentials, especially someone who has shown profesional courtesy to him in the past. Ivan has every right, indeed a professional responsibility, to complete the record."

Hear, hear! Well put, and thank you to Ivan as always.

Posted by: Baltimore Bullets | October 24, 2007 3:10 PM

I read Ivan's articles about Etan and I didn't see anything wrong in them. No where did he say Etan was done. And they certainly weren't "poorly written, heartless, inconsiderate"

Maybe Etan should have read the articles before commenting on them.

Posted by: Bart | October 24, 2007 3:12 PM

As KTV and someone else wrote earlier..in person - Etan is very clear- He does not like Ivan's style of reporting - period. Never made a statement about Mike Lee but definitely I. Carter.

I don't think anybody should take any sides - thats a lose lose situation because you don't know the entire story.

Folks - ya just don't know the real truth - I guess its hard to simply admit it.

And please - lets not act like the WAPo is a thorough media org. Just think back to the articles by writers that won the Pulizter - only to find the plagiarized.
WAPO didn't know it.

So in truth we the readers - never really know.

Posted by: Bob | October 24, 2007 3:14 PM

Bob, you are a fool. We DO know the truth because Etan was complaining about stories that were written in the Post. So, Einstein, all you have to do to find out the truth is look up those past articles to see what they actually said. Ask a librarian for help if you are having trouble.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2007 3:19 PM

Ivan...Keep doing you. I think Etan must be dealing with a lot of mixed emotions now (e.g. - career on the line, lifestyle may changes, etc.). I have no other way to comprehend the vitrol he is displaying. You bring us the news in a way that never appears bias in either direction. And this is coming someone who welcomes positive Wiz bias. Keep up the good work!!

Posted by: scrappy | October 24, 2007 3:20 PM

Ivan, I love your reporting but you've gotta be careful too when calling someone out.

You say here, "In the interview, he specifically mentions the Washington Post and says I carelessly tossed out scenarios comparing his health situation to those of "Len Bias, Jason Collier and Hank Gathers." That's interesting because none of the stories written in this paper included the names of Len Bias or Hank Gathers."

But, in your October 3rd article, "Wizards' Thomas Has Heart Ailment," you write, "In 2005, then-Chicago Bulls center Eddy Curry was diagnosed as having susceptibility to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal heart condition that was linked to the deaths of Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis."

now, of course you're not comparing thomas to gathers, but you certainly do include Gathers in the article.

Posted by: BV | October 24, 2007 3:22 PM

Although I feel bad that Etan had to undergo heart surgery, I feel that he is wrong for attacking Ivan. Ivan, as a reporter, was simply doing his JOB.
For someone as outspoken and opinionated as Etan to be that sensitive to what a "beat reporter" has to say is ridiculous.

Etan likes to put himself in the public eye as a sports star / celebrity so simply deal with the media coverage (both negative and positive) that comes with the territory.

P.S. - I hope Etan gets better soon and I hope Ivan gets back to actually covering the sport of basketball......

Posted by: tyler | October 24, 2007 3:23 PM

The one thing I hate about Wilbon is how he is every big name athlete's friend. He drops names in every sentence. Its his job, that's how he meets these people. What's so irritating about it is that he doesn't appear to me ( could be different for other folks) to be objective.

Here's hoping that you, Ivan, never get to that point. You don't have to be anyone's friend ... just report the facts.

Posted by: 2cents4wiz | October 24, 2007 3:29 PM

CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG!!!!

BTW - I STILL LOVE BOTH YOU AND ETAN!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2007 3:35 PM

You the man, Ivan!

Posted by: WizFan | October 24, 2007 3:41 PM

Ivan, I support you and you've done a great job.

Suggestion though, don't get lost in VC and if you turn around and see both Etan and BTH (last year's EJ expose), RUN!

Posted by: DC Man88 | October 24, 2007 3:41 PM

Just read the article. Yes Etan did say some things directed to the Post and Times. Yet he never mentioned Ivan's name in any form or fashion. It looks to me like "Etan's people" misinterpreted what Ivan said and relayed it to Etan in the wrong way.

It does not look like Etan read all of the articles himself. He probably got all geared up after some of "his people" added some "flava" to the story, thus getting him worked up and ticked off with you.

Ivan, you do a great job here so no need to get upset over two to three sentences mentioned where Etan did not even say your name directly. If he mentioned you by "name", then yea I would be ticked off too. But he did not, so take this with a "grain of salt" and lets get ready for opening season.

Lastly, boy do I wish I knew the "true story" to that fight you mentioned.

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | October 24, 2007 3:48 PM

Ivan, you're the best reporter the Wiz have, in the Post, The Wash Times, Comcast, etc. Keep up the good work and don't let other's opinions dissuade you. I understand that Etan is under much duress, and I hope him a speedy recovery. But erroneously lashing out and trying to destroy the career and reputation of a reporter because you believe - wrongly as it turns out - that he is smearing yours is not only incorrect but reprehensible. He thus becomes guilty of the exact crime he's trying to pin on you. He makes millions playing a sport and is trying to sully the rep of a hard-working, low-paid reporter. That's like school on Sunday: no class. This may sound harsh considering his health issues, but his attitude, the fights with Brendan, etc., are exactly the type of thing a promising young organisation like the Wiz and its long-suffering fans do not need.

Posted by: Larry | October 24, 2007 3:57 PM

I believe Etan and/or those close to him got upset from what the bloggers had to say about his career being done and how we move on before the surgery had occured or any prognosis from his dr's was given. This other reporter struck some nerves after Etan's was struck. The fact is that Etan and the Wizards agreed to respect his privacy and did not divulge a lot of info. The public wanted to know and Ivan and co. did the best they could do to cover it and keep us updated while providing both worse case and best case scenarios based on similar cases. That as Ivan said is Journalism 101. Glad the guy is going to recover and glad we get the great Wiz coverage and insight. Chill folks!

Posted by: G$ | October 24, 2007 4:16 PM

etan is wrong

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2007 4:32 PM

Of the possible scenarios that Ivan mentioned that would explain Etan's non-sensical rant, I choose (1) Etan never actually read any of the articles written about him in this newspaper and rambled on about what was supposedly written without the relevant "facts". Nobody enjoys pointing a finger without doing his homework more than Etan...

Posted by: Ghitza | October 24, 2007 4:33 PM

hes also a bum ass gump who should never play basketball ever again.

ps. not only are you awful at basketball but your poetry is bad too

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2007 4:33 PM

Nice Ivan. Regardless of the circumstances if your integrity is incorrectly assailed and you have the means and forum to defend yourself, why wouldn't you?

Etan's a good guy and I'm sure you have an apology coming (not that I would think you would expect that).

Posted by: Patrick | October 24, 2007 4:34 PM

It would be best for all parties if Etan just retired. Etan would avoid risking future health complications, and he, his family, and his close friends would be financially set for life. And at the end of this year, the Wizards could get his outrageous salary off the salary cap books, so we can go after the vaunted free agent class of '08 and maybe finally pick up our first big man of consequence since Wes traded away C-Webb in his prime.

Posted by: David | October 24, 2007 4:36 PM

For someone who is supposed to be so righteous and enlightened, Etan Thomas seems to always be involved in some kind of verbal or physical altercation.

Note - if you really want to be such a positive role model, stop fighting people over stupid crap all the d*** time.

Posted by: adubb | October 24, 2007 4:37 PM

Ivan,

You had every right to respond the way you did to Etan's smear job. When you're a journalist, your integrity is everything. If someone challenges that, the challenge must be answered. Seems to me you've done that well.

I've had it happen to me in my career as a journalist. I came out swinging, because no one questions my integrity and gets away with it. All journalists make mistakes occasionally; but to question a reporter's ethics crosses the line. If Etan can back up his claims, he'd better do it with facts; if not, he should shut his freakin' trap. The heart problem is irrelevant in this context. It's not about Etan; it's about Ivan. Ivan must defend himself.


Keith

Posted by: Keithinator | October 24, 2007 4:47 PM

jeez let the season begin... get better etan and hang in there, ivan, this too shall pass.

Posted by: khrabb | October 24, 2007 4:55 PM

Ivan:

It wouldn't be the first time Zirin made a basic mistake of fact. I noticed a couple while reading his book "Welcome to the Terrordome" recently. Since I don't have it in front of me the only one that comes to mind is the one in the chapter about the Materazzi-Zidane headbutt from the world cup. In it he mentions that Materazzi played for Lazio, a team in Rome with notorious fascist leaning supporters groups. You know, to get in an insinuation that Materazzi is a racist because he used to play for Lazio. Only one problem though. His dad coached Lazio, but Materazzi never played for the team. Plus, a little additional research would have showed him that Materazzi talks trash on the field but he is a tremendous guy off of the field and most definitely not a racist.

Posted by: tmc | October 24, 2007 5:05 PM

I thought it was incredible to hear Etan questioning someone else's writing, when his is so weak. His poetry is bad and his fake intellectualism is misguided and annoying. Seriously, Etan Thomas complaining about "the sad state of journalism today..." Ridiculous. More appropriately, we should complain about the sad state of poetry today when he is called a poet...

Posted by: Matt | October 24, 2007 5:13 PM

Sorry, but I can't help but see this as much ado about nothing much.

Look, nowhere in the interview did Thomas assail Carter's "integrity." He did question his characterization of the situation and the accuracy of some of his facts (implied and stated) but that's not the same thing.

Posted by: kalorama | October 24, 2007 5:28 PM

I'm with Etan on this one. The press, especially in America, will "over-dramatize" (if that word exists) everything in order to get more hits. It doesn't matter if you compared him to Collier AND Bias, or only to Collier, the idea that I got, as a reader, was that his illness was as dangerous as the previous cases and that he could die any minute. Now, I don't know if that's true or not, but if his condition is not as bad as originally reported, he deserves an apology. Just my opinion. I still think you are an awesome writer and your articles are very insightful.

Posted by: josue | October 24, 2007 5:31 PM

Journalist vs. Commentator

My question is why are you keeping information from the public about the fight last year so as to make Etan seem better. That sounds ridiculous for you to be choosing which side to report on as doesnt it strike to your credibility as an unbiased reporter. If you are going to be friends with players (like wilbon) thats fine but you cant come off as a reporter at the same time particularly if your keeping information on a situation so as to protect a player.

Posted by: confused | October 24, 2007 5:38 PM

Kalorama,

You couldn't be more wrong. Here are some of Thomas' statements:

unfounded, un-researched, speculative articles and statements

They just started throwing names and cases around without doing any research.

So when the people who actually do care about me open the paper, they are frightened by these mountains of poorly written, heartless, inconsiderate, writers whose only concern is to sell papers at any cost.

They don't want little nuisances like facts to get in the way of a good story.

You don't understand what broadsides these kinds of statements are. A reporter's reputation is coin of the realm. He's saying Ivan is lazy, unconcerned with the truth, and will make stuff up to sell papers. You can't have your integrity impugned much more directly than that.

You may not think it's serious, but let me assure you, it is. I've been a journalist, both a reporter and editor, for 18 years. Nothing could be more serious than someone you cover as a beat reporter calling you out like this.

I cover Microsoft as a company. If Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer said the things about me that Thomas said about Ivan, I'd be defending myself before my bosses, who would be wondering about my integrity as a journalist.

Posted by: Keithinator | October 24, 2007 5:43 PM

Kalorama, how does this quote not challenge Ivan's integrity?:

"So when the people who actually do care about me open the paper, they are frightened by these mountains of poorly written, heartless, inconsiderate, writers whose only concern is to sell papers at any cost."

Posted by: Sean | October 24, 2007 5:47 PM

I don't share your politics, but you do a great, great job. You are probably the best NBA beat reporter in the country. But why did you refrain from reporting the whole story about the Haywood/Etan fight? You shouldn't cut Etan slack just because you like the guy. If I misunderstood your reasons I'm sure you'll let us know why. And, chill a little bit - you're gonna have a coronary about these types of things.

Posted by: Fat Lady | October 24, 2007 5:50 PM

Etan Thomas comes off as a self-righteous ass in that Realgm interview. "People ask me, why care? Why do you fight so hard for the underprivileged?" Blah blah blah. Frankly, I agree with Etan's politics, and yeah, obviously America's healthcare system is messed up - but what a blow-hard! It's great for an athlete to be outspoken, but sometimes it's important to check yourself and know when to shut your mouth. From that interview, it sounds like he should change his name to Ego Thomas.
That said, I hope he gets better soon, and that we see him on the court again. Like Ivan said, despite the interview, he's a good dude.

Posted by: satch | October 24, 2007 5:55 PM

Confirms some of my suspicions about him personally.

Posted by: The Janitor | October 24, 2007 5:55 PM

I blame Heart Disease.

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | October 24, 2007 5:57 PM

Ivan, I think you were careful when you wrote your articles about Etan and did not draw exact comprisons to other athletes who had heart operations.

I almost think Etan made a mistake in not being initially forthcoming with information about his situation when many people were sincerely concerned and wanted to know his situation.

Some posters on this blog criticized the Wizards for not putting more information out when apparently the Wizards were just going along with Etan's wishes.

One other thing that Etan says in his interview is that he has known about his potential heart problem for years and has been monitoring by being tested twice a year.

Etan claims that it was during this testing that the problem was found and not during the NBA's regular testing process as was reported.

Posted by: Tim | October 24, 2007 5:57 PM

here's a question: when the Wizards were shopping Thomas for a trade, did they tell potential takers about Thomas's condition? apparently they knew about it. this question assumes that they did in fact try to trade him earlier this year.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2007 6:03 PM

"You don't understand what broadsides these kinds of statements are."

Please don't presume to tell me what I do and do not understand because, frankly, you have no idea.

I understand context and the context here is that a celebrity, public figure (in this case a pro athlete) is pissed of because something his family read about his health in the paper upset them. Does that justify Thomas's rant? Maybe not, but taken in context one can understand (A) why he might be upset if he felt information were inaccurately conveyed and (B) how anything he said should probably not be taken at face value.

"I cover Microsoft as a company. If Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer said the things about me that Thomas said about Ivan, I'd be defending myself before my bosses, who would be wondering about my integrity as a journalist."

Again, context. Etan Thomas is not Bill Gates. There's a difference between, say, accusing the head of a multibillion dollar global corporation of fraud or financial malfeasance and getting called out for it (esp. if business is your beat) and a sportswriter being called out for possibly getting the details of a complex medical condition wrong. Again, context.

I'm not saying Etan was right in what he said or that Carter was wrong in his response. But all of the collateral hand-wringing in this blog seems quite a bit over the top, given what's actually being dealt with.

Another point worth making: By his own admission, Carter "did not attempt to contact team doctors or Etan himself" before writing the story. perhaps if he had, much of this drama could have been avoided.

Posted by: kalorama | October 24, 2007 6:04 PM

Etan was wrong. He projects himself as articulate, opinionated, and he is. Which makes what he said in the article all the more galling. He misrepresented some major facts by the Washington Post, and cast himself as a victim of bad journalism. He falsely called out another man's work so, he's the perpetrator and not the victim in this instance.

Posted by: The Janitor | October 24, 2007 6:17 PM

Way to backtrack, Kalorama, and way to misquote Ivan. Ivan didn't say he "did not attempt to contact team doctors or Etan himself before writing the story," as you said he did. Ivan did not contact team doctors or Etan, and instead waited for the team to announce how the surgery went before reporting on it.

So again, how is calling Ivan "heartless" not challenging this integrity?

Posted by: Sean | October 24, 2007 6:19 PM

I read Ivan's article and I must say, it was not "illustrious". I wish Etan would spend more time reading and less time talking.

does etan actually do anything for nay of his causes? a quick FEC search shows no campaign donations. is he actually involved or does his "fighting" consist entirely of a few poorly written (hey if he wants to be more then an athlete then he doesnt get the benefit of diminished expectations) articles for SLAM and the assorted windmill attack?

Posted by: The Illustriati | October 24, 2007 6:24 PM

Dave Zirin does not "work at Sports Illustrated." He has contributed columns, pro bono, to Sports Illustrated's website.

That's it.

Posted by: Towel | October 24, 2007 6:26 PM

because, frankly, you have no idea.

Are you a journalist? If you are not, you do have no idea. If you are, you'll have a tough time convincing me how you don't see this as serious.

Kal, you say a lot of very sensible things on this board; but the truth is, you come across to me and a number of others as an insufferable know-it-all. I have never read a comment of yours that would even hint that anyone else had anything intelligent to say. That doesn't mean you have never done that, but I personally haven't seen it. You continue to do that in this case.

Don't bring this weak stuff at me unless you can match my experience in journalism. I've reported for large daily newspapers, and run national magazines with circulation in the hundreds of thousands.

I'm not saying this to pump myself up. I'm saying it because it lends credence to my opinion when it comes to the realm of journalism.

And I know what it's like to have someone question your integrity as a journalist; there's nothing that means more to a reporter. If you disagree with those statements, demonstrate the validity of your opinions.

Posted by: Keithinator | October 24, 2007 6:33 PM

Ivan shouldn't worry about Etan and this stuff for much longer. It is great that the surgery went well for Etan. He isn't a very good basketball player and as soon as an oppurtunity presents itself; he will no longer be a Wizard. The Wiz are and will be better off without him.

Posted by: Gee (MD) | October 24, 2007 6:37 PM

I don't blame Kalorama, per se. There are a lot of insufferable know-it-alls in the Kalorama neighborhood, so Kalorama might just be trying to fit in.

Posted by: Joe | October 24, 2007 6:44 PM

"That said, I do have a job to do and I'll stand by my reporting and everything I wrote in those stories."

I don't see it Ivan.

I just read both articles and the Times one is titled "Etan could be done" but it implies just for the year and that the heart condition *could* be life/career threatening. In no way it implies anything other then the obvious. Maybe the title could have been more sensitive(as to life or death), but still.

Also Etan himself says that his family read it and not him.

Saying this I have to agree 100% with you. You can't make everyone happy Ivan, just like I said last year after that article you wrote on Etan and Brendan's last fight.

Let it go man, you're doing a GREAT job. I'm happy as a Post reader that you take your job so seriously, makes for good reading. :)

Sounds like a case of misinformation to me.

"So again, how is calling Ivan "heartless" not challenging this integrity?"

It is, but again after reading all three stories it really does seem like Etan as Ivan states "doesn't have his facts straight."

*sigh*

The life of a reporter. :)

I can honestly say sometimes on this very blog what I write in back and white is not always how I want something to convey. I think it's the same thing with Etan. He should really re-read those stories if he even read them at all.

Ok, so how about that Miami trade for Ricki Davis??? Another "Wizard Killer" goes to the Heat.

Great.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 24, 2007 6:58 PM

the angle on this story from just about every major news outlet has been to imply a link to the tragic history of nba heart problems. including that history in an article is going to make the implication that thomas's condition is on that level of seriousness. (reading some of the messages on the realgm forum it's clear that's the conclusion drawn from the die-hard fans who post there)

i don't think that means ivan is a bad reporter. i worked as a freelance journalist for a couple years after college and actually i would argue that given the (lack of) info coming from the wizards it was the right article to write. i can also understand etan's frustration at the media and there's some truth in what he says even if his characterization of the "heartless" media is over the top.

what i can't understand is some of the 'fans' who seem to want this to be more serious for etan. since this story came out, it seems to have really brought out some of the hate people have for him.

Posted by: bt | October 24, 2007 7:11 PM

I do wish the best for Etan But am I the only one not dissapointed by this.I just wish Etan would retire! Move on stay home, enjoy the family and give us cap room. Blatche is more than capable of taking Etans spot.Hell we tried to trade him all summer. Etan is just a brendan Haywood in a different body. If only we could combine Etan and brendan together we might have a soso center.

Posted by: the truth | October 24, 2007 7:14 PM

In the October 3rd, "Wizards' Thomas Has Heart Ailment" article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/02/AR2007100202565.html) Ivan wrote:

"In 2005, then-Chicago Bulls center Eddy Curry was diagnosed as having susceptibility to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal heart condition that was linked to the deaths of Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis."

So you did what you said you didn't do Ivan. As much as I enjoy your journalism, you have to respect how difficult it can be for professional athletes to always be under the microscope. Surely you caught Thomas (and his family and friends) at a very sensitive time?!? I know you meant no disrespect and only were trying to do your job, but give the guy a break.

Posted by: but what do i know... | October 24, 2007 7:28 PM

I do wish the best for Etan But am I the only one not dissapointed by this.I just wish Etan would retire! Move on stay home, enjoy the family and give us cap room.

Posted by: the truth | October 24, 2007 07:14 PM

Oh how nice. one wonders why professional atheltes ever get angry??

Posted by: but what do i know... | October 24, 2007 7:33 PM

The most shocking thing about all this was the revelation that Etan and Kwame Brown are close friends. Maybe ET can use his recuperation time to talk some sense into that knucklehead.

I just went back through Ivan's stories and I saw an immediate problem in the lede of the first one, where he describes Etan's heart problem as "an irregularity that could potentially be career-threatening." There's no subsequent elaboration of that thesis and no attribution for the point that it is potentially career-ending. Who actually described it to Ivan that way? If someone did, that source isn't quoted anywhere in the story. Or did Ivan draw that conclusion himself, based only on the fact that Jason Collier, Reggie Lewis and Hank Gaithers died of heart ailments and Fred Hoiberg had to retire because of one? (As it turns out, those guys had different sorts of heart ailments than Etan has.)

I can understand why Etan is pissed off about what Ivan wrote, and Ivan is pissed off about being called out, albeit not by name. That doesn't mean that either of them are bad guys. Ivan should have refrained from calling Etan's condition potentially career-ending until he had all the facts, and Etan went a bit too far with his anti-journalistic screed.


Posted by: John Brisker | October 24, 2007 7:40 PM

"what i can't understand is some of the 'fans' who seem to want this to be more serious for etan. since this story came out, it seems to have really brought out some of the hate people have for him.

Posted by: bt | October 24, 2007 07:11 PM "

I don't know why you say that, bt. When the news came out of ET's surgery a lot of fans here and elsewhere wished him well repeatedly. I don't remember reading any messages of hate about ET, at least on this blog. And who wanted this to be more serious than it was?

I have to say his intemperate and unjustified comments about the local coverage are turning a lot of peoples' heads and making people wonder just what kind of guy ET is. Maybe he's just a self-centered pr##k.

Posted by: Mitch | October 24, 2007 7:41 PM

Oh how nice. one wonders why professional atheltes ever get angry??

Posted by: but what do i know... | October 24, 2007 07:33 PM

I'm not saying I wish bad for Etan but I wasn't happy when why matched the bucks deal on him. I'm happy some of our other players get time now, Guys I think are better than Etan.If he wants to get mad because i think we have better players than screw him. And if your mad for the same reason than The same to you. i just think Blatche,Songila,Pecherov are or could be better if they just got the time. Now they they will

Posted by: the truth | October 24, 2007 7:56 PM

Oh my Gosh! Don't tell me that an athlete actually said something absurd and unfounded in a moment of stress! Say it ain't so!

Seriously, I get being upset about what Etan said, but perhaps the comment that this was made up on purpose was a bit much. Perhaps he's not much different from many other athletes who say whacky, unfounded things on occaision. Considering the guy had open heart surgery, I'm inclined to cut him a bit of slack here.

I definitely get Ivan defending himself, but I have a hard time believing there is anything nefarious going on here, other than an athlete saying something he feels which isn't supported by the facts - and again - how rare is that??

Posted by: sfam | October 24, 2007 8:15 PM

Quote: "here's a question: when the Wizards were shopping Thomas for a trade, did they tell potential takers about Thomas's condition?"

That's a really interesting question. The news that the Wizards organization knew of this all along apparently didn't become public until Etan Thomas' interview. Enquiring minds want to know..

Posted by: Taylor | October 24, 2007 8:29 PM

the truth, my problem is that you seem to be "dissappointed" in Etan not because of what he's said but because you'd rather he and his salary weren't part of the Wizards. what on earth does the Wizards matching of Milwaukee's contract have to do with any of this anyways??

and sfam, while I get what you're saying, etan's comments are largly right. sure there *might* be minor fact or two that is off (the WP mentioned Gathers but not Len Bias), but mostly they're not, and his point rings true.

i don't mean to bash Ivan, except I think his post here is a little tasteless, but people should step back and understand where Etan's coming from. He makes a valid point.

Posted by: but what do i know... | October 24, 2007 9:00 PM

"I just went back through Ivan's stories and I saw an immediate problem in the lede of the first one, where he describes Etan's heart problem as "an irregularity that could potentially be career-threatening."

Dude, it's heart surgery. Com'on.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 24, 2007 9:29 PM

Ivan - full support for you here. Frankly, I can only think that Etan is obviously in a different place after this surgery (wouldn't we all be?) - otherwise I can't see where this is coming from.

Thanks for the detail, and the full rebuttal. Much appreciation for you attention, professionalism, and taking the time to speak to the wizards community on this.

cj

Posted by: charles jones | October 24, 2007 10:01 PM

Etan has an agenda, Its called seeing things the way he thinks they are. I'm sorry that he didn't get to compete this year and show whether he really is or is not a player who can make a difference. I don't think he will ever be a meaningful player on our team. Maybe just a guy who can provide some backup time. The only reason he will even be on the team is because of his contract, not his play in the future. If you cant outplay Brendan, when he's pouting, how much are you really worth.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | October 24, 2007 10:24 PM

I have a few thoughts on Etan:

1. I wish Etan well in his recovery.
2. I greatly admire Etan's hard work in his play which is an example to other players.
3. I completely disagree with his position on Iraq and against the surge. Etan loses credibility when he rants without facts against Violence in Iraq has dropped significantly. Last week in Anbar Province, just a year ago by far the most violent province in Iraq, there were ZERO Iraqi and Coalition deaths. The Anbar awakening is spreading across Iraq to other provinces and Petreaus is beginning to look like U.S. Grant.
4. Etan is an emotional and high energy guy but he needs to avoid channeling that energy into unsubstantiated comments, whatever the topic because I'd prefer to focus on admiring his good qualities.

Posted by: KSM | October 24, 2007 10:32 PM

Hopefully when Etan gets healthy he'll be less concerened with the "sad state of journalism" and more concerned with the sad state of his stat line.

Posted by: payattention | October 24, 2007 10:39 PM

I was happy when we signed Etan to that big contract I thought we were signing a beast. It turns out the he was a poet and we didnt know it. Sorry for the pun. I didn't know what a political guru he was at the time. I finished reading the real GM article. Etan really should put his money where his heart is and help out the underprivileged. I mean this with sincerity. He doesn't deserve the money he's earning so he should give it to those who worked so hard and were never rewarded. I notice he's never too ill to take a cheap shot at the President. Although like many Americans, I love sports. However, its gotten to the point where many athletes make it hard to like the players. Too much money, ego, self centeredness. For a guy who makes average money, its just hard to feel sorry for a $6 million dollar a year failures who play games for a living and enjoying a priveleged life. We the fans are the reason they are so out of hand. If we were to boycott some of the outrageously expensive events maybe we could bring them back down to earth and have some real heros again.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | October 24, 2007 11:13 PM

reply to John Brisker, Etan's heart surgery was career threatening because a leaky valve is a serious problem. This is on top of the fact that no one in the NBA wanted to take on him and his contract. His days here were only assured due to his guaranteed contract. If the players on the roster play to their potential there will be no time for a player who missed considerable time in the past two years plus this whole year and some recuperative\rehabilitative time next year. Thats 3.5-4 years of his prime. When they're both out of the league in a few years maybe he and Kwame can reminisce about how they weren't treated fairly as they're cashing in their gigantic investment checks.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 24, 2007 11:31 PM

I have a few thoughts on Etan:

1. I wish Etan well in his recovery.
2. I greatly admire Etan's hard work in his play which is an example to other players.
3. I completely disagree with his position on Iraq and against the surge. Etan loses credibility when he rants without facts against Violence in Iraq has dropped significantly. Last week in Anbar Province, just a year ago by far the most violent province in Iraq, there were ZERO Iraqi and Coalition deaths. The Anbar awakening is spreading across Iraq to other provinces and Petreaus is beginning to look like U.S. Grant.

Posted by: KSM | October 24, 2007 10:32 PM

Let me see if I understand your point. You think that Iraq is better now than it was a few months after we invaded? The obvious comparison that should be made is Iraq today versus how it was before we invaded. Here's where we are now: The entire Middle East and surrounding region is on the brink of chaos and war specifically because of our invasion of Iraq. Iran is supplying its ethnic group in Iraq with weapons; Turkey is preparing to invade northern Iraq to fight the Kurds; Iraq itself is in a civil war; hundreds of billions of dollars spent fighting a war based on two lies; need I continue? Quit limiting yourself to Fox News and you'll get exposed to real reporting instead of right-wing propaganda.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 25, 2007 2:43 AM

how do you hold back information on a fight bbecause of personal friendships that screams of biased journalism?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 25, 2007 2:46 AM

Disclosure: I am a liberal, tree-hugging environmentalist and former journalist and fan of Etan Thomas who has defended him in dozens of posts here and on the ESPN Wizards board. But Etan has really ticked me off, and here's why.

Nearly everyone on the extreme left hates the media. That's because they all get together and blame the media for every problem in America. Then they go home and turn on the TV and see Fox News with its extreme right wing bias and figure "See! There it is!" as if all media are the same. It's totally unfair, and Etan's comments about "the sad state of journalism" and journalists just wanting to sell newspapers are unfair as well: "So when the people who actually do care about me open the paper, they are frightened by these mountains of poorly written, heartless, inconsiderate, writers whose only concern is to sell papers at any cost. It would be different if we were talking about the The National Enquirer, but we are not. I guess that's the sad state of present day journalism. They don't want little nuisances like facts to get in the way of a good story," Etan said in the interview.

Etan, Ivan Carter is not an uncaring journalist who produces poorly researched and written stories with the purpose of selling newspapers. He is a caring, conscientious journalist dedicated to his craft and to public service. We wish you the best and a healthy recovery, and we understand that you are not yourself right now because of the surgery and the suffering you have endured as a result -- and that comments you make in the media right now are not representative of what you would say in normal conditions. But when you are feeling better, you should reflect on your over-the-top comments about Ivan Carter and do the honorable thing: apologize to a hardworking man.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 25, 2007 3:11 AM

Ivan, you do a great job. And Etan owes you an apology. He just needs to concentrate on healing and getting on with his career...either here or somewhere else. We have an incredibly promising season coming up and this business should be put to rest. Ivan, keep up the good work. I enjoy coming to the Insider every day...

Posted by: aramey1 | October 25, 2007 8:47 AM

Morphine is a hell of a drug. Sure Mister Thomas has had his fair amout of pain killers in the past week or so with the surgrey.

ET probably just had a knee jerk reaction being compared to dead people. I can see how that would offend him. But Ivan was on the mark with his reporting of the situation.

Posted by: pg posse | October 25, 2007 9:05 AM

I take back what I posted on Steinberg's blog about Etan being right about the coverage. He clearly was out of line in his comments and Ivan Carter is right to set the record straight.

Now, this is not the first time Etan has displayed his pathetic ignorance, just the latest time. Etan puts his foot in his mouth more than any athlete I can ever remember, it's just that he gets a pass from the media regarding his propaganda-spreading tendencies because he happens to be very Left of center.

Posted by: Barno | October 25, 2007 11:12 AM

Ivan, you are not running for political office so do not look for votes. You equally came across looking juvenile, infantile and seeking sympathy/support. The guy is very ill and already down. Be circumspect. Surgery can take it's toll on a person and make them very sensitive. If something Etan said became a bad taste in your mouth just consider his situation. Do not put him out like this to be trampled upon. Not necessary.
Etan, get some good rest and recuperate.

Posted by: pfk | October 25, 2007 11:26 AM

PFK, I'd agree with you if this were out of character for Etan. You'd think, "Wow, he must not be himself right now, so even though his accusations were off-base, I'll let it slide."
But this is Etan's MO -- putting people on blast with inaccurate information. So I don't think you can chalk it up to the surgery.

Posted by: Joe | October 25, 2007 12:16 PM

. I wish Etan well in his recovery.
2. I greatly admire Etan's hard work in his play which is an example to other players.
3. I completely disagree with his position on Iraq and against the surge. Etan loses credibility when he rants without facts against Violence in Iraq has dropped significantly. Last week in Anbar Province, just a year ago by far the most violent province in Iraq, there were ZERO Iraqi and Coalition deaths. The Anbar awakening is spreading across Iraq to other provinces and Petreaus is beginning to look like U.S. Grant.
4. Etan is an emotional and high energy guy but he needs to avoid channeling that energy into unsubstantiated comments, whatever the topic because I'd prefer to focus on admiring his good qualities.

What in the world is #3 doing in there. It has nothing to do with the topic on hand. Worst post ever.

Posted by: Mr.Bubbles | October 25, 2007 8:29 PM

Ivan, keep using your powers to ruin peoples lives. punk a$$

Posted by: ivan is queer | October 25, 2007 8:36 PM

The only reason I come here is to read something good and exciting about my team. It does not matter who blogs or writes it...Ivan or whoever. It does not matter. They pay you and they could pay anyone else for that. But to use this medium to kick an ailing man in the groin, Ivan, I think you showed a dark and cheap side of you. What are you clamoring for? Sure, you might have issues with Etan's utterances but you showed that you are rather immature. I am disappointed. I have had surgery before and you never treat an ailing man/woman like that. SHAME ON YOU!!! DO NOT GET OVER YOURSELF. By the length of your blog see how much time and energy you expended 'fighting' a confined sick man in the name of "setting some record straight". Cheap stuff!!!

Posted by: WizzyGirl | October 25, 2007 9:26 PM

Come man. Dude had heart surgery. You should have a heart. Show some class. Wait til he recovers b/c he is under a whole lot of stress and you two could have "set the record straight." Come on, let Etan recover first. Do you think his response threatened your career in anyway? I dont think so. So let it be like water off a duck's back.

Posted by: AlJ | October 26, 2007 2:49 AM

Deshawn will get his mojo back if he grows his hair long again. ;-}

Posted by: rgz | October 26, 2007 7:37 AM

This blog seems to have divided itself into two camps--those who attack Thomas and now those who attack Carter. But few seem willing to examine the deeper issues. Like, just how safe is a high-impact athletic career with a heart condition? has Thomas known of this condition all along? Did the Wizards really know about it all along? Did Milwaukee know it when they offered him that fat contract? If so, why did the Wizards match it? Has the signing been a disservice to fans, robbing the team of a big for this season and preventing free-agent signings because of the luxury cap? Or has Thomas, an anti-war frontman for the team, been a valuable asset in public relations?

Most importantly, has Thomas been telling the truth about all of the above? His statement about his fights with Haywood being a media invention proveably was not true. Was that just healing PR--or part of a chronic pattern of deception?

Whether or not he's a good person, needs our best wishes during this time, or is a good fit for the team are irrelevant to these questions. But if no answers are provided, this is a situation potentially as poisonous as that of Kobe Bryant.

Posted by: KTV | October 26, 2007 8:35 AM

bah, sports 'journalists' .. almost a contradiction.. Etan had heart surgery for pete's sake.... Go blog about something else & speak w/ Etan in provate you jerk... lol "Washington Times" guess that expains alot ...

Posted by: Mh | October 26, 2007 9:35 AM

Maybe you should clear things up with Etan if you have such a problem with what he says. The man just under went major surgury and if you two truly believe his career and life are in jeopardy (and care) maybe you should look past making yourself look vindicated and superior and just try being good human beings???? I hope the rest of the wizard organization sides with etan on this and you two are black balled and hopefully will lose your jobs.

Posted by: Andrew | October 28, 2007 11:23 PM

Carter you come of juvenile and insecure. The internet is full of resources to get basketball information. Your blog and articles are now two I can cross off my list. I will always root for the Bullets, but that doesn't mean I have to support the journalists that cover them.

Posted by: Leland | October 29, 2007 11:26 AM

I don't get how you could mention Hoiberg, Curry, and Turiaf in an article about Etan Thomas and his recent heart surgery, "never make any comparisons to Etan Thomas," and expect readers not to draw comparisons. It may be "true," but it's pretty easy to see that it's a writing ploy. Authenticity and spirit are more valuable than being "technically" truthful.

Posted by: Jerry | October 29, 2007 12:00 PM

Posted by: k-dub | October 29, 2007 12:59 PM

Etan blew you up.

Posted by: Ben | October 30, 2007 1:19 PM

I wish Etan a speedy recovery and hope he can resume playing the game he loves, but he really comes off as an idiot in his letter. Of course Ivan is concerned about Etan's health, well being, family... He's got an article to write about Etan's situation, and it would be irresponsible of him NOT to mention previous cases of heart conditions in the NBA. If the reader wants to assume a comparison, to each his own, but Ivan was just citing examples, both positive (Turiaf) and negative (Collins). I commend Ivan for doing his job and for explaining to his readers that people do recover from these conditions. We, as readers, are reading Ivan's articles because we care about the Wizards and the players. When something bad happens to the team/player, we want to know about it and about the possible implications and situations that leaves both the player and team in. I'm sorry if Etan did not want to think that it could possibly be a career(/life) threatening situation, but that was the reality. As a fan of his, I would think he would want us to be aware of his situation as our thoughts are with him and his family. Etan, get well soon. Ivan, keep up the good work.

Posted by: TK3K | October 30, 2007 1:45 PM

come on Ivan - i hope you are better than this. you sound like a whiny ESPN.com "commenter" who can't let something go. admit that you distorted the facts and move on with it. or are you going to hide on the gray line that allows journalists to always be on the right side (Duke Lax, Grundy, etc.). pathetic... best of luck to Etan.

Posted by: gandhi | October 30, 2007 3:51 PM

Ivan, I dont take much issue with your overall argument. Except for the part where you claim "That's interesting because none of the stories written in this paper included the names of Len Bias or Hank Gathers." If you are convinced of this, try clicking this link http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/02/AR2007100202565.html
and search the page for the name "Hank Gathers." Didja find it???

Posted by: Nate | November 7, 2007 2:21 PM

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