RealGM has reported that NBA Insider reporter Chad Ford is leaving ESPN.
Ford is a polarizing figure for NBA fans, and I know a few bloggers who don't particularly like his work. Meanwhile the unofficial cap-guru and NBA economist (and now a blogger!) Dan Rosenbaum gave Ford some accolades before the departure was announced:
I don't think anyone works harder than he does. He travels all over the country - all over the world - for his stories. I have seen him working and he is constantly talking to people, either in person or on the phone. He understands the collective bargaining agreement as well as any sportswriter (and a lot of front office personnel), and he has started to include advanced statistics from 82games.com and John Hollinger in his articles.
I think we all underappeciate how difficult it would be to be in his shoes - to let the public know what he knows without overstepping. I think he does a very good job at that. In my humble opinion, I think we should thank our lucky stars that it is Chad Ford (and not someone else) that is in the "insider" position at ESPN.com.
The discussion continues over at TrueHoop, and I think a lot what upsets Ford's readers was the idea that he has been used by GMs around the league to drum up false interest or deflect the truth. How much of that is true is debatable, but I am pretty certain nobody could ever know how much garbage information Ford has to sift through every day in his process of providing constant, informative, and entertaining content. As Rosenbaum verifies, it seems like hard work. A lot harder than linking and musing on a blog.
I liked reading Ford and accepted that what he said may not always be the
truth, and if you read carefully he always prefaced his columns by establishing
what was coming from his sources and what was simply his own ideas. A lot of
times readers confused the two.
Additionally, he is one of the few draft analysts who made an effort to scout international and HighSchool players, especially those at ESPN who'd rather have their head up the NCAA's collective rear.
Speaking of the 'worldwide leader' despite what you thought of Ford's body of work or his methods, this is a definite loss for ESPN, which already has its NBA coverage and general product declining in quality. Odd that almost exactly a year ago David Aldridge left. And in a similar way it is fitting that soon after Ford's departure we'll get a half hour of Stephen A. Smith every day on the 4-letter network.
Maybe Ford's rumors didn't always come to fruition, but he put in the work to get the pulse of the league every morning. Maybe ESPN has seen its popularity rise with replacing what Ford provided with the screaming of several uninformed blowhards and contrarian columns written to inspire disingenuous 'controversy'. But I have a feeling this time next year I'll be missing Chad Ford.