In the summer of 2017, NBA superstar reporter Adrian Wojnarowski left Yahoo! Sports to join ESPN. At Yahoo!, Wojnarowski established himself as the top news breaker in the NBA, so it made all the sense in the world for ESPN to sign him away from Yahoo!.
However, before Wojnarowski officially joined ESPN in July of 2017, the sports media company laid off over 100 employees. Was it a coincidence, or did Wojnarowski explicitly tell ESPN to fire employees to make room for his arrival?
Adrian Wojnarowski became a full-time reporter at Yahoo! in 2007
In 2007, Adrian Wojnarowski left The Record and joined Yahoo! Sports as a full-time reporter. He consistently beat ESPN, USA TODAY Sports, and other big-time sports outlets in the breaking news department.
In 2016, Wojnarowski launched The Vertical, Yahoo! Sports’ NBA page. It featured Woj, Michael Lee, Shams Charania, Bobby Marks, and Chris Mannix. Wojnarowski’s team was taking over the NBA reporting world.
Starting with the 2016 NBA draft, Wojnarowski and Charania would tweet draft picks and trades ahead of time. The two NBA reporters captivated basketball fans with their scoops and made drafts more fun.
As is the case in any line of work, though, Adrian Wojnarowski and his group at The Vertical had their enemies, and most of them were at ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski had beef with John Hollinger and Ethan Sherwood Strauss
Since Adrian Wojnarowski and his team at Yahoo! were taking over the sports media world despite being a small group, other companies were getting jealous of their success, most notably writers and reporters at ESPN.
According to Kevin Draper, previously of The New Republic, Wojnarowski and John Hollinger got into a minor back-and-forth at the 2011 NBA Finals. Woj also once called Hollinger “a statistician who worked for a cable company.”
“There does seem to be real animosity between Wojnarowski and ESPN’s reporters,” Draper wrote in 2014. “During the 2011 NBA Finals, the entire basketball media was in Dallas to report on it. After one of the games, Hollinger was driving out of the parking lot in his rental car. As he got close to Wojnarowski, Spears, and Yahoo Sports NBA editor Johnny Ludden, Hollinger rolled down his window and joked, ‘Oh man, I could’ve taken out the whole Yahoo operation!’ As he began to drive away, Wojnarowski yelled after him, ‘And we’d still kick your ass from the grave!’ “
Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Stein never got into it, but it is believed they weren’t fond of each other back in the day since they were rivals in the sports media business. As for Ethan Sherwood Strauss, he wrote a piece in 2010 ripping Woj’s LeBron James article.
Did Woj tell ESPN to fire people before he came on?
Several ESPN employees told Kevin Draper in 2017 that they believe Adrian Wojnarowski explicitly told ESPN to fire some employees to make room for his arrival. Marc Stein, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, and Henry Abbott were the biggest names to be let go before Woj was hired in July of 2017.
Abbot is close friends with John Hollinger, who now works for The Athletic. After getting laid off, Stein landed with the New York Times, while Sherwood Strauss joined Holinger at The Athletic.