Waiting on Woj

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For many diehard NBA fans, the days leading up to the trade deadline mean one thing: constantly refreshing one man’s Twitter profile over and over and over again. That man is Adrian Wojnarowski, better known as “Woj,” who essentially plays the role of an omniscient, almost mythical figure in the world of the NBA. The journalist, who switched from Yahoo! Sports to ESPN in 2017, is known for breaking trades, draft picks, free agency signings — you name it, he’s already tweeted it.

More specifically, these tweets have been coined “Woj Bombs,” which have evolved into an obsession for his 3.8 million followers, who consistently wait for news that their team’s fate is about to take a turn for the better. And with the NBA’s trade deadline being Thursday, there has been no shortage of activity on Woj’s page — on Tuesday, he broke the details of the NBA’s largest trade since 2000, which saw 12 players and multiple picks get moved in the four-team trade.

In fact, Oklahoma City center Steven Adams — who has been the subject of many trade rumors himself recently — admits to checking Twitter often for Woj Bombs. In a story for The Oklahoman, he said: “As we all know, what Woj says is prophecy.” Woj’s tweets hold so much allure that there’s even a skill that can be taught to Amazon Alexa devices that allow one to have Woj’s tweets read aloud every time a new one is published.

The 50-year-old reporter’s scoops are rarely wrong or presumptive, which is why his respect and credibility in the sports industry is what many aspire to attain. His incredibly vast network of players, agents, coaches and executives allows him to piece together the latest scoops on the NBA’s constantly shifting landscape. Between him and former protége Shams Charania, the duo breaks nearly every NBA transaction, so much so that it has become a competition where Twitter followers declare which of the two “won” certain days of free agency.

These guys are so insanely quick that it is not uncommon for players to find out they have been traded by seeing a Woj Bomb, well before they’ve even had the chance to be informed by the team. Former Los Angeles Lakers Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball both said they found out via Twitter that they were being sent to the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster trade.

Woj isn’t just a news-breaker either, however, as the respect he has earned among the league’s followers has translated into other avenues as well. He still writes the occasional column and is otherwise best known for hosting The Woj Pod, which is understood to be one of the most informative and insightful NBA podcasts out there.

Heading into the 2018 NBA draft, ESPN instructed Woj and its other reporters not to reveal picks on social media before they had been announced on television. Woj didn’t necessarily break the rule, but I wouldn’t say he abided by it either. Rather than explicitly stating that a team was set to draft a certain player — which Woj usually does several minutes before the pick is announced on TV — he used incredibly creative phrasing to suggest extreme likelihood of a player getting picked. Some of these gems include tweeting that “Chicago is zeroing in on Wendell Carter with the seventh overall pick …”  or that the “Utah Jazz have no plans to pass on Grayson Allen with the 21st pick.”

While executives at the NBA are obviously less than thrilled that Woj essentially spoils their entire live draft show each year, they have more to thank him for than anything. In most professional sports, the end of the playoffs signifies a hibernation period. But the week the 2019 NBA Finals ended, I had already found myself enamored with draft buzz, closely following Woj’s projections and prophecies. Then after that? The free agency rumors reel me right back in, and all of a sudden, it’s July and summer league has started.

Any NBA fan who is active on social media knows who Woj is, and whenever anything basketball related is trending on Twitter, the flurry of fans’ rants can, more often than not, be traced back to a Woj tweet.

The man has single-handedly done so much in increasing league engagement, and his scoops are the reason why many fans see the NBA’s offseason with just as much excitement as the midseason madness. Between free agency, the trade deadline and the draft, Woj sacrifices his sleep cycle to keep fans hooked year-round.

Shailin Singh covers football. Contact him at [email protected].