For those exhausted by the subject, take shelter in the fact that this is the last mention of Darren Rovell in any of my work. Some readers have been annoyed to see this crop up again and again, and I'm sympathetic to that. At the conclusion of this post and a single tweet linking to it, I will bow out of the everlasting navelgaze regarding ESPN's sports business reporter.
But before that, this needs to be laid out.
Rovell has had a few recent run-ins with Sacramento Kings fans. A few weeks ago, he tweeted a photo of a relatively sparse Sleep Train Arena crowd with the comment: "Remind me why we are trying to save the Kings for Sacramento again?" Our Brian Floyd destroyed that quite well. But the overwhelming backlash against Rovell seemed to get him interested in the subject. I personally sparred with him over Twitter twice on the subject -- the night of that infamous tweet and on the morning of Feb. 9.
On that second spat, fan groups joined together to promote a single game: Feb. 9 against the Jazz, dubbed Here We Buy Night. One group got a massive block of tickets. Other groups raised money to buy tickets for local disadvantaged youth. (More than 600 tickets were purchased from more than $9,000 in donations. The money was raised in three days via an SB Nation blog, Sactown Royalty, which in full disclosure is edited by me.) Another group organized a tailgate. An after-party. Chant flyers were distributed. Chants were led. Chants were loud. Kings players commented on the fan energy after the game. The opponents commented on it. The Jazz broadcast team -- TV and radio -- lauded Sacramento fans.
On a parallel track, Rovell's reputation was taking a hit thanks entirely to blog godfather Will Leitch's Sports On Earth mowdown. Leitch talked to a few Rovell critics in an attempt to put to paper exactly what made the writer so reviled. Given my recent issues with Rovell, I discussed Leitch's column in Tuesday's Hook. I made the case as to why I felt Rovell was intellectually dishonest for citing empty arenas as a reason for relocation while arguing that attendance doesn't matter, arena money does. That prompted Rovell to bring the dust-up back to Twitter on Wednesday morning.
In the end, the argument came down to semantics. Rovell argued that Here We Buy Night was a failure because fans didn't sell out the building. (More than 16,000 showed up. Capacity is just over 17,000. Before the ticket drive began, about 12,000 tickets had been sold.) I replied that selling out the building was never an explicit goal. And things got particularly weird.
Alright, this is it. RT @darrenrovell: If you call something Here We Buy and there are 1,300+ seats available, what message does that send?— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) February 13, 2013
[Then I went on a multi-tweet rant about how Here We Buy Night was a raging success, yet still not good enough for Rovell.]
@teamziller your own site said that Here We Buy was partly about selling out. The arena didn’t sell out, Tom.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) February 13, 2013
That sounded strange to me, because the Here We Buy had explicitly discussed focusing on getting a good, positive, loud crowd instead of pulling out all the stops for a sellout crowd. The tone of the crowd was more important than whether we hit the magic 17,317 mark.
@darrenrovell I can't find any reference to a sell-out being the primary goal. We talking about getting a good crowd. I'd say we did it.— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) February 13, 2013
@teamziller CBS Sacramento: "Fans made it their mission to sellout the game against the Utah Jazz, calling it "Here We Buy Night."— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) February 13, 2013
@darrenrovell I write CBS Sacramento now?— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) February 13, 2013
@teamziller feb 9 on your site: "we have to prove ourselves (by selling out) one last time…maybe for the last time."— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) February 13, 2013
@darrenrovell Can't find that anywhere on Feb. 9 stories. Link?— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) February 13, 2013
Hmm, this is strange. I'm positive we specifically avoided sellout talk, but maybe he's got me ... I mean, there's no way he'd totally make something up in order to win a largely irrelevant, inane argument I personally regret wasting time on. He wouldn't. He's a journalist.
@darrenrovell The parenthetical reference doesn't appear in the post. Did you add that? Making sure my co-editors didn't edit story today.— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) February 13, 2013
@teamziller yes i did. it refers to a sellout Tom. We are now arguing over that?— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) February 13, 2013
And this is where I lost it, it being my sanity, all respect for Rovell and any interest in trying to help him see the error of his ways. When caught in a mistake -- not a lie, a mistake, and an understandable one nonetheless -- he responded not with self-correction or even misdirecting bluster. He responded by doctoring a quote from a post on my blog. AND TRYING TO PASS IT OFF ON ME AS REAL. I know I'm not the smartest guy around, but I think I can smell a fabricated quote from my own blog.
Rovell claims that post referred to a sellout. You can read it for yourself. There's one mention of sellouts: the Kings' famous old sellout streaks of decades past. There are zero mentions of a sellout being the goal of Here We Buy Night. In fact, here are a few quotes that would clear up any confusion.
Here We Buy night is about supporting KJ and giving more ammo for when he flies to New York to plead our case. It's one more (maybe small) card up his sleeve. It's a chance to get on national TV (NBATV) and local TV (News10) and show that the people in this town still care. That attendance the past few years is more of a reflection of the ineptitude that has plagued this franchise for years. To show that we care a lot about the jobs that are on the line: from Grant and Jerry, to the G-Man, to Moak, to Jen and Fresh, to the new media guys, and all the way down to the ushers and parking attendants. February 9th should be a distraction from all the legal jargon, bankruptcy courts, and trolls from the Northwest. [...]
So tell your friends, bring your family, and spread the word. Let's fill this place up as much as possible. Chant flyers will be out next week, bring your signs, bring the cowbells, will this awful team (it's true!) to a win yet again. Bring some momentum back to this movement to keep the Kings here because this is it.
"Let's fill this place up as much as possible." Sounds like it's sellout or bust to me, right?
We can all disagree about any number of things, including whether fans were successful in Sacramento this weekend and whether Sacramento deserves the Kings. But inventing quotes to make our case during an argument spurred by accusations of intellectual dishonesty is a wanking motion too far. I am very much over trying to make Darren Rovell see both sides of this issue, because I am very much over believing that Rovell might be an honest journalist.
Back to basketball.