Adrian Wojnarowski’s method of evading the “rule” not to spoil picks created some of the funniest moments of the 2018 NBA Draft.
There’s been a tradition in recent years of the NBA Draft turning into a race between reporters to see who could spoil the draft picks the furthest ahead of time. It got to the point where last year, a live audience member was shouting out the picks before assistant commissioner Mark Tatum had a chance to.
This year, it looked like that was dead. It was reported leading up to the draft that Shams Charania of Yahoo, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, David Aldridge of Turner, and all of their coworkers, had agreed not to break picks ahead of time.
And then Mark Stein started breaking picks, starting from the No. 1 overall pick. At first, he was mostly announcing things that had already been reported pre-draft as locks, but the fact that he was reporting it as official was a threat to the ceasefire. Then Woj and Shams Charania announced the Luka Doncic trade using specific players, and it looked like the detente was gone. Shams immediately turned around and announced directly that the Grizzlies had selected Jaren Jackson Jr. at No. 4.
But Woj’s response to this was a delightfully passive aggressive use of language. In every tweet from then on, he didn’t once say that a pick was a lock. He started using nebulous language that didn’t absolutely confirm the pick, but basically did. Memphis was “locked in on selecting Jaren Jackson Jr.”. Orlando was “focused on selecting Mo Bamba”. And the internet went wild with it.
Amir, of Jake and Amir fame, tweeted the mental image of Woj getting late in the draft, sweating profusely as he ran out of analogies and thumbing through a thesaurus, before finally settling on “are tickled with”.
Chris Walder joked about how much the tweets sounded like flirting, even tagging someone who, based on a brief amount of research, appears to be his girlfriend.
Overall, Wojnarowski’s malicious compliance with the ESPN policy not to spoil draft picks created a great comedic moment and was one of the best stories of the NBA draft.