by Lang Whitaker

And I’m back, here in the Dome, ready to get to work. But what should I find upon my return? Why, it’s an email from ESPN!

Check out ESPN the Magazine’s new, comprehensive content on Spanish hoops star Ricky Rubio. We have a great feature story, an original photo gallery and a clip reel of the young star.

Wait a second, who or what is a Ricky Rubio? Well, I went to ESPN the Magazine’s story to find out. And the story’s dek tells me:

Sure, you’re still tingling about the NBA draft, but it’s our job as responsible journalsits (sic) to … launch the buzz for next year’s! Introducing Spain’s Ricky Rubio, basketball’s best-kept secret. (Oops.)

Hey, now here’s a novel idea from ESPN! Tell us more, ESPN the Magazine!

So why haven’t you heard of him?

Because no one was talking. The kid never spoke after games nor gave one-on-one interviews; neither his club nor his parents allowed it. The Rubios turned down million-euro endorsement deals to keep their superstar son’s life as regular as possible. And scouts kept quiet about the Spanish Pistol Pete Maravich to avoid the NBA’s hefty fine for commenting on underage prospects.

You know what? Come to think of it, I had heard of Ricky Rubio. I heard about him two years ago, in fact. And then, about 15 months ago, I read a huge feature on him in some magazine…what was that…oh, it was in SLAM! And when that feature dropped, I wrote a very long post about Ricky on SLAMonline. Then, just a few months ago, I was interviewed on Canal, the huge TV network in Europe, about Ricky. And even they talked about how SLAM did a big story on Ricky.

And now that I’m really thinking about it, I remember getting a bunch of emails from other NBA writers when I published that initial Ricky post, from people at Yahoo!, SI, even at, yep, ESPN, saying how they couldn’t wait to see him play, etc.

But it’s not like I discovered Ricky, either. OK, so I wrote the first American magazine story about him, but he’d been all over sites like NBADraft.net, DraftExpress, and even, yep, ESPN.com. And in Spain he’s already a well-known entity, a Nike endorser and a budding superstar.

Even worse, the ESPN the Magazine story not only compares Ricky to three white guys (Nash, Maravich and Cousy), but they really hammer the Pistol Pete connection, which isn’t very realistic, at least from a basketball perspective. Pistol Pete could handle the rock, but dude was a stone-cold scorer, while Ricky is more of a facilitator.

Still, you know, there’s a chance ESPN is correct. Maybe you are a basketball fan and you’ve never heard of Ricky Rubio. Which would totally explain why you’re reading ESPN the Magazine.

I used to hammer ESPN.com almost every day here on SLAMonline.com, but that’s when their NBA expertise came almost completely from Charley Rosen, which is never a good idea. Since then, ESPN.com has improved, and I’m not going to knock them just for the sake of knocking them. I know people there who work hard and give credit where credit is due. I know some people at ESPN the Magazine who are the same. But if ESPN (or anyone, for that matter) screws up, I’ll gladly point it out, just like people out there on the internets like to point out when I make a mistake.

As ESPN the Magazine’s dek wants us to know, they are responsible “journalsits.” (Their word, not mine. And I took a screenshot in case they change it.) Perhaps they are responsible “journalsits.” But taking complete credit for a story that a lot of other people have worked hard to cover, that’s not cool.

And that’s definitely not responsible journalsims.