TRUE LIES: An Investigation of Fake NBA Reporters on Twitter 🧐

by • April 29, 2019

I started direct messaging Shams Charan1a on Twitter about two hours after he had convinced a bunch of NBA writers that Anthony Davis would only re-sign with four teams, and one of them was somehow the Phoenix Suns.

This was all an elaborate lie, which should’ve been pretty easy to deduce, considering a big part of that lie was that a living person had expressed interest in trying to become a Phoenix Sun in early 2019.

But it slipped through because, this year, the trade deadline was like having a fever dream while falling asleep to a speed metal song. Only some things were real, and good God would somebody please turn off that noise? Nobody likes that noise.

The noise, in this case, was Shams Charan1a. No, not Shams Charania, the guy at The Athletic who breaks all the trades. I was talking to @ShamsCharan1a, the alphanumeric rumor hustler who won’t tell me any parts of his actual life, except that he somehow waited over two years for this moment.

His first tweet of any significance was a couple of hours ago, just three days before the trade deadline.

“It was always Shams,” he tells me. “No end goal, didn’t even think this would get any attention. Just have had this account for a while and don’t use it, so I figured, why not have a little fun with all the rumors flying around?”

The account was created in January of 2017, though. You waited this whole time to pose as a guy who announces trades and you didn’t even announce a trade?

“I guess you could say that.”

I’d be furious at this dude, but there are so many of these mini NBA Russian trolls every trade deadline. Another guy, maybe piggybacking on not-Shams, tweeted from an account called “Woj_espnNBA” announcing a pretty wonderful fake trade an hour later: Ingram, Ball, Kuzma, Hart and four first-round picks for…Jahlil Okafor. 

Pretty good. Tip your waitresses.

But there’s no joke here. The joke was, quite literally, on the writers. Noted verified NBA Twitter guy Steve McPherson tweeted “Sham Shams slams ‘Cans plans.” Fear The Sword, the very good Cavs blog, tweeted “Fake Shams. Literally a Sham Shams.”

So I wanted something resembling a shred of an answer. Duping the world is a beautiful American pastime. Why do this? 

Twenty-nine years ago, a woman got on a subway midway through the race and “won” the Boston Marathon. That is some solid American criminal ingenuity, right there. She did not take the Green Line so she could come in 4th.

Why not go big? Why not make somebody nervous? Why not “Anthony Davis has been traded to San Antonio for DeMar DeRozan, the rights to Gregg Popovich, several set pieces from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Davis Bertans?”

Why rob a bank just to steal all the lollipops?

“If I get banned, I get banned, I guess. It was all just some good fun and excitement, that’s all.”

That is not good enough. You got some hopes up for fans of the Phoenix Suns for a minute there. Phoenix Suns fans had their hopes up! This isn’t just identity theft, this is unforgivable and maybe unconstitutional. Deeply cruel and unusual.

“I just wanted to cause some extra stir in the NBA world and to draw about more rumors or excitement until either Woj or Shams actually tweeted,” he tells me.

OK, that’s… kind of adorable? Maybe we can be buddies. He can send me fake non-trade trade announcements. Maybe we can go to a Suns ga…

“This account has been suspended.”

“Learn more about why Twitter suspends accounts, or return to your timeline.”

OK, but what if I liked the crazier timeline better?

Ben Collins is a writer and reporter for NBC News. He’s also a SLAM columnist and writes The Outlet, a monthly column in which BC muses on…well, whatever he wants. Follow him on Twitter @oneunderscore_.