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The Danger of the Combative, F-You Style Reply on Email (Woj and ESPN edition)

Late last week I covered the decreasing dominance of Adrian Wojnarowski, an NBA reporter who has an incredible run of being THE source for breaking news in the NBA. Read that post and you'll see that "Woj" (as he's known to the masses) is increasingly being challenged by Shams Charania, a writer at The Athletic. He goes by "Shams", and recently has been breaking as much news as Woj, to the point where followers of the craft are mocking Woj for reporting news that Shams beat him to, if only by seconds or a few minutes on Twitter.  

More bad news for Woj late last week and over the weekend... Woj responded to a PR firm of a US Senator challenging the NBA for its stance on China with a simple response delivered via a two world email Wojreply: 'F**k You."

Here's a few simple details via Bleacher Report:

"ESPN has suspended NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski after he wrote "f--k you" in response to an email from Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley's press office, per Ryan Glasspiegel of Outkick.

Wojnarowski has been suspended without pay, per Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, who offered further details:

"ESPN declined comment, though their actions will likely become obvious this week when the ultra-prominent Wojnarowski is not on the air. The end point of Wojnarowski’s suspension, if that has been defined, is not yet known."

The suspension occurred after Wojnarowski made the remark in reply to a press-release blast from Hawley, who said the NBA was "kowtowing to Beijing" and "refusing to support U.S. military and law enforcement."

Here's the email response from Woj to the PR firm served up - of course - by Senator Hawley (email subscribers click through for the tweet):

So that's a lot. But I want you to step back, take all the politics out of it, strip all of the partisan BS away. I don't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican. Doesn't matter.

Woj screwed up. Something came across his desk that he either didn't agree with, or his political view of the person sending it got in the way of good judgment. So he went back with a harsh reply. And in the process, gave all of his power away. He allowed someone he disagreed with to take his reply and position it any way he wanted.

The older I get, the less email I send - especially that could be consider combative. Better to be neutral and better yet, not respond at all.

By winning the email chain (in his mind) and losing the bigger battle (suspended, more importantly, looks erratic to many moving forward), Woj loses. Shams has already eaten away at his dominance. Woj deals in confidential conversations where stability is key. He also deals with lots of NBA front office officials who don't want China to be on the mind of anyone when thinking about the NBA after the Darrly Morey incident in 2019.

When you make your money by being trusted, erratic is bad. Erratic is a reason not to give you the information you need to do your job.

Managers/Leaders, take note. Being erratic, while it may feel great in the moment and while you may feel you're 100% right - is a good way to get shut out over time. Stay away from any type of messaging that can be forwarded and spun without your control.

On a final related note, Shams (Woj's competition) liked an anti-Woj tweet on the matter.

Take politics out of the equation. Erratic behavior loses in the business world. Unless you're 100% in charge and/or on top of the world, which Woj is not.

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