After a stint in ESPN’s doghouse, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski finally resurfaced Friday with news of Domantas Sabonis’ foot injury. Losing Sabonis, a first-time All-Star this year, will be a tough pill for the playoff-bound Pacers to swallow, but arguably the bigger story is Woj himself, who, last we saw, was in hot water for a profane email sent to Missouri senator Josh Hawley. While many including Lakers mega-star LeBron James applauded the 51-year-old journalist for standing up to Hawley, who had questioned the NBA’s complicated relationship with China, Wojnarowski told the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand if he had to do it over, that email would have stayed in his drafts folder.
“I understood the decision they made,” said the Bristol, Connecticut native of ESPN’s decision to suspend him. “I accept it. I left them no choice. You can’t do what I did and not expect there to be consequences.” Wojnarowski, who joined ESPN in 2017 following a decade-long stint as Yahoo’s lead basketball reporter, reached out to apologize to Hawley, leaving the senator voicemails at his Missouri and D.C. offices, but never heard back.
“I can’t send an email like that to a senator or anybody in my position at ESPN,” said a remorseful Wojnarowski, who felt he let the company down with his brash comments. “That’s not a way I can express myself or should express myself to anyone.”
The longtime basketball scribe, who is used to breaking his own stories, said it was strange to see himself in the headlines. “I take pride in always letting the story be the news and letting the league be the news,” said Wojnarowski. “My action caused me to be the news and I regret that.”
Wojnarowski, who says he won’t shy away from covering China despite his recent brush with controversy, didn’t particularly enjoy being on the sidelines and seems relieved to be back on his NBA beat. “I wasn’t in a position to report stories or to chase them down,” said Woj, recalling his agonizing two-week purgatory. “I don’t ever want to be in that position again.”
Now that he’s paid his penance, ESPN is ready to grant Woj a clean slate. “Woj is extraordinary at what he does as a trusted NBA newsbreaker,” said executive VP of content Connor Schell. “He made a mistake here, owned it and apologized for it. We are in a good place for this season and beyond and we are moving forward.”
Wojnarowski has just over a year remaining on his contract, but is hoping to stay at ESPN long term. “I have the best job in the world at the only place I want to do it at.” Eager to make up for lost time, Woj should be plenty busy with the NBA slated to resume its season after a four-month pause Thursday night in Orlando.