Merritt Paulson is one of us.
The Portland Timbers and Thorns FC owner tweeted his disdain for ESPN, and more specifically Stephan A Smith, for seemingly trying to force Damian Lillard out of Portland to play in a so-called "big market."
"Nobody (fans or media) ever makes this point about Rodgers in Green Bay or Mahomes in KC," wrote Paulson. "You can cover the Blazers just like you cover the Chiefs.
"And I don't even hear it on Giannis [with] the Bucks. Such a stupid piece of commentary. @Dame_Lillard is just fine where he’s at."
He has a point.
Kansas City is the 34th ranked media market. Milwaukee is the 37th. Portland is the 21st.
Despite that ESPN finds it easy to cover every storyline surrounding Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes but when it comes to Damian Lillard, all they can come up with is "He should go to the Knicks!"
In the last 24 hours, ESPN has run segments asking if Devin Booker (whose Phoenix Suns have the NBA's second-best record), Luka Doncic (who appears to be an MVP candidate in Dallas), and now Damian Lillard (whose Blazers are fifth in the West) should force their way to the New York Knicks.
Paulson mentions not hearing it about Giannis Antetokounmpo which is also true ever since he signed his super-max extension. When his free agency appeared to be oncoming, the vast majority of the Bucks' coverage was surrounding if Giannis would leave. Now that he is locked up through 2025, with a $51 million player option for 2025-26, national sports outlets are ignoring the Bucks, who own the NBA's second-best net rating, to talk about... the Knicks who are not embarrassing at the All-Star break for the first time in eight seasons.
Also, Damian Lillard signed a supermax extension two offseasons ago and will not be eligible to be a free agent until 2025, the same time Giannis can be a free agent, but when it comes to Dame, ESPN would rather create narratives about him going to New York than give him honest coverage.
In the clip Smith posted, he said he wants Lillard going to a big market so basketball fans can watch him every night. Smith works for ESPN, a national broadcast partner of the NBA who can choose to put on as many Trail Blazers games as they want. The reasoning for his frustration is because his outlet is too lazy to do their jobs correctly.
Stephen A. Smith reportedly signed a five-year contract worth $8 million annually in 2019. NBA League Pass is $199.99. He can afford to watch Lillard as much as he wants, he just chooses not to.
You know the coverage comes across as disrespectful to the audience's intelligence when an owner of a professional team in another league calls you out.