Twany Beckham is a Kentucky junior who plays about three minutes a game and hasn’t scored this season. He’s a Mississippi State transfer.
So how did he create a minor stir Monday? By being the focus of comments by Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury.
Before Monday’s press conference to preview the Kentucky-Mississippi State game, Stansbury said this, which he apparently thought was off the record:
“I saw his stats the other day in SEC play. Did he make one or attempt one shot? He’s getting a pretty good ride right now. He’s seeing some pretty good basketball. He’s getting a front-row ticket every night. Yes, sir.”
Rip job? A little fun at the expense of a player who once played for him? Probably. But Stansbury later tried to quell the furor among UK fans by issuing this statement:
“I’d like to clear up the comments I made earlier today about Twany Beckham. First off, they were taken out of context. I’ve never said anything negative about a player, nor will I. Again, those comments were taken out of context. Earlier tonight, I called Twany & had a great conversation with him. He’s a great kid & I would never say anything to hurt or embarrass him. I wish him nothing but the best.”
Yeah, that needs some more context. Let’s turn to Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal:
Why does that matter? Well, an e-mail I got tonight from MSU’s media relations director explained it. He said Stansbury routinely chats with the beat writers before the official start of his press conferences and most of them understand that what’s said is not for publication. Today, Stansbury was “shooting the bull” with reporters, who’d been debating whether Beckham was on scholarship at UK now or not when the coach entered the room.
That’s apparently when Stansbury said what he said about Beckham. Most every reporter in the room decided not to run with those comments. HOWEVER, it is important to note that Stansbury was walking into a PRESS CONFERENCE and approaching a table with several recording devices, which were on. The AP writer took that to mean, as I did, that anything said was ON the record.
Consider for a moment – as I asked MSU’s media relations guy to do – what would happen if John Calipari stepped to the podium for a UK press conference and made a joke about a player or another coach? If Calipari said ANYTHING, interesting or not, within earshot of a camera or audio recorder in a PRESS CONFERENCE setting, it would become public. And Calipari understands that.
In another setting, talking to a couple of us hacks off to the side, “shooting the bull” in that environment, when it’s not a scheduled media gathering and I’m not holding a recorder in front of his face, then the standards are different. He can crack a joke with me or tell me something that he doesn’t want to become public and I absolutely won’t write it. Otherwise, how would a source ever trust me?
Most any reporter with any training understands the concept of “on the record” and “off the record.” But any veteran coach also has to know when he walks into a room full of live microphones that he can’t just say things and expect the comments will never see the light of day – especially if they’re potentially controversial. And saying “off the record” retroactively doesn’t work.
Well put, Kyle. Now can we just fast-forward to 11 p.m. Tuesday night when we can talk about how Kentucky extended its SEC record to 13-0?
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