During a 30-minute interview, one question caused ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski to pause for 12 seconds. Wojnarowski is used to being the one breaking the news, tweeting it and talking about it on TV.
So being on the other end of a query is not his triple-threat position.
Known for “Woj bombs,” his scoops have earned him a seven-figure salary and minted him among the most powerful people in the NBA. This is why his comfort zone is asking, not answering.
The question that caused Wojnarowski to halt was if he had ever sent a “F–k you” email to anyone before he delivered that message to Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo) two weeks ago.
“I regretted sending that email,” Wojnarowski told The Post after the long pause. “I have not made a habit of doing that, but I sent that one and I regret it.”
Wojnarowski later said he had never sent an email such as that before, but he is fully regretful for his actions that led to what he thinks is the first suspension of his life, a two-week timeout without pay that has just concluded.
ESPN suspended Wojnarowski after Hawley revealed on Twitter that Wojnarowski emailed “F–k you” following a letter Hawley sent to media members’ inboxes questioning the NBA’s relationship with China.
“I understood the decision they made,” Wojnarowski, 51, said. “I accept it. I left them no choice. You can’t do what I did and not expect there to be consequences.”
Wojnarowski received support for his actions from colleagues and NBA players, including LeBron James, who tweeted, “#FreeWoj.”
“I’m far more comfortable reporting the news, trying to break the news than being the news,” Wojnarowski said. “I take pride in always letting the story be the news and letting the league be the news. My action caused me to be the news and I regret that.”
Wojnarowski was upset with himself for letting down everyone at ESPN/Disney; especially his bosses, beginning with the network’s president, Jimmy Pitaro.
“I took away focus from the company,” Wojnarowski said. “In that way, I think I let people down. It is a difficult enough time that we are living in, that the company is operating in, that everybody is having to deal with. I made it harder for everybody. That was difficult to come to grips with.”
Wojnarowski said he left voice messages at Hawley’s office in Washington and Missouri, but did not hear back. Wojnarowski declined to go into detail as to why he sent the email that emanated from his iPhone.
“I’m not going to go there,” Wojnarowski said. “I can’t send an email like that to a senator or anybody in my position at ESPN. That’s not a way I can express myself or should express myself to anyone.”
Hawley’s letter was to NBA commissioner Adam Silver and focused on the league’s relationship with China. ESPN, as a business partner and a Disney company, has been in the middle of it all.
In October, Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted in support of a free Hong Kong. This caused a major international business flare-up between China and the NBA. Wojnarowski liked the Morey tweet and, as Deadspin first mentioned, was soon no longer on his Tencent show, “Woj in the House.”
Wojnarowski said ESPN will follow the NBA-China story.
“I and we have reported about the NBA’s relationship with China,” Wojnarowski said. “We will continue to report on it when it is warranted. It has been an ongoing story.”
Wojnarowski describes NBA newsbreaking as a 24/7/365 job. When asked if he had any potential “Woj bombs” during his suspension that he had to keep to himself, he instead praised the work of colleagues Malika Andrews, Zach Lowe, Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon.
When reminded that wasn’t the question, he said he put down his notebook for the break.
“I wasn’t reporting,” Wojnarowski said. “I wasn’t in a position to report stories or to chase them down. I wasn’t chasing them down. I don’t like the feeling of it. I don’t ever want to be in that position again. I always want to be somebody that they can count on to be productive. I want to get back to that.”
Wojnarowski also does not want to go anywhere. The feeling from ESPN is mutual.
“Woj is extraordinary at what he does as a trusted NBA newsbreaker,” said Connor Schell, ESPN’s executive vice president of content. “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.”
As Wojnarowski, with more than a year left on his contract, returns to work, he sounds like an ESPN lifer.
“To me, I have the best job in the world at the only place I want to do it at,” Wojnarowski said.
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