As the government deals with the fallout from their budget leak, it seems the New Zealand Breakers are also investigating their own “big leak”.
The Breakers finally put rumours about their big international news to bed yesterday, announcing the signing of American point guard RJ Hampton – a player widely considered to be a first-round pick in the NBA draft next year.
The 18-year-old is a highly touted talent and turned his back on top basketball colleges including Duke, Kansas and Kentucky to play in New Zealand.
While the signing is excellent news for the four-time NBL champions, Kiwi fans were salivating over the prospect of a different player arriving on New Zealand’s shores during the buildup to the announcement.
Rumours that 10-time NBA All Star Carmelo Anthony was on the verge of joining the Breakers started circulating social media, which was eventually picked up by some mainstream media outlets.
Speaking on Barstool Sports’ ‘Pardon My Take’ podcast, Walsh set the record straight on how the speculation came to be, revealing that he was the one who planted the Anthony rumour in an attempt to find a mole within the organisation.
“I had to throw out a little misinformation to identify the leak,” Walsh said. “We’re still working through that.
“Basically, I put it out on our group WhatsApp. Everyone asked what the big global news was going to be, so I put a picture of ‘Hoody Carmelo’ up and about 10 minutes later, it was all over New Zealand media.
“We’ve got a big leak in the organisation, so we’re working through it now. I think all things considered, we did a pretty good job keeping it contained.”
Despite not yet finding the mole, the “leak” only ended up adding more hype to the announcement, especially in New Zealand.
After yesterday’s official announcement, Hampton said he was looking forward to joining the Breakers.
“It’s an honour to be a part of the NBL’s Next Stars programme and to be joining a team with such a successful history as the Breakers,” said Hampton.
“It’s going to be the perfect next step for me as I continue along the path towards fulfilling my dream of playing in the NBA.”