In our new weekly feature John Cronin breaks down what is happening in the NBA world and lets us know what he thinks is good and not so good in the league…
Watching the NBA, or even a show about the NBA, on ESPN often serves as a reminder of how little we in northwest Europe know about basketball. While BBC’s Match of the Day football show (just in case you weren’t aware what that is!) provides punditry which rarely transcends the mundane, and frequently is so uninformed and uninteresting that it borders on the insulting, ESPN features journalists and former players who really know there stuff and give insights and points of contention which you actually mull over in your mind whilst watching. It is the most interactive form of punditry, as most commentators transmit their views to the world via twitter over the course of any given day. Anyone follow @alanhansen or @alanshearer?
Side note – I once saw Shearer described as a “squaddie who had just beaten someone to death with a shoe”. That still makes me laugh when I see his disgruntled face point out that any given footballer “must do better” with a missed chance or “will be disappointed not to have scored”. Really, Alan?
By contrast, ESPN employ a series of pundits whose opinions are insightful and interesting. One cannot watch any of the “sports shouting” shows that the channel broadcasts on weekday afternoons (late nights in the UK and Ireland) without at least acknowledging that each of the participants have really thought about the topics at hand. Again this contrasts to MOTD where Shearer once boasted “Our knowledge of these two teams is limited” during the Slovenia vs Algeria game at the 2010 World Cup. Ever heard of wikipedia Alan?
You simply cannot say the say about the likes of Mike Wilbon, Bomani Jones (who I might not always agree with, but find easily the most entertaining of the Around the Horn talking heads), Woody Paige, Jackie McMullan, Stephen A. Smith (a close second favourite of mine), or even the inflammatory Skip Bayless. It also has a series of young female reporters like Erin Andrews and Rachel Nichols who fill the Sky Sports News role of “nice to look at, nice to listen to” anchor.
So why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, oh why, OH WHY did ESPN decide to promote the barely sentient Doris Burke to the role of court-side interviewer for the NBA conference finals? WHY? Seriously, why?
Burke sidles up to the players and coaches on-court at half time and, magically, without even moving her lips, asks excessively long questions of players who would clearly rather be somewhere else. There was honestly no-one better to do this? Not Craig Sager…
A couple of examples: