Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s happened. We’ve gone off the deep end.
On the most basic cable, we have ESPN and ESPN 2, with the possibility of adding ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPNNEWS, NFL Network, MLB Network and many more. And we just don’t have enough to talk about anymore.
But what’s the problem with that, you ask? Surely too much sports cannot be a real problem. I thought so, too. I thought that we could just analyze to our heart’s content, and while it may become boring, it couldn’t really do any harm.
But we’ve gotten to the point where, in place of sound analysis (since we no longer can fill up the time with sound analysis), we’ve started throwing out foolish claims simply for the sake of discussion, and it’s gone too far.
People listen to, watch and read sports commentators because they expect a well-respected, well-thought-out, knowledgeable opinion on the sports they follow. And when these commentators take their analysis so far as to destroy the credibility of analysis itself, it has gone away from the original goal.
Despite my opinions to the contrary, I could understand the criticism of LeBron James after the Heat’s Game Two loss to the Pacers. James missed two free throws with less than a minute to go. Those free throws would have given his team the lead. Then, he did not take the final shot of the game when the Heat needed three points to tie it and send the contest to overtime.
Let’s not mention that he had 10 points and six rebounds in the final period, outscoring all but his teammate Dwyane Wade, who had 11 in the quarter. There is of course no reason to talk about the fact that the player who did take the final shot, Mario Chalmers, is a better 3-point shooter than James, or about the pick that James set to free up Chalmers to take a nearly uncontested shot for the win.
James choked, and that was all anyone could see. The first 10 minutes of the quarter didn’t matter, when the Heat stormed back from a nine-point deficit to start the quarter, led by James and Wade. James once again removed himself from the spotlight (even if it was the best decision for the team), and he was ridiculed for it.
All of that criticism I expected. What I did not expect happened after the following night’s games.
The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 77-75, and with just under five seconds to go, it was Steve Blake, and not Kobe Bryant, who took the final shot for the Lakers.
The next day on ESPN, the topic of conversation centered around whether or not Kobe had lost his clutch, game-closing ability. Now wait just one minute. We’re talking about Kobe Bryant, right? The most clutch end-game shooter since Michael Jordan? The man with five NBA championship rings? The guaranteed viagra online pharmacy first-ballot hall-of-famer?
Because Steve Blake, the Lakers’ shooting specialist, took a last-second, open shot for the win, Kobe is no longer a clutch performer?
When we’ve reached this level, we’re simply talking for the sake of filling up time.
If a sports analyst actually cared if people respected his opinion, he would never even think about making such a ludicrous statement. But in today’s world of sports media, people care more about hearing an argument than about hearing actual, well-conceived analysis.
Someone doesn’t choke in every sports contest. One failed game does not take away from an entire career of success. Not every loser had a player who failed his team. In every game, one team wins and one team loses, and usually it’s because one team played better than the other. At their hearts, sports are pretty simple. But for the sake of good television, we’ve made it our job to critique every single shortcoming of every player that participates.
This time, we’ve gone too far.
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