Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why I Love Inside the NBA

Ok, so anyone that knows me knows I hate announcers, commentators, analysts, color men, play by players or ANYONE that puts their face on TV and pretends to care for 45 seconds while they simultaneously accomplish two goals: collect a pay check and piss me off. However, almost never, does a paid talking head or announcer say ANYTHING enlightening, informative or useful.

There are obviously some rare exceptions. Most radio guys are great. Some national guys I tolerate include Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit, Brad Nessler and others, but generally I can't stand the guys.

Howard Cossell used to complain about Don Merideth, that just because someone played the game, this fact does not make him a goo broadcaster. And this is generally true. That being said, I don't think that is the fundamental problem.

The biggest problem is that there is NO accountability. Guy's make predictions and analyses that are not monitored or cared for. This lack of accountability leads to lazy and uninformed analysis. For instance, a guy like Sean Salisbury, probably watches less football than any of us. He MIGHT watch highlights of the Browns Bills game, maybe he'll fast forward through the game. But he doesn't get a feel for the ebb and flo. He doesn't have an earthly idea about the Browns' offensive trends, or Buffalo's history in the snow - but he watches some highlights, makes a dumb comment that MIGHT have something to do with what happened - but because there is NO accountability, saying something like "Jamal Lewis had a great game in the snow" becomes insightful and called "analysis."

Really, all he did was tell us exactly what we watched, but because he backed up Bubby Brister, wears a suit, gets his ugly mug on tv, we're all supposed to buy into it. And furthermore, why do we need 2 hours of analysis about a game in which 8 points we scored. The real analysis comes from the bloggers who follow the team, and the players themselves. But these guys are uneducated, poor broadcasters who no the same amount about football as us.

But this is different in a few examples. Chris and Tom on NFL Primetime come to mind. Another example is Inside the NBA on TNT.

The reason we all love this show is the LACK of analysis. Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith know a lot about basketball, and use their knowledge when they have to. But they understand the idea that over-analysis, over-exposure and arrogant chitter chatter does not good analysis make. They are only one for a short period of time. They don't tell you what you just saw. They joke, they kid, they talk about their own experience (which is why they were hired in the first place) and they talk about the future without the "this is what's going to happen" tone.

They know they their guess in the world of sports is as good as ours, and to sit there and say "this will happen because I know what I'm talking about" is both insulting and false. Neither they, nor us, nor Paul Hoynes, Tony Grossi, or one of the Three-Named-Marys knows ANYTHING about what's going to happen.

Paul Hoynes is paid to do NOTHING but follow the Indians, and he picked them to finish fourth in the division this year. I'm not saying I could have done better (which I did) but the point is that pre-season predictions are more than anything: previous year recaps. So there is no qualifications for better predictions, better analysis, or better commentary. Merely a sense of humor, screen presence and a vague familiarity with the game. That's all I want.

And Inside the NBA gives us that. I watched tonight, and at no point did I get angry, insulted or think that these people need to be forcefully removed. In fact, I found it entertaining. Sports networks should take notes. I didn't leave more informed, I didn't learn who was going to win the West or who you'd rather be taking the last shot between Kobe, Lebron or Newble. Simply entertaining basketball talk from three guys who played and a great studio host.

That's all I want. Is it so damn hard?

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