Warning: punching inside!
Don’t get me wrong, I lived for NBA Fastbreak, the only show on television that took live game footage from around the country and turned into something altogether blank and unintelligible. But its successor, the truly space-aged NBA Nation, is a show for all eternal darkness. Not only have they taken the squandered wealth of Fastbreak and run with it—good luck getting in more than a second of meaningful game-watching, or even a decently executed highlight reel. The good folks at ESPN have now seen fit to truly let creatures writhe, as some of the network’s most petulant and wilted hoops talking heads get together to say things so insider-y, so crotchety, and so divinely trivial that even obsessives such as myself have trouble not choking on their own screeching breath. If your idea of a time that time forget is hearing Greg Anthony, Marc Stein, Ric Bucher, Tim Legler, and, triumphantly, Stephen A. Smith, bicker about matters so hoops-intensive that they very suddenly cease to be real, make the switch!
The following is a very real transcript of part of this past evening's “Put Up or Shut Up” segment, in which participants say outrageous things that they, for some reason, feel like arguing with their colleagues over. This may be short, but puts into a locket all that is vast and perfect about this trundling crest of a program.
(Newsflash: what if Jaws had been a giant lamprey? Would we not all still be scared?)
Ric Bucher: I predict that Al Jefferson will have more double-doubles than Dwight Howard in the second half.
Greg Anthony: [something about the Celtics being in the playoff chase. Pronounced Howard's first name “Duh-wight” the whole time. Then started complaining about Bucher using “his sources” in formulating his “Put Up or Shut Up” positions]
This was only the finest it had to offer. In the twenty minutes I caught, I also got to witness Bucher complaining with fire about when COY goes to someone like Skiles, who fixes an underachieving team, and experience Legler’s truly revolutionary argument that Iverson deserves MVP consideration because he’s having a better season (with a worse supporting cast) than he had the year he actually won it.
On a lighter note, I think I have lost the ability to differentiate between Wade, LeBron, and Amare. They have become a Trinity of basketball salvation, each of them embodying a different aspect of the twenty-first century baller: Wade, the grit and determination; LeBron, the supernatural wunderkind; Amare, raw power and dynamic energy. I can’t think of one without bringing up the other two. And I honestly feel that their respective fates—nay, the fate of the league—depend on this co-identification. Remember Bron/Melo? This formation is like that, but with teeth, and an extra player.
If you don’t believe me, answer this small question: which of the three do you favor the most? In my corner, the answer must be “any and all.”