The Horse That Loved
Don't get me wrong, I love having League Pass with all my earthly heart. But at least seventeen times per otherwise-unattainable telecast, I find myself reaching for the Sterno and barbed wire, ready to grate off my face just so I won't have to hear homer commentary anymore. Tuesday's Bulls/Suns parade was a real bladder-mousser, and yet the Chicago broadcasters had me turning away regularly. These guys didn't even wait to see the replay before they declared the call abysmal or righteous, depending solely on what their team needed. To me it's silly and prehistoric, but I'm not the person for whom they shill. They're supposed to stoke the flames of energy, to pull off the high-wire act that is informed bias.
I often find myself questioning if these people in fact like the sport of basketball, or just the team that happens to play it. You'll find non-stop love for Steve Nash, but good luck catching any of them suitably impressed by LeBron or Amare. While it's a matter of degree depending on the city, and I almost invariably find myself screaming at the screen "IT WAS A MASTERFUL FEAT BY A WONDEROUS BEING. SHOW SOME RESPECT FOR THINE ENEMY." In these moments of forced nonchalance, I find this stance almost childishly absurd. I understand the nature of disappointment, and so I also recognize that victory is dulled if the foe is consistently downplayed. Wouldn't you prefer to feel as if you were going blow-for-blow with a beast, rather than set up a situation where loss can only equal failure?
You probably didn't even need to hear me tell you this: homer announcers are the anti-FD. Now, the twist: this is ritually true when it comes to stars. Turn to the lesser figures, though, and I believe you'll be surprised at the sides I can take. In my hopeful experience, network guys frequently fall back on some pretty standard personel assessments. Hell, they have to keep track of the entire league; why wouldn't they cut a few corners when it comes to the most intimate details of bench players? A lot of times, this means valorizing vets even if they're playing like shit, slurping that one hustle player, and hanging on to college memories as if they still mean something. If I had a penny for every time they told me a high school rookie was "still learning" or "had a long way to go," I wouldn't need your fucking pennies.
The hometown guys, though, have to say something nice about everyone. Sometimes they're accurate, other times merely positive, but it's heartwarming to hear someone other than us gush over the usual suspects. When J.R. first arrived in Denver, it made my whole room light up to hear the Nuggets team dizzy themselves over how he could score at will, how the sky was the limit, how a star was being born. If you want to hear hyperbole about young players waiting to arrive, there's really no place better to turn to than the very same men I derided above.
I can't wait to watch the Heat during this Dorrell Wright era.