In Praise of Gossip
By now in the day, this is nothing new: you all know by now that my illustrious colleague Miss Gossip interviewed Greg Oden, and that it was amazing. Here it is, on the off-chance you haven't observed it already.
Now granted, Oden's already proven himself a gabber supreme, and big men are often far more ready and willing interview targets than those sneaky guards and cagey swingmen. But still, on so many levels this is revelation. I always thought that SAS was great at wringing earnest, if occasionally over-cooked, truth out from the souls of players. This, though, is something altogether different: it's someone kicking it with an athlete like they weren't important or special. It's not irreverent or mean, but there's no attempt to place Oden on a pedestal, or act like he's anything other than a smart, friendly kid who happens to have millions in the bank.
It's funny, there's been so much internet whispering and snickering about that Oden photo. But as far as I know, Gossip's the first person to ask him about it, and the response he gives both makes light of it and allows us to see how he (and assistant Chris Paul) might feel about this kind of thing being out there. Too often, we view athletes as sacred cows, who need to get cut down to size. As a fan of the game of basketball, I'd rather see them in this altogether mortal, and far more endearing, light.
It's a truism that with journalism, the "conversation" is superior to the rigid "interview." Maybe in the realm of sports, this kind of interaction is a third way altogether. Talking to Greg Oden shouldn't be like engaging Susan Sontag, but that doesn't mean it has to be stilted or inherently self-defeating.