April 3, 2020

No Talking Heads, Just Talking Hoops

The Massive Problem with the NBA

National Broadcasting is Hurting the NBA

As has been well documented over past months, the NBA’s TV ratings has dropped significantly over the past few seasons. There have been a lot of musings as to why this has occured/is occurring, but to put it bluntly, I squarely rest much of the blame on the current state of the way the league is broadcast.

Regardless of how you or I feel about player empowerment, player movement, increasing volume of three’s, the evolution of perimeter offense, and many other highly contested topics, you can rest assured that Chris Webber will tell you 17 times during the Rockets TNT game that their way of playing is flawed and they can’t win without a center.

I DO NOT CARE about your personal opinion of the Rockets, that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

The problem is the way in which the broadcast team talks about them and other teams (although I feel the Rockets are such a prime example). I’d be remiss to single out Webber; Jeff Van Gundy, Stan Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson are all capable of dishing out equally pessimistic takes.

Daryl Morey was recently quoted on First Take; “Right now, if you tune into a lot of NBA telecasts, the announcers are hate-watching their own game. It’s crazy.”

The Rockets front man is routinely outspoken, sometimes at to the detriment of his team (China,China, and China), but he’s fucking right!

I am a massive NBA fan. I dedicate hundreds of hours a month to watching, writing, talking, and doing all things basketball related. Yet, I find myself struggling to not hit the mute button when watching National TV games.

Regardless of my personal feelings of a team or the way they play, to hear broadcasters rip into them and nit pick every little thing they do, even the good things, is just an annoyance.

Think of it out of basketball terms.

Have you ever had a friend who’s always negative? It’s 65 and sunny, mid-March in Ohio (a rarity), but they bitch about having to wear a sweatshirt.

You bring a girl flowers, and she laments that you bought her tulips instead of roses.

A coworker constantly complains about the stupidity of upper management, but drags his ass at work all day.

This is the current state of NBA broadcasting!

Are there issues within the game? Of course. But, the continued degradation and belittling of the league and it’s players by the voices that are many people’s only audition of the NBA, is not only an embarrassment, but a hindrance to the state of basketball.

The broadcasters I’ve mentioned, as well as others I haven’t, are some of the most prominent ambassadors of the game. The majority of them are incredible basketball minds who can eloquently deconstruct plays and schemes in seconds. I grew up listening to the Van Gundy’s and Jackson and I learned so much from them. I love their knowledge and many of the takes they present.

But, if they’re not doing it with enthusiasm and excitement, why the fuck are they the one’s presenting the game? I’m an established viewer and nothing could drive me from the NBA except a tombstone. But, it sets me on edge, and I can only imagine the impact this has on casual or new viewers. If it’s their only real connection to the league, then those opinions are likely what they’ll take away from the game.

There’s a difference between critique and outright shitting on the game. Criticism is what helps the league change in a positive light, but there needs to be a balance, because right now, it’s off the rails.

Let me know what you think down below. I’d love some feedback/to hear what you think the problem(s) might be and whether or not you agree.

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