Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Undercover Bosses
May 31, 2012 10:22 AM   Subscribe

The Heat could've been so beautiful. Instead, they're a team for their time.
posted by Cloud King (74 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Go Spurs.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:24 AM on May 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


I got about halfway. I'm actively rooting for the Heat this year. I hope Lebron shuts everyone up, and I don't even like Lebron at all.

The problem with all this, with the Heat and in general, is that the fundamental vanity of it functions as a hulking, ridiculous Swarovski-showroom glass jaw. Stars are stars, and easy to photograph and put on the cover of a magazine, but systems win and endure.

I was very glad this wasn't a Grantland link, so I tried ... but I'm out. Sportswriting, blech.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:30 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


This article is ridiculous. Shit like this:

But never, in any of these scenarios, do the Heat seem to be having much fun, or transcending anything in particular.

is demonstrably false.
posted by saladin at 10:34 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


is demonstrably false.

Meh. How something "seems" is pretty subjective. I mean, I agree with you on the general point, but how someone says something "seems" to them cannot, by definition, be "demonstrably false."
posted by The World Famous at 10:38 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you're going to spend that much time describing what the Heat promised to be and what they aren't, it would be far more compelling to spend equal time with the Spurs, who offered no such promises but have become everything the writer wishes the Heat were.
posted by tallthinone at 10:42 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


23% of all SportCenter programming last week was devoted to the Miami Heat. Spurs got 4 minutes of coverage during that time, and the English Premier League championship got no coverage at all.

They are easy to hate when ESPN shovels them ad naseum at us.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:44 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Haters gonna hate.
posted by Blue Meanie at 10:45 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Haters gonna hate.

Spurs gonna spur.
posted by The World Famous at 10:46 AM on May 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


Oh, the Allegorical Fallacy of Sportswriting. Once in a great while a piece like this actually makes the case that the game corresponds with its social context in an interesting way — but far more often, as here, it seems like a writer's crutch, allowing him to emptily assert the Pivotal Cultural Importance of his subject without actually earning it. Even worse when it's just a retread piece leaning on the oldest cliches of the free-agent era, Money Can't Buy Teamwork and Rooting for Rich Star Players Is Just Like Hero-Worshiping CEOs and so on. (You know who's a lot more like a CEO on a sports team? The CEO.)

Good sportswriting starts with actually writing about sports!
posted by RogerB at 10:48 AM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I really hope the Thunder manage to turn things around against San Antonio, because between the Spurs and the Heat I root for baseball.

Although yeah, the amount of hype the Spurs aren't getting is pretty sad.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:48 AM on May 31, 2012


Boston took them to OT, and half of the Celtics were using walkers and habitually order the "Early Bird Special" Liver and Onions Plate. I wouldn't even put the Heat at a lock to reach the finals if those geezers get a second win playing at home.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:51 AM on May 31, 2012


(second wind, rather.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:51 AM on May 31, 2012


Yeah, but Boston went to seven games against my Sixers, who are about as good at playing basketball as the Celtics are at reading without bifocals.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:55 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


oddly pompous bumpkinry
posted by obscurator at 10:55 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, the Spurs just keep. on. winning.
posted by nushustu at 11:05 AM on May 31, 2012


(second wind, rather.)

Same difference
posted by teekat at 11:06 AM on May 31, 2012


I like watching basketball. And, I like reading about it. No one ever sees the same game and that's part of the point. I get why The Heat bother people. There was so much crassness and self-congratulations when the team came together that it would make a boiler room full of penny stock salesmen blush. However, they can be an amazing team to watch. I don't get a sense of that from this article. It doesn't often work for them, really work, but when it does The Heat have produced some of the most amazing plays I've seen in the past two decades. It's actually pretty tough to see and describe the stuff that happens on the court. Once you go beyond that into some sort of semiotics of team chemistry and makeup, well, that's not really a very solid ground on which to stand. I mean, I don't particularly have good feelings for LeBron and Wade, but I'll still watch them throughout the playoffs.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 11:10 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just don't let the Thunder win...

GO SONICS!
posted by Windopaene at 11:10 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


GO THUNDER!
posted by Navelgazer at 11:11 AM on May 31, 2012


They are easy to hate when ESPN shovels them ad naseum at us.

Not if you cancel cable/satellite TV. /smugsuperiority

between the Spurs and the Heat I root for baseball

I couldn't have said it better myself. God, I hate the Spurs. Go Thunder.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:11 AM on May 31, 2012


This isn't about coaching or personnel—or only about one or the other, or either or both—so much as it is an affirmation that the game works best when played modestly and positively within a moderated, mediated framework.

This is a nice expression of Roth's desperate wish for how things ought to be, but it's a woeful misreading of recent basketball history. Take a look at the list of NBA champions. Do you see modest teams composed of no-name players who are happy to toil in relative obscurity? In the last thirty years I'd say that the 2005 Heat, 2003 Pistons, 1982 76ers, and post-David Robinson Spurs qualify. Possible the 2010 Mavs. But the list is dominated by star-laden, showy, hyper-confident 'CEO' teams: the Showtime-era and Bryant-era Lakers, Jordan's Bulls, the Twin Towers-era Spurs, the Three Amigos and Bird-era Celtics, the Bad Boy Pistons. These were teams featuring each era's superstars - usually more than one - who swaggered all over the court. Red Auerbach and Michael Jordan were ostentatiously lighting up victory cigars long before we had Lebron James to kick around.

Much as Roth might wish that it were a blue-collar, lunchbox sport, basketball has for some time been all about the CEOs. Sorry.
posted by googly at 11:11 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


also, ad nauseam. /smugpedantry
posted by mrgrimm at 11:12 AM on May 31, 2012


Oh, the Allegorical Fallacy of Sportswriting. Once in a great while a piece like this actually makes the case that the game corresponds with its social context in an interesting way
What is it about sports-writing that makes it all so terrible? There seems to be a culture of turning out and perhaps even celebrating the most turgid prose imaginable.
posted by delmoi at 11:13 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not much of a basketball fan, but after reading the article I'm not really clear on what LeBron and Dwayne Wade actually did to bring about this "rich people complaining" criticism. I also feel kind of out of touch because I had never even realized LeBron was being discussed as the greatest basketball talent of "any generation." Maybe I should be paying more attention!

The way they talk about the Heat though makes it sound a lot like what the Washington Capitals are going through in hickey.
posted by Hoopo at 11:13 AM on May 31, 2012


RogerB: "Oh, the Allegorical Fallacy of Sportswriting"

Yep. Though I do enjoy articles like this -- and this one is particular -- they need to have their place. It's when the narrative completely takes over (see: much of sports talk radio, much of ESPN, all of NBC's Olympic coverage) that it really gets annoying. To me, at least. Obviously, there's a huge audience for it (see: previous examples)

(Let me take this opportunity to plug Slate's "Hang up and Listen" weekly sports podcast for an antidote to that -- as they are usually my go-to example for what's right in sports talk... though even they admit to falling into the narrative fallacy sometimes.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:16 AM on May 31, 2012


modest teams composed of no-name players who are happy to toil in relative obscurity... 2005 Heat...

Like Shaq?
posted by Blue Meanie at 11:17 AM on May 31, 2012


"Boston took them to OT, and half of the Celtics were using walkers and habitually order the "Early Bird Special" Liver and Onions Plate. I wouldn't even put the Heat at a lock to reach the finals "

That's one way to look at it. You could also point out that Rondo had the best game of his career, Allen looked like he isn't functionally crippled, the Celtics succeeded in their mission to keep Miami from making many easy lay-ups, Wade had just about the worst half-game of his career, the Heat missed a ton of free-throws, and Lebron missed two game winners. In short, an awful lot went right for the C's and wrong for the Heat.

And the Celtics still lost.

Also, that article was muddled and the topics just felt shoe-horned together.
posted by oddman at 11:18 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


With no axe to grind, and as a casual fan of the NBA, I do wonder what the advantages are of having two star athletes when it comes to officiating. It's nothing new in the sport, after all there were the "Jordan rules" for many years.

But especially after a game last night (which some are calling the worst case of officiating ever seen) you do have to wonder how it factors in and where it's coming from.

From last night: I don't think there's a conspiracy from above, but I wonder how star-struck these refs are. Dwayne Wade and LeBron James each had 2 fouls for the entire game + overtime. I do also wonder though if it is the other way around, if the athletic play gives them the edge. In any case, the perceived benefit the Heat get does not make them any easier to like.
posted by jeremias at 11:26 AM on May 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Spurs article is better:

There's a reason that Bridezillas is a show and there's nothing called Reasonably Well-Planned Wedding Enjoyed by All.
posted by swift at 11:27 AM on May 31, 2012


Charles Pierce on the Heat at Grantland. A bit more to the point, I think, and more than a bit more enjoyable.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:32 AM on May 31, 2012


Bill Simmons (who can be awesome when he avoids acting like a frat boy) on Spurs-Thunder Game 2.
posted by lukemeister at 11:32 AM on May 31, 2012


modest teams composed of no-name players who are happy to toil in relative obscurity... 2005 Heat...

Like Shaq?


And Gary Payton! Forgot about that.
posted by googly at 11:33 AM on May 31, 2012


Although yeah, the amount of hype the Spurs aren't getting is pretty sad.

Yeah, I'm definitely turning on ESPN to see Boring Old Guys Part 2: The Revenge of Boring Old Guys. If the Spurs win a championship this year, I'd be perfectly happy for ESPN to announce it at the bottom of the screen and never again.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:36 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe I read a different article or maybe it's because I am a Celtics fan, but I thought this was a terrific article. It is everything I cannot stand about The Heat. I was thinking today about how DOnald Trump drives me nuts: it's that he only ever talks to tell you how much better he is than everyone and how it's obvious because he's wealthy, but once you get to be about 23 you realize no one talks like that unless they have zero belief in themselves. That's James to me; he has an amazing game. Even the Celtics' All-Stars modify their game near the hoop because James can appear out of nowhere to block the ball from behind. And that's a little component, like 1.4% of his game.

All that talent, all that hard work and all that engineering to get things exactly how he wanted them and it's like it's never going to work out. I really don't see them beating either team out West (they might take OKC to 7 games). No idea what the basketball landscape will look like in a year or two, but James is bordering on Greek Tragic Hero status already.

What is it about sports-writing that makes it all so terrible?

What is it about all your comments that make them so terrible? Five seconds of searching would have disproved your thesis. Ask Updike, Angell or Steven J. Gould. Here's a primer. I'm sure you'll read all of that before commenting. Oh no, wait: you'll never come back to read this just like you didn't read the article before dropping that turd in the punchbowl.
posted by yerfatma at 11:38 AM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, the Allegorical Fallacy of Sportswriting

I can't get behind this either. Why do we watch sports except as allegory, as the meritocracy we think we'd succeed in if only things had broken in our favor? To write about sports without allegory is to compile a box score or a game story. It's like writing poetry by transcribing the dictionary.
posted by yerfatma at 11:41 AM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


but how someone says something "seems" to them cannot, by definition, be "demonstrably false."

Fair enough, so perhaps a better way of putting that would be to say that anyone who says that the Heat never "seem to be having much fun, or transcending anything in particular" has either not seen any Heat games during the 2011-12 season, has no understanding of fun or basketball, or, as others have pointed out, is desperately trying to shoehorn an uncooperative set of facts in to a bullshit allegory and, finding it difficult, has resorted to outright fabrication to bolster their inane point.
posted by saladin at 11:42 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're 10-0 in the playoffs, though. 10-0! Undefeated since the Nixon administration! (Okay, possibly exaggerating a little) They might not fill up the highlight reel, but they're not showing Heat highlights for that entire time. There isn't enough game tape.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:43 AM on May 31, 2012


The more I think about it, I love the current state of the NBA finals because with both series I have a clear rooting interest based on a combination of reasonable and preposterous factors (and I think one of the big draws of sports fandom is that you can indulge in totally fucking ridiculous preferences without it affecting anything in your life).

In the west, I like the Thunder because they're from the same city as the Flaming Lips (who I guess even recorded a fight song for the Thunder, although I haven't heard it yet); at the same time, I fucking hate the Spurs because back when my Timberwolves were decent, the Spurs were always one of the walls they'd run into and splatter. In the east, I like the Celtics because of enduring Kevin Garnett fandom and hate the Heat because they're so fucking hateable.
posted by COBRA! at 11:55 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


And the Celtics still lost.

They call the foul on Wade for whacking Rondo in the face, though, and it could have been different.
posted by Curious Artificer at 12:01 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why do we watch sports except as allegory, as the meritocracy we think we'd succeed in if only things had broken in our favor? To write about sports without allegory is to compile a box score or a game story.

But why would we watch sports at all if we were only interested in making it into an allegory about something else, rather than the beauty and weirdness of what actually happens in the games, on the court and on the field? It's perfectly easy to write about the cultural politics of wealth in America without writing about LeBron James at all; what makes James interesting is that he is amazingly good at basketball — not that you'd really learn anything much about that from the Roth article. Take a look at a really good piece of sportswriting, and you'll find it's almost all description; it's only the hacks who go straight for the bombast and pontificate about cultural meaning, making everything that happens on-court into a story about something else. Since you mentioned Roger Angell, let's take one of his as a case in point, say for instance this perfectly ordinary midseason update:

Even in the midst of his troubles, Ordóñez continued to pull off dazzlingly difficult plays, including his patented stretching dive to the right, when he reaches across his body to backhand a scorching drive and at the same time drops to his right knee or extends the leg full-length, like a dancer flying into a split. This brings him to a skidding halt, with his body rising and turning in the same motion for the throw across the diamond; the left leg has trailed a fraction, opening his upper body enough to allow some steam on the peg. Nothing in modern baseball is prettier than this. It was the easier stuff that was giving him fits, that extra beat of time which told him and the rest of us how hard the work is after all.

Notice what Angell's not writing about here? There's no attempt at all to inject Deep Meaning into Rey Ordoñez's fielding mishaps, to make them an allegory about something else.
posted by RogerB at 12:01 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can I say, that Miami is absolutely the perfect city for the Heat? Miamians, just love to be hated. We do. We like it when everyone else just wants to punch us in the face. Also, we love being about as loud and garish as we can be (have you seen the Heat throw-backs? Pink and Orange!).
posted by oddman at 12:07 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"And the Celtics still lost.

They call the foul on Wade for whacking Rondo in the face, though, and it could have been different.
"

Sure, but, again, the Celtics basically had the best game they could possibly expect to have (do you think Rondo is going to shoot like that again?) while the Heat were having a bad game, and the C's still couldn't put the them away. That's damning in itself. The Heat's margin for error is huge in this series (in Game 1 the Heat played well, but certainly not great, and won it going away).
posted by oddman at 12:12 PM on May 31, 2012


The writing was pretty ponderous in this article, to the point where I actually took nothing whatsoever away from it; this one almost seemed to cross the line from sports-writing into just writing. Lastly, don't mistake this as if I was just cruising the main article for aphorisms, but the link from the first comment had this gem:

"There’s a reason that Bridezillas is a show and there’s nothing called Reasonably Well-Planned Wedding Enjoyed by All."
posted by resurrexit at 12:14 PM on May 31, 2012


Dwayne Wade and LeBron James each had 2 fouls for the entire game + overtime. I do also wonder though if it is the other way around, if the athletic play gives them the edge.

LeBron James is an incredible athlete even for an NBA player and has long had a very low foul rate on defense and drawn lots of fouls on offense because of his timing and body control relative to his opponents. I am a Cleveland fan and I hate him but he pretty much always gets to the line a lot and never gets in foul trouble.

But the Eastern Conference finals is the junior varsity. These Spurs don't get taken to overtime at home by one-legged Pierce, old man KG, limping Allen, and worn out Rondo.
posted by Kwine at 12:18 PM on May 31, 2012


Take a look at a really good piece of sportswriting, and you'll find it's almost all description; it's only the hacks who go straight for the bombast and pontificate about cultural meaning, making everything that happens on-court into a story about something else

I think we're probably arguing for the same thing in different words and I'm not endorsing the idea of sports always being about something else. I watch to see what happens, to see something amazing. But if you're going to write about a sporting event more than a few days later or to write about a player/ team/ season, I'd hope there's some broader point there. As for your hacks spewing metaphors and culture . . .
The affair between Boston and Ted Williams has been no mere summer romance; it has been a marriage, composed of spats, mutual disappointments, and, toward the end, a mellowing hoard of shared memories. It falls into three stages, which may be termed Youth, Maturity, and Age; or Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis; or Jason, Achilles, and Nestor.
Kneel before my Appeal to Authority! Take it to the hole, Jerome!
posted by yerfatma at 12:23 PM on May 31, 2012


If the article is muddled and confusing (which it is), I think it's because the Heat themselves are muddled and confusing. They're like a weird funhouse mirror that reflect only what the viewer thinks are the worst things about sports in the 00s, all for the crime of merely being extremely good instead of utterly dominant. It's not just the Sports as Allegory people who have a field day with them. If anything, the Sports as Pop Psychology people have spilled even more ink on the millions of reasons why LeBron isn't a Winner.

In some ways, the best case scenario for them at this point is for them to win a few titles and slowly fade into a mist of vague wistfulness for what could have been. The worst case scenario is that they win nothing and the glimmer of control over their destinies that was briefly held by the players gets sucked back up by management, leading to another two decades of articles about, for example, the impact of trading for expiring contracts on the Milwaukee Bucks' salary cap situation over the next 4 years.
posted by Copronymus at 12:26 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


what makes James interesting is that he is amazingly good at basketball

Over the decades a good number of players have been amazingly good at basketball. James has got to be put in the top five of all time now, I'd say, but that's not all of what makes him so interesting. What makes him so interesting is that he's amazingly good and amazingly detested at the same time. He's a bizarre force of personality and that's fascinating as well. You can enjoy sports without the narrative, sure, but you can't be a fan without one, because being a fan is nonsensical. Irrational. You need to invent a narrative to follow to keep your fandom from just being a weird fetish for specific logos.

Also, that Spurs article is full of shit. People are hypocrites for not rallying around the Spurs? Just goes to show that people only really want drama? Uh, no. look at the comparative popularity of the Thunder. Where's their drama?

Only a person who wasn't watching could call the Spurs' play "boring." They are playing beautifully, inventively, on another level. But people like stars. Kevin Durant is the shining white night of the NBA, a good guy America loves to cheer for. Russell Westbrook is (unfairly, IMHO) the "bad boy," who can be blamed whenever anything goes wrong, but who still puts up points comparable to Durant's most nights. And Harden is the hipster wildman who can grab impossible fast-breaks and change the momentum of the game in a heartbeat. They feel like the heroic underdog counters to James, Wade and Bosh. People get behind the personalities.

The Spurs, on the other hand, have Tim Duncan, who's old but still reliable, likable, but not really selling sneakers anymore. Tony Parker, who's a threat at all times but also something of a charisma vacuum, and Splitter and Ginobli, with the two most punchable faces in the league. They are, without a doubt, the best team out there right now. Maybe the best team we've seen in years. But aside from Tim Duncan, they're hard to get behind personally, or at least harder than some other teams are.

Might not be fair and might not be rational, but sports fandom is neither fair nor rational.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:36 PM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Navelgazer: "Uh, no. look at the comparative popularity of the Thunder. Where's their drama? "

Trapped in Harden's beard. He is such a badass, even his facial hair plays good defense.
posted by Dr. Zira at 12:53 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Only a person who wasn't watching could call the Spurs' play "boring."

So much this. What the Spurs are doing this year is just special. The Heat have approximately zero chance against them.

Here's a good video breaking down their offense.
posted by callmejay at 1:02 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can I say, that Miami is absolutely the perfect city for the Heat? Miamians, just love to be hated. We do. We like it when everyone else just wants to punch us in the face. Also, we love being about as loud and garish as we can be

I'm happy to oblige you, then.
posted by Edison Carter at 1:02 PM on May 31, 2012


There is no sports writing out there that I enjoy as much as a good sports thread on Metafilter.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:05 PM on May 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


and I think one of the big draws of sports fandom is that you can indulge in totally fucking ridiculous preferences without it affecting anything in your life

This is exactly why I really love sports.
posted by sc114 at 2:04 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


(have you seen the Heat throw-backs? Pink and Orange!).

I have no opinion one way or the other about the City of Miami or the Heat, but those are actually awesome jerseys and I would totally wear one.
posted by Hoopo at 2:05 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm definitely turning on ESPN to see Boring Old Guys Part 2: The Revenge of Boring Old Guys.

It's funny how pervasive the false notion is that because the Spurs have a low-key superstar whose calling card is consistency over splash, that the entire team must be full of geezers who shoot underhanded free throws. The Spurs were simply the best offensive team in the league this year (1st in FG% and 3PT FG%, 2nd in PPG), whereas in the past their calling card was their defense and deliberate pace. If you think watching Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is boring, I can't really write anything that will make watching them compelling.

Plus, the Spurs have a ton of cool storylines surrounding their role players. Look at Danny Green, who could not even crack the rotation on a pathetically thin 2010 Cavaliers' team, now is the starting SF for the Spurs. In fact, the Spurs traded away their previous starting SF for Stephen Jackson, who most people know for his foray into the stands with Ron Artest, but whom Tim Duncan himself calls the "ultimate teammate". Throw in a couple unlikely success stories (Gary Neal, DeJuan Blair), an overlooked foreign center (Tiago Splitter), and a quality all-around rookie in Kawhi Leonard, and I think this is the most fun and watchable Spurs team to contend for a title since the dawning of the Timmy Age.
posted by antonymous at 2:23 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's just take a moment to once again appreciate the resplendent majesty of Chris Bosh.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:29 PM on May 31, 2012


I am torn as I don't care for the big three hoopla, love Shane Battier and Juwan Howard, really like Duncan and Parker and cannot stand Ginobli. I'm just going to root for some good basketball games with a very slight preference for the Spurs, who have star players I actually like.

(When I say I like them I mean I approve of their image in the media I consume as I haven't ever met any of them.)
posted by bukvich at 2:29 PM on May 31, 2012


He's got to be kidding. Never seen such a lame metaphor reach in sportwriting, which is saying a lot. I love how his example of socialist teamwork is Oklahoma City, a team that was stolen from its Seattle home by a zillionaire who held up the city for public money and when he didn't get it robbed the community of a team with deep roots in Seattle.

If you think the Heat aren't fun, you just haven't been watching. James/Wade against Indiana was pure, deep, beautiful basketball. If James sometimes seems stressed out there it may be because there is a whole nation of idiot sportswriters loading metaphorical/symbolic baggage on everything he does.

Agreed that the Spurs seem to be playing on a whole other level though. They are a joy to watch as well. Definitely looking forward to these finals. As a basketball fan you have to be happy right now.
posted by zipadee at 2:46 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


People don't watch basketball games in their entirety anymore. People watch SportsCenter. SportsCenter carries highlights. People watch lots and lots of highlights of games.

What plays constitute highlights? Dunks, mostly. So the teams that dunk the most are going to have the best and the most highlights. The Spurs are last in the league in dunks. What other plays become highlights? Yelling and making faces are often highlights. I would venture to guess that the Spurs are pretty low on the making faces and yelling highlights, too.

Consequently, the Spurs have possibly the fewest highlights in the league. This leads people who base their opinion of games, teams, and players from highlights to conclude that the Spurs must be a boring team. I suspect that people who watch full games are much more likely to find the Spurs to be an exciting, entertaining team.
posted by flarbuse at 3:01 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the west, I like the Thunder because they're from the same city as the Flaming Lips

and Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hendrix, ...
posted by kurumi at 3:22 PM on May 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I never said the Spurs play boring basketball, I said they were boring. They're a boring team from a narrative standpoint, which is a huge part of the reason why people watch sports. Watching some guys who've been around forever, on the same team forever, trying to win their fourth (or fifth) championship at the end of careers is just not particularly interesting to me. Especially not when you've got a young team in a new city and the whole Miami mess to care about. My basic litmus test is, if you're not my team and you've won recently watching you win is boring. Boston is also boring for the same reason.

I've also hated Tim Duncan since he was in college, but that has more to do with him playing against my team two or three times a year than anything else.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:55 PM on May 31, 2012


Charles Pierce on the Heat at Grantland. A bit more to the point, I think, and more than a bit more enjoyable.

Nah, that was crap too.

What plays constitute highlights? Dunks, mostly. So the teams that dunk the most are going to have the best and the most highlights. The Spurs are last in the league in dunks. What other plays become highlights? Yelling and making faces are often highlights. I would venture to guess that the Spurs are pretty low on the making faces and yelling highlights, too.

As mentioned, I don't have cable anymore, but it doesn't sound like you do either.

First off, most of the highlights aren't dunks. Check out the LeBron James videos on ESPN.com. There are more 3-pointers and layups/tip-ins and passes in the first video than dunks (2 in 3 minutes of highlights). The second video is a quick highlight of James' (monstrous) block on Paul Pierce. The third video is a missed dunk.

There were no highlights of making faces.

It's also worth noting that the vast majority of ESPN's news coverage is *not* highlights, it's (boring) talk (reporting and commentary). So if they are focusing 23% of their SC coverage on Heat, it's not highlights, and it's not because they dunk and yell. That's very naive (and a bit insulting). It's b/c they have LeBron James, and like Jordan, people like to give special attention to the best. If Kobe were still around, he'd be getting the same coverage.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:05 PM on May 31, 2012


[The Spurs are] a boring team from a narrative standpoint

Yes. The aging gunslingers going for one last ride up and showing all those youngsters up would never work as a story. Neither would the idea of playing proper basketball in a league that has been mired in Iso plays for a decade. And a team where their first ballot Hall of Famer sat out a game with "DNP: Old" is definitely a snooze.
posted by yerfatma at 5:03 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


lukemeister: "Bill Simmons (who can be awesome when he avoids acting like a frat boy) on Spurs-Thunder Game 2."

From the article:
"3:52 — James Harden just came in, which reminds me … more than once this season, including this game, I've gotten my 4-year-old son to watch Oklahoma City for extended stretches by convincing him that Harden was a werewolf. You do whatever it takes to get your kids to like sports. You just do."

LOVE.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:14 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


James has got to be put in the top five of all time now

Top five what?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 5:34 PM on May 31, 2012


When I was young I was sure Elvis Costello was singing "Werewolves of Thunder". Maybe I had a precognition of James Harden.
posted by bukvich at 6:38 PM on May 31, 2012


Well, at least we can't blame Warren Zevon.
posted by yerfatma at 6:57 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


BTW, tonight the Thunder played like the Spurs were playing for the past month and a half. This should continue to be an amazing series.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:10 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a rule I always root firmly against Texas, Florida and East Coast/New England teams (also Michigan and Illinois teams). My mom lives outside OKC and I think the place is a shit hole and I think Seattle should still have the Sonics.
posted by rainperimeter at 12:35 AM on June 1, 2012


Bulgarpktonos: I never said the Spurs play boring basketball, I said they were boring. They're a boring team from a narrative standpoint, which is a huge part of the reason why people watch sports.

It's funny, I was just thinking the same thing today, because the team I like is full of ridiculous drama (the Knicks, natch) but also has the most fascinating narratives. Not only Jeremy Lin, of course, but guys like Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire are really interesting when you dig down, and I totally heart Landry Fields. I just don't find much that draws me into the Spurs. Do I hope they win the championship? Sure, they seem like they deserve it. Do I care? Not really.

Incidentally, Sports Illustrated recently had a great piece on Tim Duncan.
posted by Georgina at 5:29 AM on June 1, 2012


As a rule I always root firmly against Texas, Florida and East Coast/New England teams (also Michigan and Illinois teams). My mom lives outside OKC and I think the place is a shit hole and I think Seattle should still have the Sonics.

So your favorites are all what? California and Arizona teams?
posted by Edison Carter at 6:26 AM on June 1, 2012


rainperimeter: "My mom lives outside OKC and I think the place is a shit hole"

Sir Charles seems to approve of our fair city.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:35 PM on June 2, 2012


WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

WORLD CHAMPIONS!

HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES!?
posted by oddman at 5:07 PM on June 22, 2012


Anybody got an orange?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:44 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Miami's got oranges to spare and a championship.
posted by oddman at 7:10 PM on June 23, 2012


« Older Model Behavior: A Laurie Penny essay on gender pre...  |  First Circuit Court of Appeals... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments