Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another vote for NBA-ism


In my previous post, I described writers and commentators who don't watch enough NBA basketball to be able to say anything intelligent on the subject "clinging to the ideology that the NBA has become an inferior brand of basketball, an ideology that has reached a widespread enough status that it has its own momentum and (apparently) need not be backed up with any evidence." It looks like Britt Robson agrees with me -- in responding to a writer who wrote of Team USA, "They are playing a brand of ball far more entertaining than most NBA games," he responds:

Yeah, I know, she said "most" NBA games. But it still amounts to "Olympics are better hoops than the NBA," and is part of what has become stupid conventional wisdom among the general public over the past 20 years. It happens to the NBA far more than other team sports. How many times have we all heard--"I don't watch the NBA until--insert either "second half," "fourth quarter," or "final few minutes" here--because that's when they really start trying." That's like me saying I don't watch baseball until the 9th inning because that's when the teams insert their best pitchers, or I don't watch football until the final few minutes because that's when teams really start trying to score with long passes and less time between plays.

I'm not trying to be overly defensive or sensitive about my appreciation for the NBA, but I do feel it's worth pointing out from time to time the bullshit involved when writers complain about games they don't watch. There are often criticisms that come from people who actually watch the games, and these are worth paying attention to, but the whole "I don't watch the NBA anymore because the quality is way down" comment is played out, paradoxical, and somewhat stupid. Coming from a journalist, it's lazy and irresponsible. That's nothing new, though -- it's pretty common to find newspaper stories about scientific discoveries where the writer hasn't taken the time to understand the original research and subsequently misrepresents it (for instance, here or here). Much more dangerously, we saw the American press repeat White House assertions in the runup to the Iraq War rather than independently investigating them. In the scheme of things, then, uninformed complaining about basketball isn't that huge of a deal, but it's probably good practice being critical when reading the sports pages, just to be in the habit.

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