Why are the NBA Finals about Dirk and LeBron?
A Guest Blog By Geoff Nelowet
ESPN bears a fairly large responsibility as the dominant outlet for sports news and opinion. They have the clout to shape the public’s perception of teams, players, coaches, owners and so on. For the most part, I think they do a good job.
But when it comes to the NBA, and most other major sports to a lesser degree, the media has turned a league of 30 teams, 400-some players, a slew of coaches, scouts and managers into a game of a few high profile individuals. Not only are they a small, elite group, but they are commodities. They’re branded, marketed and sold – and they’re all we ever hear about.
Let me get to the point. If I’m Jason Kidd right now, I’m saying:
What the heck? I’ve been to the finals twice. I’m a nine-time All-Star. I nearly won an MVP trophy. I did win a gold medal at the Olympics. I’ve been in the NBA four years longer than Dirk has, and I’ve played more playoff games than anyone still playing. Why is every story about Dirk and LeBron? Why not me? Why not Tyson Chandler? Why not all of us?
I get it. People want to hear about the stars more than they do the role players. Fine, that makes sense, but at what point are we taking this too far? Since the finals have started, the stories about Dirk Nowitzki’s injured finger greatly outnumber any stories about Jason Kidd, or Tyson Chandler, or even Jason Terry and his tattoo. Moreover, the result is that the overall analysis of the two teams and how they match up is greatly lacking. Personally, I’m much more interested in hearing about Miami’s game plan and how they intend on minimizing Dirk’s presence or how Dallas intends on exploiting Miami’s deficiencies at the center position than I am about hearing who needs a ring more between the two superstars (because apparently Dwyane Wade doesn’t matter and could care less about rings because he already has one).
What’s most ironic about the narrow focus on Nowitzki and James is that they don’t even guard each other. Their head-to-head match-ups hold very little bearing on the finals, as they different positions in different spots on the court. When I log onto ESPN.com, I want to gain insight on the game dynamic and what’s actuallygoing on that I may have missed while watching. Profile pieces and anecdotal stories about LeBron and Dirk simply get old, and they don’t inform the viewers on what’s important – the NBA Finals.