A Rebuttal to a Major Sports Magazine

I gave up on SportsCenter a long time ago; then, I quit ESPN Radio. The latter came a long time later, but I gained a much needed opinion of my own after that—and I’m a better man for it.

I’d rather garner my-own conclusions, my-own information of import than listen to some schlub talk over edited highlights or banter about a game the day after on the radio.

Anyday. Anytime. Watch for yourselves.

And if you can’t: Know to whom you should listen: They don’t work for ESPN, I can promise you that. No matter what the sport.

There’s a point to this, and it would be the content within the latest ESPN the Magazine. As a former subscriber that for some reason continues to get the magazine in question, the normal course of action is to just recycle the bloody thing before it causes my head to hurt; to tell the truth, I hadn’t even opened the last five or six issues, at the very least.

But this one had text on the cover where I had to go against my own mental health and sit down and read and dissect, yet it cannot be all bad, for it gave me something about which to write.

“Kobe Bryant is not as money as we think,” that’s what got me going. Not just that, either—the whole issue is called “The Choke Issue”, and the editors decided to put it in bold at the top left-hand corner of their cover.

So I open the famed ESPN the Magazine and attempt to give it a far shot (for some reason ignoring my instincts and everything I’d learned in the past), and I start reading.

First thing that catches my eye is something from Peter Keating in a section called: The Numbers. Keating writes about free-throw shooting in an article entitled “Free For All”, and the thing gets out of the gate well, talking about how stars like Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard are typically bad from the charity stripe, but when he offers his solutions, the piece does more than stumble; it grinds to a halt.

I could barely finish it after I read the first of his three suggestions, for his bright idea was to re-create game situations to make players better at the line. Right. And to add more of a pounding to my head, Keating then quoted the Journal of Sports Behavior. Please.

Secondly, the writer used a study from two engineering professors from North Carolina State, and because of their findings, he actually suggested “teams need to find some protractors.”

By this time. I’m tearing my hair out: Then I read “…simply shoot underhand” and I have to—for my-own personal safety—move on to something else.

Next in NBA-related articles, about which venting is in order, comes from Chris Broussard, and it goes under the title “The Big Zero.” The whole thing comes down to one man’s observation (after prying himself away from doing awful television and remembering he’s a writer, not a broadcaster) that a team without any superstars appears to be the way to go this year in professional basketball.

It’s long-winded and tough to stomach, yet he almost makes up for the mediocrity by saying that this is only the regular season; the quoting of Mark Jackson helped too.

“‘The good players don’t have that many options’” Broussard quoted Jackson as saying. “‘[T]he great players have other options.’” It’s a good point from the current Warriors’ head coach, but the writer closes with doubt saying “[c]ome playoff time…the question…will be answered.” Indeed.

Now to the matter at hand: Something written by Henry Abbott called “Hero Ball: Or how to fail miserably in NBA crunch time by putting the basketball in the hands of your team’s money player.” Yeah—I almost fell out of my seat too.

First of all, Abbot quotes Sun Tzu (he’s the Art of War guy) four times, and this is his first mistake. If there’s one thing that I can’t stand: It’s when people compare sports to combat; it’s tacky and shallow and such an egregious exaggeration it makes my head spin.

But I’ll give him that, for he’s not the fist nor last—sadly—that’ll do so.

“Hero Ball” goes through the numbers, and they’re nauseating, boring, and frankly inconclusive, if you ask me, but don’t bother reading it; it’s not worth it. Any guy that has the argument that the likes of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant shouldn’t be taking their team’s last shots should be locked up immediately. Or at least laughed out of the room.

Also, on the observation front, both articles heavily feature the Philadelphia 76ers. Apparently, the NBA writers over at ESPN have developed a little bit of a crush. Awe.

There’s no good reason to play this, but it’s the Stones, so good luck arguing against it…

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