There are a lot of reasons for doing this blog.
1. I like writing in general and I especially like writing about music, sports and movies. I like it sufficiently that even though there is currently a paucity of media outlets who will pay me for it (after 27 years of writing on the aforementioned subjects for a variety of leading outlets, I currently make most of my income by running the cheese and charcuterie dept of an upscale retail specialty food market and cafe on the Upper West Side), so it makes me happy to share my thoughts via this medium
2. I also do this because I think it’s a necessary counter to the mindless blather that’s out there.
I was reminded of that this week during some aimless channel surfing when I stumbled into a discussion on ESPN about celebrations after dunks. At issue were comments by L.A. Lakers swingman Matt Barnes that he was weary of the L.A. Clippers boisterous celebrations after dunks in their two presesason wins this week over the Lakers. Skip Bayless rose to Barnes side and complained vociferously about the tendency for players to celebrate good plays without regard to game score. He commented that he was tired of seeing highlights of players celebrating slam dunks in games where their team lost by 15.
Well, yeah, but perhaps a closer examination of context is needed here. What if a team trails all game, rallies then caps off an 11-2 run with a monster dunk which brings them within a point of the lead. Then, the other team calls time out rights the ship, tightens up their defense and goes on to an eight to ten point win. The dunk was still a pivotal moment in the game and a play of likely stellar athleticism. It deserves to be a highlight, the loss by the dunker’s team notwithstanding. And there are parallels in almost every game in almost every sport where an individual play might have great significance in the moment it was made but be meager in the context of the final score.
Of course what Bayless was trying to do was raise the specter of athletes irresponsibly putting their own performances ahead that of the team, and even in this case, it’s a poor example. The Clippers-Lakers preseason games were much more than exhibitions; they were data in what will be an ongoing situation about the changed relationship between the Los Angeles NBA franchises. After decades of mostly ironclad Lakers rule, the fact that this is even an issue is reason for every Clipper player to celebrate each basket with a “how do you like me now?” smile.
Of course, Bayless isn’t there for insight. He’s what I tend to call a controversy whore and given his ubiquity on ESPN, he’s probably very good at it. Controversy makes for good television, and ESPN is a TV network. Insight? Well that’s what ESPN.com’s Insider is there for. We can read John Hollinger and Kevin Pelton and others till the cows come home.
So that’s why I do this. To offer just a little bit of counter to the onslaught of controversy whoring. And if I ever get to do the metaphorical equivalent of dunk in their faces, then I’m going to celebrate loudly. My team will still be trailing, but it will have been a statement, and that moment will have mattered immensely to me.