Friday, May 10, 2013

The Annual Love Letter To Inside The NBA

High Larity
During the off-day of the NBA Playoffs, it's time to get into the annual appre- ciation for the job that TNT does on the NBA playoffs -- specifically the in-studio show, since that part has nothing to do with Reggie Miller. And yes, I shouldn't repeat myself every year, and praising these guys is right up there with saying water is wet and breathing is good, but still, this show is borderline magic, stays good every year, and no one else seems to able to duplicate what appears to be a very simple recipe.

What ITN manages to do, that no other show of its ilk does -- regardless of which sport is covered -- is flawlessly change gears and never make you mind. They also actually manage to hire ex-players who don't become tiresome, though I'm sure this is probably more true for me than most; I can't get enough Charles Barkley in my life. When they want to get into film study and actual nuts and bolts diagrams and tactics, Kenny Smith does a very solid job. When it comes to calling a dog a dog and a player to be inadequate, they don't mince words or shy away from contact (especially Chuck, who is the stir that stirs the drink, and makes Shaquille O'Neal's mumbling clown act tolerable). They gleefully abuse Ernie Johnson when he has to fulfill the contractual obligation of narrating game highlights as if the outcome were in doubt. And then they clown with absolute joy in their hearts, with each other and with their crew, and nothing seems in any way forced or anything but genuine.

They are not perfect, of course. Each guy tends to stay on his views to the point of dogma (Charles Hates Jumpers!), then runs away from it as soon as game action overwhelms it (Charles loves Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry). O'Neal is better than he used to be on this, but he's still the clear weak link, and they'd be better off with Chris Webber or a bunch of other guys. It also doesn't help that Shaq seems to be ready to do any ridiculous thing at any moment; the man's cringe-worthy far too often. But still, it works more often than it doesn't, and it never goes on too long to make me want to get away from the show. I give them much more leeway than any other show like this, in that I give them, well, any. (And it's not going to last forever, of course, because Chuck is over 50 and is going to eventually succumb to cranky old man disease, or the show will wind up losing someone else to money or a better job.)

Add it all up, and every year around this time, I spend 2-3 months. 4 or 5 times a week, staying up into the stupid hours of the morning... and no, I'm never doing that for the ESPN or ABC or NBA TV shows. I find myself not knowing what they are going to say, caring what they are going to do, loving the running gags and the trash talk, and being very, very happy for them when they clean other shows' clocks at the Sports Emmys...

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule