It’s time to address something. I’m sure everyone is tired of seeing the same tired ass basketball debates every single day. Same silly, recycled talking points on TV, on social media, every day the same thing. While everyone plays their part in perpetuating the cycle, the people responsible for this nonsense are rarely held accountable. That changes now.
The lack of progress from the media and NBA marketing team that’s been evident for the last damn near 40 years is shameful. And what’s more shameful is the fanbase has allowed them to get away with it. We have not demanded any innovation or ingenuity on their part. Look at who is promoted and how. It’s a shame that the best crop of young talent the league has seen in a very long time is being wasted to push some “aging King who can still do it” narrative that’s hurting everyone involved………….including the person it’s meant to uplift. It’s time to pivot from this age old, “There can be only one”, story they’ve been trying to push.
First of all, let’s get something straight right now. That marketing strategy only worked with one player and we all know why. If you’re going to promote someone as the exalted ruler of the league, there has to be an aura of invincibility present. That person has to prove they have no equal. Michael Jordan provided that. Going undefeated in the Finals and displaying a level of individual dominance that hasn’t been seen before or since allowed the NBA to create a “David Ruffin and the Temptations” dynamic between him and the other 449 players in the league. MJ changed the complexity of how NBA players and success was viewed. Before him, everything was team oriented. Every star player had a contemporary of equal value. But MJ’s ascension required an alternative approach. He was something different, head and shoulders above the rest. In Greek mythology, Zeus is held in higher regard than the other gods of Olympus. The same level of distinction was necessary to properly illustrate the level of greatness Mike reached.
Now because the league was able to make basketball a global phenomenon on the shoulders of the greatest player the sport has ever seen mixed with a careful and strategically executed vision from David Stern, these simple, narrow minded, lazy idiots have been using the same playbook since 1984. Every time a new star has emerged since then, I can see them in their meetings now. “I know! Let’s do the Michael Jordan thing again.” Only one problem with that ya dummies! Those dudes ain’t Mike. Here’s a novel idea—how about you actually use your brain to craft a campaign that fits the current climate of the league. If it was me, I would try everything I could to change course. They’re going to find Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster having brunch with the Abominable Snowman before they find another Michael Jordan. (SN: Beasts Who Brunch sounds like a dope concept for a web series. ‘Hey Google’, get the YouTube folks on that ASAP. I want no credit or involvement. Just a handsome fee.) But, uh, back to the lecture at hand. Continuing to try to recreate the Jordan vibe is as foolish as it is unfair to the current players. Think about how the “Next Jordan” trope has negatively affected guys. Kobe wasn’t widely beloved until the twilight of his career. Look at what’s happening right now with LeBron. With all that he’s accomplished, we were never allowed to experience his career without the constant unreasonable comparisons.
Now look at the landscape of the NBA right now. We have a bevy of young guys that are playing their asses off whose accomplishments are being neglected in favor of daily headlines of “Year 19”. Ice Trae, Anthony Edwards, Yellow Melo, SGA, Jayson Tatum, Evan Mobley and many others aren’t getting the shine they deserve which if they were, would open the aperture of the league and invigorate several fan bases in the process. Instead we’re being held hostage by the nearsightedness of major sports networks and media outlets because they refuse to respect NBA fans enough to actually do some real actual work. God forbid. Continuously recycling the same shit is even more damaging than they realize. Trying to maintain an image of superiority for an aging guy on a struggling team doesn’t really go down that smooth. By no means am I saying not to mention LeBron. If he does something noteworthy then by all means. But incessantly shoving it down our throats with so many other players to discuss is counterproductive. By using the “Supreme Ruler” tactic, it does nothing but harken back to a dude who hasn’t taken a shot in the NBA in 20 years. Are y’all really not tired of this yet? If it hasn’t been unequivocally proven in 19 years it might be time to give it a rest. They’ve undermined a great career with this nonsense and instead of correcting the err of their ways, they are repeating the same mistakes and not allowing these young guys to blossom. They’re killing these careers fresh out the womb.
Another positive attribute of the league that’s being ignored amidst the regurgitated talking points is we have come to a place where the NBA has reached a level of parity that fans have been clamoring for for a while now. If it’s just me I’ll shut up but I definitely remember a lot of, “The NBA is boring. You already know who’s going to the Finals.” talk during a certain team’s dominant run recently. Well things are wide open now. It’s a good time to widen the scope of coverage for the league. The East has reemerged as the dominant conference. If your name isn’t the Warriors or the Suns, you haven’t been excited to see any team that’s housed in a city that uses Eastern Standard Time (and yeah, I obviously know some teams in the Eastern Conference are in a different time zone). Hell, even the resurgence of the Warriors is a noteworthy topic of discussion. There’s some interesting caveats in there that deserve some attention. Apologizing to Andrew Wiggins is a good start. Coincidentally, Wiggins is a casualty of the media incompetence that birthed this article. The Bulls success is one of the feel good stories of the season. Lonzo was written off. Demar was supposed to be washed. Now look at them, flourishing. The Wizards are a puzzle, wrapped in a riddle, encased in an enigma. The 10-3 start shocked everyone. The December slide had everyone thinking it was back to business as usual. And now they are playing decent basketball again. And yet another player who caught a stray from the 40 year old promotional tactics is right there in the midst of the action. Kyle Kuzma has been playing his ass off lately. He’s averaging 28 ppg and 11 rebs and shooting 55% from the field in his last four games. He was left for dead in L.A. His resurrection could make for some stimulating reading material. Not embracing the full spectrum of what the league has to offer is a disservice to all parties involved.
They need to burn that playbook and do it with haste. Because if this continues, several players and fans will suffer moving forward. The powers that be don’t feel the need to change because they are shielded. Maintaining the same adage year in and year out, it creates polarity and divisiveness which ultimate provides engagement. Pretty sure those old farts are pleased with that outcome. And no one is going to throw any vigor their way. They’re insulated from the blowback. And I get it. LeBron’s an easy target man. And he’s definitely played a part in perpetuating this narrative. But screw him for a second. Exploiting the NBA for personal gain is a completely understandable course of action. And it’s his job. But sitting on your ass for 40 years and not evolving the coverage and branding of your league and wasting once in a generation assets in the process is unconscionable. We need to demand more from these decrepit bozos instead of bickering with each other about an essentially meaningless topic. They got us in a spin man. It’s time to break the cycle. But we have to be willing to do our part to disengage. Don’t click on that “The oldest player to score 25 points on a Taco Tuesday on the road in the month of January when the surface temperature of Venus is 300 degrees Fahrenheit” article. Instead talk about Ja Morant dropping 36 on the Nets and getting the W.
Personally, I’m ready for the tide of the conversation to change. It has nothing to do with any particular player. I just think that it’s boring, nauseating and repetitive. How do you ever expect the league to move forward if the basis of comparison continues to be a dude who hasn’t won a championship since Bill Clinton was in office? Honor that history and let it reside in the pantheon of NBA folklore. Reviving it every season just halts progress and it’s done nothing but inflict harm. Basketball discussions have become dull and lack any substance. The narrative has subjected millions to having to watch the Green Goblin yell at a dude in a CVS goat mask with a black and mild hanging out of his mouth for two hours everyday. NBA execs, media, creative personnel and commentators, please act like there is at least one original thought in that brain you share and free us from this unfresh hell. It would be a welcome change, I’m sure of it. Let’s break the wheel together.