The sports press says so, and that’s all that matters

Dirk Nowitzki at the free throw lineJournalism thinkers spend a lot of time on the concept of bias. By now, nearly everybody agrees that the idea that journalists are unbiased is a myth — a fantasy created by those who need a sterile environment within which to sell advertising. It turns out people are people, whether they can write or not, and little things tend to give away what we’re really thinking.

Jay Rosen is one of those who consistently challenges us to do better. He has many little “isms,” but one stands out. He calls “the press” — and to an extent the Washington press corps — “the church of the savvy.” In Jay’s mind (and he’s most certainly correct here), the press tries to “hog realism to itself.” This is a fancy way of saying the press determines what is news and its accompanying narratives.

No where is this more evident, I believe, that with the sports press.

I’m going to confess up front here that I’m a Dallas Mavericks fan, and that perhaps it’s why I see things the way I see them. However, I think any honest examination of the facts will prove I’m right.

As of this writing, the Mavericks lead the Miami Heat three games to two in their best of seven NBA Finals. The Mavericks lead, but the national coverage is all about Miami. This is expected, I assume, because Miami’s triumvirate of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh promised championships when they came together last summer. LeBron James, especially, is the object of everybody’s attention, because some sports writers have declared him the best to ever play the game. I don’t think so, but that’s irrelevant.

What’s irksome, however, is the worship of the Heat as “the reality” in this series. I even heard ESPN’s Colin Cowherd note on his show this week that the only team capable of beating the Miami Heat is the Miami Heat, and he was serious. Cowherd is known to be provocative, but this is the general consensus among the “savvy” who decide “the story” for everybody else.

After Thursday’s Mavericks’ win, Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press wrote: “Still, these finals are turning into what James isn’t doing, much more than what the Mavs are doing.” What?

“James with opportunity to define himself over upcoming two games’ was the headline of Ian Thomsen’s Sports Illustrated piece. “The Heat screwed up this series,” he penned, “by failing to protect a pair of big fourth-quarter leads, so now they have to live with the new realities.” Again, what?

Bernie Miklasz asked, “Will LeBron revert to attack mode?”

LeBron James apologist Daniel Barber of Yahoo Sports wrote, “In truth, LeBron has shown over and over again that despite how much everyone tries to paint him as something he isn’t, he’s a champion at heart.” He then goes on to add these incredible comments:

James is a humble man willing to praise his opponents even as they snidely call him an “actor” for doing only what they themselves do to an even greater degree even when they’re unjustified in doing so; complain about horrific calls and non-calls.

LeBron is a calm individual devoid of arrogance as he stoically handles villainous sports media talking heads who want to paint him as the villain at every turn. James is a team-first player who does whatever it takes to help his teammates succeed, while every pundit on the planet it seems vilifies him for “shrinking” and “disappearing” in crunch-time.

… Dallas is taking advantage of the officials calling these past three games so blatantly one-sided. Absolutely they finally hit their shots in Game 5—many of them such mind-boggling prayers you have to wonder if God himself is getting in on the act as well—but the referees literally allowing the Mavericks to foul James with impunity while almost never being whistled for a foul has taken him out of his game.

Has Barber not seen the YouTube video of James acting his way to the free throw line against Chicago and then winking at teammates after the call? Did he not see the call against Brendon Haywood resulting from James literally throwing himself out-of-bounds after he brushed against Haywood in game 4? Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle got a technical foul for complaining about that one.

So the question is if LeBron James is such an incredible player, why does he have to resort to acting to get to the free throw line?

I’m sorry, but the cumulative effect of all of these (and hundreds more) stories is that the Dallas Mavericks are an afterthought, even though they’re a game away from the ring.

Folks, let me tell you that the Mavericks have been a MUCH better team than anybody has given them credit for this year. They quietly go about their business and win. Nobody talks about the Mavs’ number two player, Caron Butler, sitting on the bench. We’re just NOT “the story” and that’s not right. When this series is over, regardless of who wins, I would wager that it will be LeBron James on the cover of the sports magazines, not Dirk Nowitzki.

The sports press says so, and that’s all that matters.

Comments

  1. Lebron James is a child. His personal and character development are frozen at the pre-adolescent age when he started being treated like a god. He plays, thinks, acts, and reasons like a child. He lacks professionalism, as one would expect out of a child. See the video at: http://yhoo.it/kVEaBc . He tried to take a shortcut to the championship. It may yet work for him, in another year if not this one, and if so, it will be a real shame. Great players wish to conquer other great players, not stack the deck by putting as many of them on their team as they can. He has enormous athletic talent, but he hasn’t anything even resembling character. No one will tell him “no.” No one will get in his face and tell him to grow up. The only punishing weapon for a man so wealthy and worshipped is humiliation, and the Mavericks are using it now.

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