One of the best things about being a sportswriter is all the chances you have to hear athletes talk endlessly about how they never read the newspapers, that they ignore all on-record criticism and how any sort of printed lobs wouldn't even bother the athletes would they ever deign to read the nattering nabobs. Sticks and stones might break their bones, but they don't even know if words could hurt them -- because they wouldn't read the words long enough to find out.
And then, out of the other side of their mouth, comes the part about how the media never gives (insert team or player here) any credit. Any dap. Any anything. Not that they'd read that junk long enough to find out.
Today's complainer is Dwight Howard, from Telebasket:
"I really think we get no love at all, to be honest. But that's ok. We want to be respected by the teams we play and that's the only thing that matters. The media can pick whoever they want to win the title, but the team that wins the title is the team that plays. The media doesn't play a game. I'm pretty sure nobody thought that the Dallas Mavericks were ever going to win the title this year. It's not about what anybody else says. It's about what you believe. I believe in myself and in my team. We'll bring our team to the top, then we will get some respect."
Dwight is right. Nobody picked the Mavericks to win the title last season. But quite a few people had the Orlando Magic making the NBA Finals in 2010, a year after they lost to the Lakers in the NBA's ultimate round. And I can tell you with confidence that, while I never thought of the Mavs as on par with the Lakers, Heat or Celtics last season, I did count the Mavs as one of those teams that could be right there and move into the Finals with a little luck and good matchups. "Like the Magic from a few years ago," is what I brought up in chats.
And here's what Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin had to say about the situation:
Here's a little clue: "The media" doesn't love or hate anyone, not really. "The media" is not some mindless, faceless entity. We're a bunch of people looking for stories to tell. Stories that people will read. How you react emotionally to said stories depends on your perspective. From your perspective Dwight, look at it this way: Give us good stories to tell (like the year you made the Finals), you feel loved. You get knocked out of the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks, you probably won't like the stories we tell. It's not rocket science.
Of course, this leads to our own brand of doubletalk. We're sick to death of athletes acting as vacuous, uninteresting doofs who never give us anything to write about. And then, when they open their mouth and say something silly like this (the Magic, as Kurt pointed out, were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs last season), we summarily tell them to can it.
With that in place? Can it, Dwight. If you want this to go away, get in Hedo Turkoglu's face a bit more. Start smacking around Gilbert Arenas in the huddle. Or, heaven forbid, sign that contract extension so that your GM doesn't continue to make a series of pound-foolish panic trades and signings in the hopes of keeping you around.
- Orlando Magic
- Dwight Howard