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Before NBA.com decided not to return my emails asking why my paid-for League Pass Broadband wasn't working, I watched just about as much basketball as anyone else out there, whether I had to write about it or not. I sat through hours of homer announcers, insipid sideline reports, and awful analysis from all manner of local crews covering teams.
I also gladly pricked my ears up as scads of excellent local guys and gals made each game a rewarding experience, teaching me new things, describing in vivid detail what I wasn't there in person to see. Local crews, for the most part, do fantastic work.
And through all of it, not once did I make a point to click over and watch a single halftime show as helmed by the ABC/ESPN crew. Even if an ESPN game was the only one on, I'd flip away at halftime even if it meant watching Guy Fieri work some puns into that beer batter.
Whether Stuart Scott was hosting the show, or in its current incarnation as essentially host-less, what would any NBA junkie learn from Tim Legler, Jon Barry, Magic Johnson, Chris Broussard or Michael Wilbon? I sincerely respect each of those men in their respective, previous fields (I have either seen or listened to each episode of "Pardon the Interruption" since 2001; no exaggeration). But as quick commentators in a halftime setting? They tell you absolutely nothing.
And without a host? Well, this embarrassing turn tends to happen:
No, Magic Johnson doesn't get points for screwing up in a field he wasn't trained for as I wouldn't get points for being predictably awful as point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. There are hundreds of trained on-air types that could ably run a highlight reel for those of us that are looking to catch up on that night's NBA action on the fly. Hire one. Don't embarrass good people like Magic by forcing them into roles they're clearly not suited for.
Also, someone needs to double-check the dry-erase boards before they go on air.
The staggering wealth of ESPN's paid-for canon of writers and analysts has been well-documented. From young bloggers to established scribes, ESPN boasts a litany of go-to must reads who have already translated their talents to live video. Worse, even with improving ratings and big names attached, the NBA is still a niche league. Who, exactly, does ESPN think is watching these halftime shows at just after midnight on a Thursday morning? Fair-weather viewers?
ESPN's continued insult, in trotting this crew out to analyze these games and read copy off of teleprompters, shows just how little it thinks of you, viewers. It thinks you're into this. It'd stick Chris Berman and Kelly Clarkson on this set if it weren't for Berman's continued restating of his hatred of the NBA. And Clarkson's hatred of the FCC, we're guessing.
Just 5 1/2 more months and a bajillion nationally televised games to go, fans.