NBA Playoff Confessions Day 7: I Could Do Without “Soft” In My NBA
I know that the NBA isn’t exactly the NFL when it comes to being tough, forceful and physical. Still, while the product on the court won’t ever be as physical as the product the NFL puts on the field, does that mean my announcers have to be “soft?”
I confess; I don’t like Mike Tirico and Mike Breen as announcers. As people, I’m sure they’re fine, but as announcers, they get on my last nerve. It’s probably not the smartest thing in the world for me to say, especially since I hope my career leads to prominence in the media and entertainment worlds, and I could possibly be working for, with, under or over one of those two lead play-by-play announcers.
But I can’t help what I feel. Whenever I’m watching an NBA game on ESPN and something that’s not apropos happens, one of those two guys, Breen or Tirico, always takes the “politically correct” side that darts away from the tough NBA player for the “soft” approach to sports. For example, Kenyon Martin made a big play that essentially closed out a game on the road late in the 2011 NBA season, and after making the play, Martin started spewing some expletives in the general direction of the entire crowd. Breen immediately jumped all over Martin for using those words in a “family” environment like an NBA game. But in my opinion, he has every right to say whatever he wants in his place of work, so long as its acceptable to the people he works for. And last time I checked, the NBA isn’t handing out fines for saying curse words during the game.
Then there is Mike Tirico. To be fair, I can’t even give you a concrete example of what I’m talking about, but oh boy do they exist. I can’t even begin to guess just how many times Tirico has criticized an NBA getting in a scuffle, getting a technical foul or losing their temper. He just has this “almighty” approach to judging basketball players on the court, to the point where he seemingly forgets that this is an emotional sport. Which is quite convenient for him to do, especially since he has been known to let his emotions get in the way of Mike Tirico, the “almighty.”
I hate to say it, but those guys are kind of soft. It’s one thing to stand up for what’s right, but it’s another thing to criticize something because it isn’t ideal. Sure, kids might be better off not hearing Martin spew out curse words after a big play, but then again, it might not have an affect on them at all if the kind of places they find themselves in have 25-year old men at the height of their emotions.
Thankfully, the players on the court aren’t as soft as the announcers—most of the time. Then again, we have a few players in the NBA, who are often called soft, and it is deservedly so.
Chris Bosh is one of those guys who gets labeled soft, and this season has kind of proven that label to be quite accurate. Much like Tirico and Breen, Bosh has “recently” found the spotlight. And upon arriving in the spotlight, his game has fettered away. Specifically, his defensive rebounding percentage has dropped from 25% last season to 20% this season. We could say that some of that is because he’s playing with better rebounding guards in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, however, the quality of big men around him, which would have much profounder impact on his rebounding numbers, has dropped precipitously in the rebounding department. Now does a lack of rebounding make a player soft? In my book, “Yes.” And for as great a player as Bosh is, he kind of deserves the soft label.
But then there is a guy like Amare Stoudemire. A guy who makes all of the wonderful dunks, the occasional “huge” block, and for the most part, looks the part of tough guy in comparison to other NBA forwards. As a result, Stoudemire is rarely a guy who gets labeled soft. However, when it comes to playing defense, Stoudemire isn’t very good at it. In fact, he sucks at it. And that’s hard for me to say as a Knicks fan, but the proof was in the pudding last night, when Stoudemire looked like a civ, back spasms or not, on the defensive side of the court. This is why it’s quite hilarious that Stoudemire is fresh off calling Pau Gasol soft. It’s also convenient that he did it in a season when there’s no chance of him seeing Gasol in the playoffs. I didn’t see him call him soft last season when the Los Angeles Lakers beat his Phoenix Suns brains in. Then again, he did call Lamar Odom lucky, only few minutes after Odom had grabbed 19 points and 19 rebounds while Amare was on the court. Amare Stoudemire…soft!
Last but not least, how about another player we just saw last night in Day 7 of the NBA Playoffs, Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks. He’s not the guy most people would go out of their way to call soft-especially since he’s considered such a versatile defensive player and decent rebounder at 8.9 rebounds per game. However, it’s on the offensive end that Smith’s softness prevails. For a guy with his size and athleticism, he spends way too much time shooting jumpers and three-pointers. Zydrunas Ilgauskas has been labeled soft throughout his career because of his propensity to take outside shots, despite his value as a defender in his younger days, so we shouldn’t give Smith a pass either. Almost two-thirds of Smith’s game, 63%, is via the jumper. Compare that 63% to Stoudemire, Bosh, Gasol and another “soft” player like Dirk Nowitzki, and Smith fits right in with those guys as big men who shoot the ball from the outside way too much. Josh Smith…soft.
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