I've been trying to put my finger on why I've been feeling that media coverage of the Blazers (local, blogosphere, and what little national coverage there is) is so uninteresting to me this year, and today's Oregonian article about draft hindsight was helpful. Not in terms of understanding basketball or the state of the Blazers, of course, but in terms of understanding what's missing from media coverage. The first sentence states that the Blazers "enter the New Year with little reason for optimism". What does he mean? That they'll struggle with the Rockets tonight? No, of course not. He means that the multiple championships that we were promised by the pundits have lower odds than they had when the pundits were putting their money on it. In a nutshell, this article is all about the past and the future, but there is no present in it. One might criticize the article on its own grounds (e.g., which franchise changer should we have drafted instead of Roy -- Rudy Gay, JJ Reddick?) but at the end of the day, my lack of interest in the article comes from the fact that it has nothing to do with what draws me to the sport: basketball games. What is so great about basketball is that it is real-time, unscripted and unpredictable. And I may be alone in this (I suspect not), but I really enjoy watching our current starting five play (when they're clicking, which they are doing more of these days). Eras of the team come and go, decisions are made, risks are taken (of course), teams meet or exceed or don't meet expectations -- but they always have to play the games, which is why we watch. Right now, as a regular spectator, the media gives met this: recaps that I don't need (just the boxscore, ma'am), some useful and interesting previews from knowledgeable sources (thanks Dave and Mike Rice), and a lot of hoo-haw about spoiled expectations and second guessing. My expectation is that there will be a game tonight at 6pm, and that expectation will be spoiled if it gets canceled for some reason. I expect that it will be fun to see Wes Matthews try to cork up Kevin Martin. Camby should have a good game on the boards, I expect, given the Rocket's lack of bigs. Let's see if my expectations are met. Would I like to have a do-over -- be able to change the past in some way to improve the team? Yes, I'd like to re-play the Nuggets after that awful second half the other night. Oh, yeah, we do get to play them several more times this year, so no worries.
I used to pay attention to some of the predictions/projections that are out there, but at this point I really don't know what they are for exactly. What is the point of predicting? To earn a better margin when gambling? To be able to say 'I predicted it'? There seems to be a whole media industry built up around this notion of tracking expectations of experts and measuring performance relative to these expectations, as if they have some kind of intrinsic value or should change the way we watch a game. Such and such team will be hugely disappointed/ing if they don't reach milestone X. That may be the case, but there are 100 odd games to be played in the meantime, each one of which is a win-loss proposition, with the potential for drama and excitement. It almost seems like some people would just as well skip forward to the trophy ceremony if they could, which I don't understand at all -- the glory's in the games played, at least for me, win or lose, no use jumping past the good stuff. As far as the past goes, I've never understood obsessive draft do-over debates, might as well talk about a roulette do-over, every pick is a risk, period.
Forget the past, forget the future, we've got a game tonight folks, and it's one game at a time in the NBA. I'm optimistic that the game will meet my high expectations and we'll leave with a W.