The only real piece the big local sources have on the Blazers this morning (other than Jason Quick's blog update cited in Broggerboy's diary to the right) is a column by Dwight Jaynes in which he laments the "homer" tendencies of the Blazer broadcasters.
Mike Barrett has been a good friend to this blog and is an incredibly helpful and nice guy. He also, to his credit, provides a lot of insight into the team that we wouldn't otherwise get. He works very hard at what he does and is a fine ambassador for the team. Dwight's question appears to be whether a broadcaster should be primarily an ambassador for the team. I think that's an open question.
On the one hand I concur in the sense that I'd like someone to just tell me the story without doing my rooting for me. On the other hand I don't recall guys like Bill Schonely and Pat Lafferty being very neutral. The only detached, professional NBA broadcasters work for the national networks, and even they tend to emphasize certain teams (or at least stories) over others. The neutral broadcaster just doesn't exist much anymore, at least not in this league. When you consider the greats like Chick Hearn and Johnny Most, maybe they never did.
I think it's usually safer to accept each source for what it is instead of criticizing what it's not. When I read Mike Barrett's blog I pretty much know what I'm going to get: first-hand, perceptive insight on the team, 95% of which will be positive. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't think anybody would enjoy or accept that being the only source of information about the team but as long as you understand where it's coming from Mike's stuff really does add something irreplaceable to the conversation.
I also understand that when I watch a Blazer broadcast I'm going to hear a different story than when I see the opponent's feed. I love having League Pass for this very reason...because I get more than one view of the team. (The opponent's broadcast, by the way, is just as slanted towards them as ours is towards us.)
While I am generally fine with all this I do agree with Dwight that there are certain moments that stretch the limits of credulity. Or better put: sometimes the guys say things that make it harder to be happy about the home perspective. Dwight's citation about not criticizing a player's weaknesses until after they leave the team is apt. To his credit Mike Rice has been more willing to point out a player's flaws in recent years but the balance is still way slanted towards the home field. You can almost hear a tone of relief once a player is traded, as in, "Whew! We can finally say this!" Sometimes it would be nicer just to hear it before, especially when the whole town already knows.
Having sat next to some of these people during games I can tell you that they are quite accomplished at critcially analyzing the action. That critical analysis doesn't always make it on-air. I think if it did more often the broadcasts, and the fan base, would be richer for it. It might also help people understand better what the coaching staff is seeing. The broadcasters don't want to speak for the coach or show up the players too much, but if we had an occasional replay showing where Player X was supposed to be on defense versus where he actually ended up it would show us the ideal we're shooting for and make it easier to understand why that player spent some time on the bench. Another way of saying this is that while I'm often entertained by NBA broadcasts I feel like it's been a while since I've been taught anything watching an NBA broadcast. A little more balance might be nice.