For the most part, reporters are an angry group, naturally, some worse than others. Bill Simmons and Stephen A. Smith absolutely blistered Mario Chalmers, each ranting - as well as trying to elicit a laugh - at the point guard’s ineffectiveness. It’s like Chalmers offended them with how poorly he played, like his missed shots were meant for them and they took it personally. Each reporter, and several of their colleagues, had similar criticism after the first two games of Kawhi Leonard. Tonight was Chalmers’ turn. When a team wins, today’s reporters are more prone to criticize the loser (and look for scapegoats) than praise the winner (and look for heroes). It’s not that they ignore the latter group; it’s just that they spend an inordinate amount of time - and, even, revel - in the former’s misery.
One guy was so obnoxious he got Erik Spoelstra to do an impersonation of Gregg Popovich. Later, he had similar “follow up” comments for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Bobby Ramos, representing Bottom Line (apparently, it’s a radio show) asked Erik Spoelstra (although it was more like he vented at him) shortly after the game his team lost, “Coach, you gave San Antonio the credit and you mentioned a couple times that you’re in the Finals. How does a team, in their fourth Finals, come out in the Finals, their first home game, and get beat to the ball, to get stomped the way they did, the kind of heart your championship team has, to come out tonight like they did mentally, has to be something that’s a problem.”
Spoelstra looked at Ramos and replied, “Clearly.” It was the perfect response to someone who, quite obviously, was trying to evoke an emotional reaction from the head coach whose team had just given back the home advantage they stole from the Spurs in Game 2. While Ramos had chosen the perfect target (psychologically), Spo basically looked him in the eye and told him to take his question and throw it in the ocean.
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James came out to face the media and, once again, Ramos attempted, for unknown reasons, to get under the players’ skin. “You have a great defense, they’re averaging 104 points a game, you have a lot of offense, you haven’t broke (sic) 100 yet. Is the problem your lackluster defense or is it the problem you’re having offensively? Lackluster offense?” Possibly because he couldn’t meet him in a dark alley, in the wee hours of the morning, one-on-one, James just laughed at a post game
question put down.
And, as with his coach, D Wade offered a calm response. “The problem is we’re down two games to one.” Not sure why Ramos didn’t follow up with, “And I’ve watched your kids play. They suck, too.” Although, with that one, he would have been pressing his luck.
Even Mark Schwartz, of ESPN, asked the asinine question, “Why, in a Finals, would you come out with such a lack of urgency?” Exactly what do these guys expect players to say?
LeBron’s answer was the obvious. “It wasn’t that we came out with a lack of urgency, it’s that they came out so aggressively.” Maybe those questions are asked on the chance that, one time, one time, a player will say, “Because our coach told us to conserve our energy early” or “We had some party last night and we really blew it out. Frankly, I’m surprised we played as well as we did, considering the physical shape we were in just an hour before the game.”
It’s not that former coaches in the media don’t get angry; it’s just that they’re more analytical. They have to be. Naturally, after a 35-year coaching career, I’m more partial to comments and analyses from coaches than I am from media members (and, even, players). That’s why I appreciate hearing Jeff Van Gundy and Hubie Brown do color commentary and Doug Collins in the studio. “That’s what the playoffs are all about,” said Collins, after hearing Simmons’ post game comments about how Miami was in trouble after Game 1, then how San Antonio was in trouble after Game 2, and now how the Heat are in dire straits because the Spurs torched them last night. “Managing the emotional waters,” is how Collins explained the coach’s job.
Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if San Antonio could run their offense as easily and effectively as it did last night, that they would do it that way every game? Does anybody think the reason their offense ran so smoothly last night was because of adjustments Pop made after their loss in Game 2? We all need to keep in mind that these are the two best teams in the world. After the Heat lost Game 1, they did what all great teams do. They made adjustments and those adjustments worked. Why? Because they executed them properly, as well as raised their intensity level. Following that game, the tables were turned. The Spurs were the more desperate team. And now the Heat are under the greater pressure to win.
The difference between being a coach and being a media member is that media members are here to educate and entertain the fans (and they direct their commentary to them), while coaches are leaders and must focus on how to get their players to execute as close to perfection as possible and play as hard as they can. Coaches don’t have the luxury media members do because they have a record. Do you think reporters might act differently if, following every game they cover, their work was determined to be a win or a loss - and their jobs were as much on the line as coaches are? In a coach’s world, as with Spoelstra last night, it’s best to remember:
“Better outcomes occur when cooler heads prevail.”