In a world of endless technological innovation, there are some things that are better left alone. Sliced bread is one example, and as P.J. O’Rourke once wrote, “radios you could tune with a knob” are another.
The point is, some things just don’t need to be changed.
But ESPN’s NBA playoff broadcast of Monday’s Western Conference Finals Game 4 between the Warriors and Trail Blazers apparently never got the memo.
How else to explain the absolute atrocity that is superimposing four talking heads over the action in the middle of a game?
just turned on ESPN2 and WTF pic.twitter.com/jSPLH3cEtE
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) May 21, 2019
This is a bit like “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” except there are no robots, everyone is facing forward and brightly lit, and instead of laughing with them, you’re yelling at them to stop talking because you’re trying to watch the movie.
— Jeff Corbett (@JeffX) May 21, 2019
This wouldn’t even be a good idea if it were Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal doing it, and those commentators from the TNT broadcast make up arguably the best studio broadcast in sports.
The only bright side to all of this is that the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” at least had the common courtesy to put a traditional broadcast on the main ESPN network while simultaneously allowing ESPN2 viewers to watch this dumpster burn.
Though as Awful Announcing pointed out, plenty of fans likely turned on the ESPN2 broadcast and no doubt thought that was the only place they could watch the game.
Other fans on Twitter were not shy in expressing just how much of a ludicrous disaster the alternative broadcast idea was.
@ESPNNBA ESPN2 wins the ‘worst thing you could do to a basketball game award’ for the 4 floaters at the bottom of the screen talking like you’re in the worst sports bar in the world and they hate both silence and basketball. #Blazers #Warriors #GSWatPDX
— Porkchop Factory (@porkchopfactory) May 21, 2019
Now, the above tweet is not entirely fair.
The worst thing you could do to a basketball game would be to have Byron Scott and Mark Jackson coaching it rather than annoying home viewers trying to watch on ESPN.
But ESPN2 is on the medal stand at the Stupidity Olympics for this one.
And of course, this entire debacle goes to show much better TNT’s coverage of the playoffs is.
The Warriors, meanwhile, won a Game 4 overtime thriller 119-117, thus completing the sweep over the Trail Blazers.
For the first time in NBA history, a team that doesn’t have Bill Russell on it will go to a fifth straight NBA Finals.
But it’s apparently unconscionable to ESPN that anyone would actually want to pay attention to the game on the court when they could instead be forced via distraction to hang on the every word of a bunch of talking heads taking up a third of the screen.
Please, “Worldwide Leader:” For the love of all that is good about basketball, don’t make this alternative broadcast a permanent, or even semi-permanent, thing.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.