The Heat is off?


A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection (Moonlight) or the uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies (Manchester by the Sea). It is the story of redemption and of rising against odds. And while the 89th Academy Awards will be broadcast this evening, the NBA and Turner may broadcast Shaqtin’ A Fool, the NBA performance that captured this weekend’s attention.

The performances, malapropism, general weirdness of JaVale McGee’s actions that drive Shaqtin’ A Fool is what network producers crave. The reactions are the bonus material; the social airing of hurt feelings by McGee, by the former player (Shaq) and the team employing McGee (Golden State Warriors). It was a win for everybody except basketball fans who like to watch good basketball. To promote quality basketball is clearly secondary to the reality brand of basketball played off the court.

Comic relief blooper reels. It’s retired stars whose egos need more stroking than jump shots. It’s the banana boat crew and hurt feelings. And it’s too much social media and not enough basketball, meaning not enough Miami Heat brand of basketball. The brand that scores over 100 points a game for 16 straight games. An NBA season high 13 game winning streak, winning 15 of the last 17 games should be enough consideration to be aired on network television . But the fact is this team cannot get network coverage because the star power left town and now lamenting about it half way through the season:

The NBA has always been a cliche “star driven league” and that continues to be true. But what has changed is which court of opinion is more important. And the stars that make their most important contributions off the court now are the ones who get highlighted by the networks on the court. Whether it’s the ongoing Carmelo Anthony drama in New York or how LeBron James molds a team in basketball and in life. And, of course, it is Dwayne Wade, like Lebron, going home to play but not really appreciating the journey:

So, instead of appreciating similar stories like the first Medal of Honor recipient who never fired a shot (Hacksaw Ridge), the networks thrive on the stars that are always taking shots. The difference is that the most revered shots are now taken off the court, not on.