Saturday, June 09, 2012

Stellar System

Deadspin says the whole fixation on "the best player in the NBA" is  pointless.
Deadspin is wrong. You need stars.
Right now, the Stanley Cup Finals are in full swing. The teams involved - Jersey and LA, in case you were wondering - represent the two biggest media markets in the country. There are story lines here, with LA chasing a Cup that even Wayne Gretzky couldn't give it, and Jersey trying to win another one for the ageless Marty Brodeur. It's exactly the sort of thing that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman - a man who apocryphally was once given a hockey puck as a present and spent an hour trying to open it - would want.
And yet, nobody's talking about it. The airwaves are full of LBJ choke this and Kevin Durant that and some Josh Hamilton, and maybe a little Drew Brees on the side. But no hockey, not unless you really look for it.
On the NBA side, everyone's a-flutter over the ascent of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and totally stoked to have them in the finals. This is despite the fact that OKC is the 30th largest city in America, the sort of market whose presence in a Finals tends to provoke hand-wringing and sad cries of "will no one think of the ratings?"
But they have stars. They have Kevin Durant, who is turning into the MJ to Greg Oden's Joe Barry Carroll. They have Russell Westbrook. They have James Harden, whose national profile skyrocketed after Metta World Peace used him for a speed bag on national TV. And this makes all the difference.
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