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Ted Green: During NBA finals, the questions fall short of z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z

I don't think I've been this embarrassed to be a member of the sports media since I saw sportswriters actually jostling each other to get to the free prime rib in the old Dodger Stadium press lounge.

Why, you ask?

I spent 30 minutes of valuable time listening to the full press podium interviews conducted today in Orlando between Games 3 and 4 of the NBA Finals.

Trust me when I tell you, Woodward and Bernstein were NOT present at Amway Arena. Nor were "60 Minutes," "48 Hours," Jim Lehrer, Ted Koppel or even Barbara Walters or Geraldo Rivera as the Stinky Flowers of American journalism interrogated the Lakers and Magic.

These were actual questions asked today, transcribed verbatim:

Kobe, how difficult is it to win on the road? (Uh, I don't know, Helio Castroneves just did it at Indy.) 

Next question: Pau, should you have gotten more touches last night? (Pau to himself: "Dios mio, did this guy follow me to the club after the game?" )

Next, please. Dwight, what have you done to improve at the foul line? (Duh, let's see, wild guess here ... he practiced a lot?)

Edward R. Murrow, your legacy in pioneer journalism is plainly safe.

As Mark Jackson would say, my word, is it any wonder athletes think the Fourth Estate is dumber than dirt? No wonder many jocks act like they'd rather undergo an unaesthesized root canal than trudge to another postgame presser.

I have one innocent question: Why won't the camera and laptop crowd just ask basic, simple human interest questions? Questions any ordinary fan might ask if given the chance, questions that might at least stand a fighting chance of engendering a provocative sound bite or quotable response?

Maybe like these:

  • Kobe, is Orlando better than you thought they'd be or are they MUCH better?

  • Kobe, can you see this series going the full seven games?
  • Phil, Kobe was exhausted in Denver and looked out on his feet in the fourth quarter last night. Are you worried he's hit the wall?
  • Pau, most of the city of Los Angeles has already awarded you the championship. Do you think all the celebrating is a little premature?
  • Fish, what would you say to Laker fans who already have their spots picked out along the parade route on Figueroa?

I'm not saying these questions are so brilliant, Mike Wallace is bound to send a congratulatory note and that's Don Hewitt for me on Line 1, but at least there's a chance you might get a lively, colorful reply. Pretending you're James Naismith, who invented the game, or an NBA coach when in real life you work for some obscure dot-com, then asking what "adjustments" have to be made is not likely to provoke answers that will cause an immediate spike in ratings, readership or web hits.

Instead, what happens is, the players morph into zombie mode, switching to autopilot, with answers that are almost always stultifyingly predictable. Oh, did I also mention dull and boring?

For the sake of Kobe, Dwight, Phil, Stan, Pau, his touches and all the players, I hope No-Doz is not on the banned substance list. At the rate the Finals press corps is going, they're gonna need it.  And I want my half-hour back.
 
-- Ted Green

Green formerly covered the Lakers for the L.A. Times. He is currently Senior Sports Producer for KTLA Prime News.

 
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