Perspective and fairness.
That’s all we ask for from ABC’s studio crew in these Finals.
If the Heat loses a game, don’t say the Heat lacks the will to win, as Magic Johnson said after Game 5 of the Celtics series last week. Don’t say LeBron James and Dwyane Wade won’t win a championship because they’re such good friends, as Magic said this spring.
Don’t say the Heat cannot be trusted, or that the players are front-runners, or that the players point fingers, as Jon Barry said last week. Barry also has insisted the Heat’s stars do not make each other better, which can certainly be disputed, especially when Wade and James are combining on those electrifying plays in transition.
The ABC studio crew has generated plenty of spirited dialogue in its first year without a natural host, but our issue is this: There’s too much sky-is-falling overreaction to every Heat loss, too much of an agenda to prematurely condemn and dismiss the Heat and the blueprint. Too much reaching for explanations that are intellectually lazy (such as Magic’s will-to-win argument) or without basis.
It’s surprising coming from Magic, because he also makes a lot of sound points in between the occasional head-scratching ones. Heat owner Micky Arison told 790 The Ticket that he had to mute the volume on his friend Magic last week.
If the Heat loses this series, it will not be because of will to win or finger-pointing. Let’s hope the ABC studio crew realizes that and doesn’t bury the Heat before, you know, the series is actually over.
ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy, who will call the games with Mike Breen, said though he understands why Cleveland fans “harbor resentment” toward James, “other than that, I don’t understand any other fan” resenting him.
“If the biggest mistake he made in his life is how he announced he is exercising his free agency decision and the celebration that ensued because of it, I really don’t get why that has provoked such bitterness and animosity, particularly one that has lasted this long,” Van Gundy said on a conference call Monday. “The way he goes about his business is the model for how you want to play the game.”
• Fox’s hiring of Mike Pereira for NFL broadcasts has clearly started a trend. This week, ABC added former NBA referee Steve Javie, who will be on call in the studio or at his Philadelphia home for every Finals game to answer any questions that arise.
Javie, who retired after last season because of knee problems, was never a Heat favorite. Pat Riley once said that Javie turned to him during a game, a decade ago, and said: “It’s giving us absolute delight to watch you and your team die.” Javie reportedly was fined $1,000.
“We thought we would make our viewers a little smarter if we had an official there,” ESPN executive producer Mark Gross said.
Even though Oklahoma City is a small market, this is the matchup ABC would have preferred if it couldn’t get the Lakers instead of the Thunder.
“We were thrilled with Eastern Conference finals and even more thrilled with the Finals,” Gross said. “Having the Heat and Thunder with the star power — you can’t ask for anything more.”
As Van Gundy cracked: “I’m confident with Mike Breen, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, the ratings will soar.”
Last year, about one-third of all Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets (33.7) watched each Heat-Mavericks Finals game, on average. The Heat’s high local rating so far during these playoffs was the 25.0 for Game 7 of Heat-Celtics.