Opinion: The NBA media landscape needs change

The NBA media world has become tiresome, and is taking the fun out of basketball talk.


Carter Sims

The NBA talk world has grown tiresome.

Carter Sims, Managing Editor

Basketball is an ever-evolving art that is displayed on national television nightly. The NBA game is always full of nuance and changes to make the sport better. The media landscape of the league, on the other hand, isn’t so fluid.

 The lens through which major television and radio networks look at the game has become outdated, boring, and frustrating.

One of the main contributors to this is the redundant storylines perpetuated by networks. 

For the majority of this season, the Los Angeles Lakers have been a terrible basketball team, floating around the bottom of the Western Conference, but technically in position for the Play-In tournament. However, the Lakers are talked about like contenders. 

Of course, Lebron James plays for the Lakers and garners large amounts of attention wherever he goes, but the team does not deserve the coverage it has received. While the Lakers did make (as of now) smart moves at the trade deadline, James will be out for a large chunk of the remaining games with an ankle injury, leaving the rest of the team with a steep climb.

This playoff  “push” (wish) has been discussed heavily in recent weeks, even though LA is within a game of both the Thunder and Jazz, teams in similar positions that receive little to no coverage on a regular basis. 

It isn’t just big market teams that receive inflated attention, either. Long before Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant was suspended for several gun-related instances, the Grizz received coverage as the West’s rising team, destined to dethrone the Warriors and change the status quo in the league. In the 3 years Memphis has had this persona, they have won a single playoff series. Plenty of other rising teams like the Kings, Pelicans and Cavs have exciting young talent but don’t see the same hype. 

Latching on to storylines for the sake of clicks and views instead of discussing the actual basketball being played can be tiresome for viewers that have real interest in the sport, because it devalues less popular teams and builds annoyance toward the tired talking points. 

Another aspect that dates these sports news and talk shows is the actual format of the programs themselves. Over the past 20 years, shows across networks like ESPN and Fox Sports have built identities over a general combativeness that hallmarks the medium. The constant debates over who the “GOAT” is, what teams are “legit,” and where players rank in the league has become a cumbersome watch. 

The constant appearance of the debate over who is the best player of all time is particularly irritating to viewers, because regardless of what their opinion is, basketball fans refuse to change their view. A Michael Jordan supporter will never be swayed to look the way of Lebron James or Kobe Bryant in a GOAT debate, but networks like ESPN regularly throw hosts and personalities on screen to hash out an argument that can never be won. 

Despite these growing holes in the most popular channels and shows, there is hope for the future of NBA media. With an ever-growing digital space, NBA fans have been able to express their own thoughts and analysis without the added pressure of appealing to a large market fanbase or delivering a scorching hot take to keep the viewer tuned in. 

While it’s not without its flaws, the increased accessibility provided by NBA League Pass allows fans to watch more games for themselves and develop their own opinion. This product’s rise has coincided with the boom of the content creation industry, leading to more YouTube channels, podcasts, newsletters and digital communities where basketball discourse can be found than ever before. 

If a fan wants to watch an in-depth analysis full of advanced statistics over a certain topic relevant to the league, Youtubers like JxmyHighroller have catalogs of such videos. Fans of small market teams that receive little national attention, such as the Orlando Magic, can check out The Sixth Man Show, a podcast by Magic fans for Magic fans.

This new world has something for every fan, because it holds something from every fan.

Large media corporations will always strive to pull in the most money they can by sticking to a tried and true method, but actual basketball can usher in a new era of media driven by a love of the game itself.