Writing in a 24-hour news cycle

By Tom Donelson, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: June 27, 2009

IOWA CITY (BASN) — A noted ESPN pundit stated, the Lakers did not look like a championship team after the Lakers-Rockets series. There was no doubt that during that series, L.A. looked like less than championship caliber as there were times that the Lakers played as they had better to things to do.

The problem for our pundit was that the Lakers improved in the upcoming series and went on to win the NBA titles against two “physical” teams that supposedly gave the Lakers fit.

This same pundit also disparage the United States Soccer team after getting nailed by Brazil in a lopsided game but since then, the United States upset Spain after beating Egypt, a good soccer team in their own right.

What is the lesson here?

Simple, wait for the events play out. This pundit, who has large a following and been in the sports business for two decades, reacted to a 24-hour news cycle. Let’s be blunt, there is a pundit or reporter who hasn’t been guilty of this, myself included.

We got caught up in the moment and sometimes forgetting that sports drama can be long acting and at times often prove even the smartest of pundits wrong.

In the case of the recent NBA playoffs, the Lakers did look horrible at times against the Rockets but once they survived the series against the undermanned Rockets, they proceeded to dominate the next two rounds.

Often times, teams find themselves in close battles in the course of a playoff before righting the ship. The Celtics did the same thing in the previous year — barely win the opening two round series before winning the Eastern Conference and NBA Finals four games to two.

As the playoffs proceeded, the Celtics became better and this year edition of the Lakers did the exact same thing. The Lakers needed to win four series before claiming their title and over those series, crisis will occurs for even the best teams to overcome.

As for American Soccer, the ESPN pundit is right when he doesn’t consider the United States one of the elite programs, notwithstanding the victory over Spain but again, in a competition like the Confederation Cup, teams often come together at the right time to pull off the big upset.

The United States team put it all together for one game against Spain and showed that on any given day, they can play with the elite teams. That is the big story of this particular competition.

The United States have made strides against the big boy. It doesn’t mean we should order out World Cup T-shirts but it does mean that the elite teams will have to take the United States more seriously.

The big problem for pundits is that we are often reacting to what is happening today without waiting for the events to play out. Fans expect instant analysis but sports drama don’t always proceed to a fan or pundit time frame.

It is a case of what have you done for me lately?

Before NBA playoffs began, it was a foregone conclusion that this would be a Cavaliers-Lakers final with LeBron vs. Kobe and I was one of those who were certain that this would be case.

The Cavs easy first two rounds simply reinforced this notion but what was missing from many of us, including yours truly, a prospective that Cavaliers had their own weakness that were expose against the Magic.

While many of us doomed the Lakers because they were not physical enough, it turned out the team that had problems in that department were the Cavalier, who got out muscled by the Magic with Dwight Howard dominating the center paint.

The Lakers victory came because they were a more physical team that others presumed. Against the Celtics in 2008, they found themselves against tougher defensive team but what fans and pundits forgot, the Lakers had to get pass the defensive and tough minded Spurs to reach the 2008 NBA Finals.

They were a tough defensive team but just not as tough as the 2008 Celtics. The Lakers were a tougher team than many suppose going into the 2009 playoffs, having learned from the playing the Celtics the previous year and the Cavaliers weren’t as tough as many imagined.

The lesson to be learned for fans and pundits alike, patience can be virtue when watching a sporting event, playoffs or following a team through a season since what happens at the beginning or the middle doesn’t always mean what will happen at the end.

And it is the end that matters the most. Most fans will not remember the Lakers-Rockets series as much, but they will remember the Lakers-Magic series.