by John Walters
Note: We already posted an IAH! this a.m. but had a couple more items we wanted to add….
The Daily Harrumph: LaForce-LeBron
Let’s begin with two notes on the Allie LaForce-LeBron James postgame interview last night: 1) this is NOT a big deal and while any words we devote here seems to contradict that, please understand we are only doing so because we feel too many people got it too incorrect and because really, do we want to spend any more time talking about Starbucks? and 2) Kyle Koster over at The Big Lead said most of what we want to say, so there may be a little overlap, but give it a read anyway.
To begin: Was San Antonio Spur coach Gregg Popovich’s wife a public figure? Coach Pop is, but was she? Did you know her name? Do you know what she looked like? Did you realize he’d been married for four decades? Did you know she was ill?
At most, you knew Pop was married, is my guess. This was not the death of another Texas matriarch, Barbara Bush. This was basically a private citizen married to the NBA’s longest-tenured but also most intensely private coach.
So the first question is simple: After LeBron James had just scored 46 points in Cleveland’s Game 2 win to even the series with Indiana, did the death of Erin Popovich really need to be broached on national TV by Allie LaForce? What relevancy did it have to the game?
Second, the cool kids in the media on Twitter, sports journalism’s inner circle, admonished us to “put down our pitchforks” for crying foul here. Part of the reasoning was that LaForce had informed LeBron of the news moments before they went on camera. In other words, she’d given him a heads up and asked if it was okay. And they believe for some reason this absolves everyone of blame. No. It doesn’t work that way. Here’s why:
1) If you are going to ask for an on-camera reaction, clue us viewers in to the fact that you’re not springing this on LBJ live by beginning, “As we just spoke about off-camera…” We’re not mind readers. We can only go on what we see.
2) Since you did inform LBJ off-camera first, then his reaction to your telling him this news makes no sense. Is he acting? Really? Or maybe in the chaos of postgame stuff, he didn’t actually hear what you whispered in his ear about Popovich or it failed to register. Either way, it’s either a bad look for TNT because they sprung it on LeBron or it’s a bad look for LeBron because he was being somewhat of a phony in terms of his reaction.
3) Chances are LaForce’s producer wanted this because it would make good TV. And it did. It just makes terrible humanity. What we love about Pop is that his B.S. detector is particularly acute and while he probably wasn’t watching and he may not care, if you were to present him with what transpired as an objective scenario, using other people as subjects, his first thoughts would be that TNT was exploiting that poor women’s death for a sound byte.
— Sarah Spain (@SarahSpain) April 19, 2018
Of course, the usual Front-Row-Press-Row or ESPN talking head gang came immediately to Allie’s defense. And we have nothing against LaForce (we don’t know her but she is bright and friendly and yes, beautiful) but we wonder if these same people would come to the defense of an unknown reporter as swiftly. And maybe when that many of us are griping about this, that might say something about whether what took place is at least questionable (sheerly by the number of people questioning it). We found it amusing how quickly some of the more important folks on Sports Twitter rose up to tell us there’s nothing to see here.
Not only did she give him a heads up, but per Ernie Johnson, she asked if he wanted to comment on it and LeBron said he would. So I think y’all can put down the pitchforks on this one. https://t.co/Lp5yjHGxfG
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) April 19, 2018
We guess in the end it’s kind of like this: You know when you’re in a relationship and you ask your partner, “Are you mad at me?” Well, you’re not posing that question unless your partner has a reason to be mad at you. Likewise, you can defend this interview all you want, but the fact that so many of us feel it was disingenuous and exploitative speaks for itself.
Pop shared this perspective two days ago, while his wife was reportedly dying, in the middle of a Playoff series … just think about that. https://t.co/36O4Wqubrv
— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) April 19, 2018
Finally, last night someone else on Twitter admonished us for not tsk-tsk’ing the reporter who asked Kevin Durant, after practice, about the same issue. They wondered why we were so much more critical of LaForce than of the reporter?
Really, dude? One instance was a post-practice reporters’ scrum that someone happened to be videotaping. The other was live TV, moments after the man being interviewed had scored 46 points. There’s nothing wrong with asking Durant or LeBron for a reaction, but there’s no need to grand-stand it. It’s 2018. People are going to have smartphones out recording video. But the guy who asked KD wasn’t asking him specifically to get an on-air response before millions of viewers.
In The Dark
We didn’t watch much of ESPN’s broadcast of the 16-inning marathon between the Indians and Twins in San Juan last night, but we did see the in-booth interview with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
You could call it questionable taste to air a night baseball game being powered by generators when all the residents of Puerto Rico are without power (I do), but then you can also make the argument that the game was a welcome reprieve. And while I imagine host Karl Ravech and analyst Tim Kurkjian discussed the island’s blackout and its post-hurricane struggles at length during the telecast (at least I hope so), what struck me as particularly discordant is that Manfred never did. In fact, when asked to assess this excursion by MLB to the ravaged island territory, his answer was, “I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.”
That’s a little tone deaf, no?
Michael Cohen lives on Long Island. Sean Hannity lives on Long Island. Bill O’Reilly lives on Long Island (note: as Jerry Seinfeld has explained, it’s “on Long Island but in Manhattan,” even though both are islands; don’t ask, we don’t know).
Donald Trump is from Queens, which is technically part of Long Island. Our guess is that a good one-third of that Theta Tau group from Syracuse is from Long Island. Anyone sensing a pattern here.
Don’t get us wrong: We love Brooklyn (part of LongIsland technically), the Rockaways and, on the far eastern end, Montauk. It’s just (most everything) in between (love you, too, Jones Beach).