Thursday, April 11, 2013

Debating the issue of whether or not fans are cheated when superstars don't play

The Celtics just announced that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will not play in Miami on Friday night (read my post on Celtics Life).  The Heat sat out LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh last night.  While all 5 players are allegedly resting minor injuries, the issue of star players (LeBron in particular) sitting out meaningless late season games has been a hot topic of debate this week.

ESPN's Mike and Mike Show discussed it multiple times, with Mike Greenberg arguing adamantly that it's unfair to the fans.  He sites the example of a family that spends tons of money and drives a long way just to see their favorite player, only to be heartbroken when they arrive at the arena.  Greenberg likened it to the star of Broadway play not performing, and referenced a famous Joe DiMaggio quote about playing hard everyday because there was always a fan in the stands who'd never seen him before.

While I do see this point, one could make the case that Broadway shows are not televised, with their highlights airing on a variety of cable networks 24/7.  Joe DiMaggio did not play in the smartphone/HDTV/ipad/ youtube/ESPNMobile era.  There is no little kid LeBron fan out there who hasn't already seen him dunk thousands of times.  When I go to games myself I often DVR them too, because you can actually get a lot more out of the television coverage.  At least once a night I'll see a spectacular play live and think to myself "wow, I can't wait to go home and watch the replay of that."  In fact it happened with this Jordan Crawford dunk yesterday, which I am magically able to insert on constant repeat into this very article.

I'd like to point out as well that one of the more oddly entertaining games I attended last year was a similar late season "scrubs only" matchup between Miami and Boston.  But you also have to wonder if LeBron sitting is actually helpful to him in anyway.  In contrast Kobe Byant played all 48 minutes last night; I'm pretty sure he'll still be able to light it up in the playoffs too.

For more on this subject take a look at my analysis of the Miami lawyer who sued the Spurs for resting their stars back November.


  1. There's a story from relatively early in Russell's career, when the C's had a more than comfortable lead in the standings well into the season.
    Auerbach felt that Bill was "coasting" along, and read him the riot act. His point was that you never want to give another team the chance to start believing they can beat you. (Remember last year's Philly series?)
    Of course, the expanded playoff formats have altered the landscape as well as perhaps the mindset -- didn't that come up in the Mikes debate.

    BTW, what's a night worker like you doing up and about for M&m?

    A few years ago when my wife the college prof was attending a conference in Vegas to which I tagged along, we returned to our room quite late after a night of fun and frivolity and fell asleep to the opening of the Greenberg and Golic follies -- 3AM.

  2. That's a great point about giving an opponent the mindset that you are beatable. Mike and Mike reruns everyday on espn2 from 10 am to 1pm, I usually watch it while I write before going to work.


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