Charles Barkley gets paid to talk about the NBA Playoffs. Last night he encouraged viewers to not to bother watching three of the first-round series.
It’s become a familiar refrain — why do big media companies and the NBA’s broadcast partners employ basketball analysts who don’t really seem to like basketball? Shaq had to apologize to Christian Wood for not really knowing who he was and criticized Donovan Mitchell to his face on the air after a game he won. Charles Barkley complained about having to talk about the Lakers on Christmas day. Candace Parker demonstrated in real-time just how little Shaq understands the modern game.
It’s not that there is no place for criticism in modern basketball analysis, it just feels like there is no place for celebration. Many of these people who are paid to talk about basketball don’t seem all that interested in actually watching basketball. And last night, Barkley encouraged NBA fans to skip three of the four first-round series in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Charles Barkley said the series between the Knicks and Cavs was the only one worth watching
In a segment breaking down the Eastern Conference playoff bracket during Tuesday night’s Play-In games, Barkley said: “America, don’t be foolish. They want you to watch these games. Philly, Boston and Milwaukee are head and shoulders above the rest of these bombs in the Eastern Conference.”
Now, Barkley isn’t wrong about the relative competitiveness of those series — FiveThirtyEight’s projection model gives the Celtics, Bucks and 76ers each a 75 percent or better chance of advancing through the first round, and that’s without even knowing yet whether the Bucks will be playing the Heat, Raptors or Bulls. But upsets happen! The Hawks’ 12 percent chance of getting past the Celtics is about the same as the Kings’ 13 percent chance of making the playoffs before the season began!
No. 8 seeds have knocked off No. 1 seeds before and it’s created some of the most exciting moments in NBA history. The idea that we shouldn’t bother watching a series because there is a heavy favorite feels like an absurd argument, especially when you’re literally being paid to promote this product. But whatever, Chuck can play Super Smash Bros. or whatever he does in the evenings he’s not on television. The rest of us will enjoy some playoff basketball.
Check out The Step Back for more news, analysis, opinion and unique basketball coverage. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to our daily email newsletter, The Whiteboard .