Mark Cuban Demonstrates the Idiocy of Skip Bayless
Stephen A. Smith must have felt lucky that Cuban wasn’t questioning him. He sat quiet for almost the entire six minutes and 49 seconds shown in this video:
Meanwhile, Bayless was squirming in his seat by the end as Cuban forced him to try to explain how the Oklahoma City Thunder guarded LeBron James in the post in Game 5. In fact, he asked Bayless a simple question: “When he (LeBron) was in the post, what were the different defensive schemes that Oklahoma City ran last night?”
Skip couldn’t answer the question. He started talking about who was guarding LeBron and what Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins were supposed to do and Cuban had to help him out by explaining that the Thunder double teamed LeBron and made him kick it out to three-point shooters.
The fact that Skip couldn’t answer a straightforward question about how a player was being guarded shows that he wasn’t paying attention to the game. Instead of looking at how the Thunder were trying to stop LeBron, he must have just been thinking about the fact that the Thunder weren’t stopping him and how he was going to rip the Thunder apart and praise LeBron on the next episode of his show.
Cuban illustrated that this is the wrong way for Bayless and the sports media to come up with their arguments. He explained that the wrong aspects of sports are being focused on and that Bayless will discuss a player’s mindset when he should be looking at the context of the game.
For example, Skip said that Durant didn’t play as hard as LeBron and that’s part of the reason why the Thunder lost. But Cuban was right when he scolded Skip for saying that.
It isn’t as if during this offseason Durant will be thinking that he should have tried harder and now he will do everything he can to get back to the NBA Finals just so he can give more effort this time. Cuban explained that both teams tried as hard as they could to win the series and the Miami Heat just executed better.
The truth is that while Bayless and Stephen A. do sometimes use statistics to back up their points, looking at a box score won’t tell you everything you need to know. Skip argued that LeBron shrank last year in the 2011 NBA Finals by showing that he scored less points than he did in previous series, but that is not enough of an explanation.
Meanwhile, Cuban asserted that LeBron didn’t just disappear against his team but rather that his Dallas Mavericks used a variety of defenses that forced LeBron to the perimeter and made him pass the ball.
Instead of just claiming that LeBron had a weak mindset, Cuban went deeper and looked at the actual context of the game. By doing that, he was able to provide a logical explanation for LeBron’s lackluster performance in the 2011 NBA Finals as well as insight, which is what viewers are trying to glean from the show.
Looking at this year’s finals, the Mavericks owner attacked Bayless for making another unfounded claim—that no player in the history of sports faced more pressure than LeBron did entering the 2012 NBA Finals.
In the video, Cuban alleges that is the stupidest thing he’s ever heard and he should feel that way. LeBron doesn’t have trouble sleeping at night because he’s worried what the sports media will say the next day if the Heat lose a game.
Furthermore, it is ridiculous that Bayless thinks that athletes like LeBron are concerned with what he thinks. Skip argues on the show that while LeBron shrunk under the pressure of the NBA Finals in 2011 that he raised his game in these NBA Finals by tuning him out and reading the Hunger Games trilogy before games.
But, Cuban rightfully points out that what some guy on ESPN 2 thinks doesn’t matter to athletes. All they need to do is get prepared to play, give their best, and that’s it.
Meanwhile, ESPN First Take and other members of the sports media should be the ones attempting to be more professional. They should try to base their arguments around facts rather than making outrageous claims that they think will gain attention.
What should happen in an episode after one of the games in the NBA Finals is Stephen A. and Skip should talk about why the Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t play zone and they should analyze how LeBron was able to get in the lane.
Unfortunately, the way the show is set up right now—Bayless will talk about how LeBron is trying harder to get into the paint and Stephen A. will follow up by just yelling at the Thunder for letting LeBron penetrate the lane.
What good is that?
At the end of the day, it’s pretty obvious that Bayless and Stephen A. wouldn’t be able to fit on the type of show that utilizes proper analysis of sports. But it’s sad when a guest can come on the show even if he is a billionaire genius like Mark Cuban and demonstrate how poorly conceived and produced the show is in less than seven minutes.
Cuban shows us that as an audience we should demand more from the sports media. There are too many articles and shows that feature such trivial discussions that we shouldn’t care.
Furthermore, shows like ESPN First Take are like reality TV in that they have no real substance and there is no point to watching them. All the commentators try to do is stir up controversy because they think that will get you to watch. But, you won’t be any smarter after seeing an episode and you certainly won’t have realized any universal truths about sports.
Next time you find yourself watching Skip Bayless screaming about “pressure” and “playing hard,” do yourself a favor and change the channel. If you want to hear real analysis of the NBA, then watch Inside the NBA. Shaq is an idiot, but Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley actually make insightful and legitimate points.
Otherwise, there’s a better chance that you’ll be able to evaluate a certain game or player on your own or with your friends rather than by watching a show like ESPN First Take.