NBA Legacies and Twitter

NBA Perspective: Understanding Greatness in the Twitter Era

3/6/13 in NBA   |   GeorgeMon   |   159 respect

Mar 4, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour (13) reach for a loose ball during the third quarter at the Target Center. The Heat defeated the Timberwolves 97-81. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The speed at which sports move nowadays is unparalleled.

Remember when LeBron James went for 30 points on 60 percent shooting for six-straight games? Yeah, I hardly remember it either. Let me check twitter to refresh my memory.

Oh. Now I remember it. The King’s 30 and 60 stretch was the greatest six games of basketball ever played. What’s that? Kyrie Irving is doing something amazing?

Now Mark Cuban is making outlandish comments? And Kobe just responded by going for 38 points?

Remind me what we were talking about again?

Oh right. LeBron’s 30 points on 60 percent shooting performances from a couple of weeks ago—it was the greatest stretch of baseball in NBA history, and I’ll never forget it.

NBA fan’s live in a new age. For better or for worse, we now live in a time where legacies are written and forgotten the second a player steps off the court. It’s all about the here-and-now. Whatever LeBron does on a nightly basis is the greatest thing to ever happen in the NBA.

I have to admit, there is a certain beauty in being able to check Twitter and instantly find out what the rest of the world thinks about a certain player’s performance, or a sporting event itself. But, has that Twitter mindset affected a basketball fan’s ability to put things in context? In all honesty, has it affected everyone’s ability to put things in context—including the media?

Isn’t that the exact job of the sports experts and talking heads? To put the nightly events of the NBA in some sort of reference frame, spanning a game-to-game basis as well as a larger historical context.

Unfortunately that is not always the case. Everyone’s immediate reaction—even from the media experts themselves—is a ‘that was greatest’ or ‘that was the worst’ performance ever.

Even after LeBron’s magnificent stretch of basketball last month, it took a few days for the sports experts to even mention Jordan’s 10 triple-doubles in an 11 game span, or Wilt going for over 50 points 45 times in a single-season.

I completely understand it—we, as fans, want the era that we live in to be the greatest of all-time. We want to be able to say that we watched the greatest game ever, the greatest player ever, or the greatest team ever. It’s much more difficult, and a lot less fun, to put things into their proper historical reference frame all the time.

No one wants to watch a stellar LeBron James performance and then flock to twitter and write ‘Wow, LeBron had a fantastic game, but it was only the 103rd greatest performance of all-time.’

Keeping things in context is boring, and exaggeration is definitely more fun. The trouble is that if we continue to keep that Twitter mindset when dealing with sports, we risk losing the rich history of the game we love.

If everything LeBron does continues to be greatest thing ever, then game’s greats slowly fade away. Bill Russell will eventual be gone. Oscar Robertson will too. Jordan and Magic and Bird will all disappear. And, even King James himself will be forgotten and replaced by the new greatest player of all-time.

What’s that? LeBron just single-handedly destroyed the Knicks? Now that is the greatest performance I have ever seen--and this time I mean it.

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