Athletes-turned-broadcasters have too many conflicts of interest to be fully trusted

Athletes-turned-broadcasters have too many conflicts of interest to be fully trusted


You’re a broadcaster, not a publicist
Image: Getty Images

J.J. Redick is Exhibit A why you can’t trust most former athletes to tell you the truth.

For sure, they have insight into their games that trained sportswriters don’t have. They’ve been out there; reporters haven’t. There’s simply no argument.

Still, most of the time, you will always get a more honest take or opinion about what’s going on from a reporter or writer.

Many athletes are compromised, and have so many conflicts of interest that they can’t keep it real with the fans.

They have played with a player they are critiquing. They played for an organization in the past. Their agent represents a player that should be blasted. They went to the same college or belong to the same fraternity.

The list of reasons why they will sell the fans down the river is too long to list even on the internet.

Often, they will look into the TV camera and flat-out lie to you about what you witnessed seen with your own eyes.

It’s embarrassing.

On Wednesday on ESPN, Redick delivered the worst take in sports TV history after the NBA opened its season on Tuesday night.

Instead of breaking down what’s wrong with the Los Angeles Lakers after their loss to the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors, he chose to do a ridiculous public service announcement that was just plain dumb.

“We should treat (the Lakers) season as a celebration of LeBron’s individual greatness. … Spending all day, every day talking about their deficiencies, that’s not great.”

And with that, Redick should have quit his job on the spot and walked off the set.

In other words, Redick said he doesn’t want to do his job — analyze games. He’s supposed to tell fans at home what happened, and what can be done to correct things moving forward. It was mind-boggling. After one game, he wrote off the season. Did he even think about the rest of the Lakers and the Lakers fans?

What if L.A. wins its next five games? Comical.

There’s plenty of time to talk about James when he does pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time scorer. And there will be plenty of fanfare about the historic moment.

But to throw the towel in on the season after one loss is ludicrous.

In his take, we didn’t hear Redick say he would return all the Lakers’ season ticket money back to fans. His take is why there’s such a turnover among former athletes on TV. They eventually weed themselves out of the business because they can’t offer an honest take.

Charles Barkley is the ultimate exception to the rule. He’s as honest as they come and that’s why so many players dislike the former NBA star.

Barkley has no agenda. He’s not out to protect anyone. He watches what’s happening in The Association and puts it all out on the table.

Best of all, he takes on the biggest and best players. No one is spared. Last season, he called Lakers star Anthony Davis “street clothes” because he’s always injured.

Once, on TNT, after just a horrible half of basketball, Barkley told viewers that the NBA, his league, was “unwatchable.”

It was gold, honest. It was refreshing.

Most would never bash the product, be that honest. After all, they would be afraid that the league would come down on them and potentially remove them from their gig for being negative.

It happens all the time in sports. The analysts and announcers are all in bed with the teams and leagues. Most of the talk is muted, sugar-coated.

You almost never hear national announcers doing NFL games bash coaches for poor game plans or openly say that a player made a bad play or cost their team the game.

It’s not about ripping people just to rip people. It’s about an honest take on the game.

People just want an honest take. If peeps just wanted only the good, team websites would be popular with fans. But they aren’t because fans understand that most are just PR tools. You won’t read anything negative on those sites no matter how poorly a team plays.

Fans would rather read the truth about their teams — even if it’s brutal to hear.

When you hear guys like Draymond Green talk about the new media, it’s code for athletes covering themselves. Basically, it’s athletes covering for each other.

The traditional media would have been out of business a long time ago if fans only respected the opinions of people who played the game.

Fans are smarter than that. Otherwise, they would have thrown in the towel on Redick’s career after he averaged six points during his rookie season in Orlando.



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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.