Write about the game, not the locker room

At of the time of writing, the Boston Celtics are down 2-0 to the Miami Heat in the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals, and last night they got exposed by Miami switching to a zone defense in the third quarter and taking back a 17-point deficit.

In Game One, Bam Adebayo made a clutch, game-saving block that will be an oft-’YouTube’d’ clip for years to come. Last night, in the second half, it became a borderline unwatchable travesty and it ended in a five-point loss.

To make the Finals at this point, the Celtics are looking at needing to win four of the next five, which is daunting, but as we’ve seen in Denver, far from impossible.

After the game, it was reported on Twitter by Gary Washburn, the national NBA writer for the Boston Globe, that Marcus Smart was basically eviscerating his teammates with profanity and accusatory statements (“Y’all on some bulls**t!” sticks out to me). As the dust settled from game two, and the following locker room back-and-forth settled, Celtics players took to social media and press conferences to defend the frosty sixth man and bubble savior.

“Too many bulls**t rumors out there. This group of guys is one of the best I’ve been around. No one can split our family up. Keep fighting and grinding,” wrote center Enes Kanter on Twitter.

“He plays with passion, he’s full of fire and that’s what I love about him most,” Jaylen Brown told reporters after the game.

It was reported by Shams Charania that Brown and Smart had to be separated following game two, and reporter Abby Chin asked Brown and point guard Kemba Walker the same question verbatim in regards to the locker room incident. Brown’s answer can be found above, and Walker? All he had to say was “that was nothing, it’s nothing.”

The team responses bring the question to mind about the intent of sports journalists in 2020. At what point did we stop becoming interested in the overarching storylines throughout the season and only become interested in inter-teammate drama and tabloid-esque, “click-baiting” headlines?

Anyone who calls themselves an NBA fan or writer should know who Marcus Smart is, especially since the pandemic-induced bubble. He was in headlines during his campaign at Oklahoma State for a physical altercation with a fan, and has been known for his tough-nose, defensive style since he came in.

Sort of a guard version of a Dennis Rodman type, with an improved offensive skill set since his time in Boston. We know he’s a fierce competitor.

With Boston being down 2-0, it’s become evident that the “sports” are moving further and further away from “sports journalism” and publications are becoming more of a tabloid or gossip source, as opposed to engaging, analytical journalism.

How many sports journalists have ever been down 2-0 in a series they should subjectively be ahead in, with both of those losses being entirely preventable? In the physical setting they’re in, the stakes of the series being what they are, it’s of no surprise to any former athletes that tempers will be high, especially with a bunch as spirited as this Celtics squad.

The point is, that the fact that Brown and Smart had to be separated and people were yelling and throwing things around the locker room shouldn’t be a surprise to really anyone who has competed in athletics at a high level. It’s not news. If you’re an NBA reporter, you have a responsibility as part of your job to be an engaged fan and watch the game with an analytical eye at the same time.

It’s not easy, but any reporter who’s made it to that level should be able to do so. And if nothing else, I’m sure Kemba Walker would be far more likely to give you a better soundbite than “that was nothing” if you asked him about how they’d attack the zone if they see it again in game three, as opposed to asking him about the predictably fiery actions of a predictably fiery teammate.

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