Editor’s note: This is my last column for Behind The Buck Pass. I’m leaving to join the Brew Hoop guys as their in-game reporter for the 2012-13 Milwaukee Bucks season and beyond. That means we have a spot open on the BTBP staff! If you’re interested in taking my spot at Behind The Buck Pass, send me a tweet or email. Thanks for reading.
Last August, The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz wrote a column decrying the national and local media’s bloviated, “noun-pacalypse” coverage of Hurricane Irene.
Irene, according to cable news prophecies, should’ve Godzilla’d the East Coast. It quickly morphed into a bad tropical storm upon reaching land. Unfortunately it claimed a dozen lives and flooded a few coastal neighborhoods, but for the most part, did not justify purchasing that extra roll of duct tape.
Kurtz’ overall point was that we live in an age of overhype, even if the overblown issue (pun kind of intended) is a cause for reasonable concern. Quite literally, news coverage never stops, so when things slow down, networks have to find a way to convince you what they’re talking about is serious and deserves the same attention you would normally give to a presidential campaign. Debating speculation is incredibly dangerous when you’re tasked with exposing/reporting on facts.
In many ways, news networks attaching “-acalypse” to every weather story or “-gate” to anything resembling a scandal is not much different than the way sports fans and writers react. Think back to the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to extend Ersan Ilyasova and draft power forward John Henson.
Count me among the writers and fans with arms cocked, ready to fling digital Santorum at the Bucks’ schizophrenic bidding for Ilyasova and treating power forwards like Pokémon. When the figures for Ilyasova’s contract were “leaked” ($40-$50 million), the fan base rabbled with displeasure like the citizens of South Park. Corny David Kahn jokes echoed when Milwaukee selected Henson in the draft.
Why draft a power forward when you’re on the verge of extending one coming off a career-best season? Why bring in another defensive big with skills comparable to two relatively cheap ones already on the roster? Most importantly, what does this say about the current Bucks franchise, and do these moves make the team better now, and in the future?
All of those questions require context; context that is never available within the news and analysis window we often shut after 24 hours. When we were hit with the actual numbers of Ersan Ilyasova’s contract and the Summer League performance of John Henson, it appears a storm thought to be devastating has produced limited damage.
Besmirching our original fears, Ilyasova’s new deal is malleable enough to keep his name in trade discussions and looks like a bargain compared to the backend-heavy deals given to Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, and the obscene money handed out to Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. Plus, it’s unlikely Ilyasova will follow in the broken jalopy footsteps of John Salmons, who John Hammond somehow turned into a trade piece.
Henson was named to the 2012 NBA Summer League All-Star team (along with teammate Tobias Harris), and is increasingly thought of as a major steal at pick 14. It’s dangerous reading too much into Summer League performances, but Henson regularly looked fundamentally sound, athletic, and hungry on both ends of the floor, pessimism be damned.
After all that anxious sweat and angry typing that preceded the acquisitions of Ilyasova and Henson, the Bucks’ offseason hurricane has been downgraded to a frustrating storm. There are concerns aplenty about Milwaukee’s present and future, but Ilyasova and Henson look more like part of the solution than the problem, in one way or another. They may not be as good as we would like, but they’re definitely not as bad as we’ve come to expect.