By Adam Duerson
My blogging brethren, Mark Bechtel and Mark Mravic, have touched on it, but let me reiterate: God bless uninterrupted sports. When it comes to basketball there are no sweeter words than, “brought you with limited commercial interruptions…”
On Sunday morning Team USA rolled to a 101-70 win (okay, it was a waxing) over China. And not once did NBC cut to commercial, aside for during period breaks. Imagine that: Four uninterrupted quarters of basketball. With just two timeouts per half per side in international competition (the NBA has twice that), developments such as a game-altering 16-3 run by the U.S. during the first half took on a whole new feel. Meaning, there was fluidity, both on the court and in my living room. Sure is nice not to have to find a distraction (a small chore, a magazine snippet, some food preparation) every seven or eight minutes during commercial breaks.
Novel concept, don’t you think, David Stern? Imagine uninterrupted NBA games. Soccer does it, and it’s arguably the best thing about the sport. Suddenly a seven-game playoff series would seem less daunting. November Raptors-Grizzlies games would become bearable.
Certainly there’s a counterargument involving ad revenue, blah blah blah… And, of course the NBA would have to cut down on timeouts to make seamless games feasible. Then maybe some enterprising network could play with the idea of select games shown uninterrupted. Elsewhere on television, ABC ran this Friday’s Nightline -- the one where Bob Woodruff interviewed John Edwards -- with minimal interruptions. Sure they lost some ad time and money, but the end result was a far more engaging product.
Did you notice…
• Early in the fourth quarter Craig Sager introduced us to Mao Zhing, deputy broadcast operator for the Wukesong basketball arena in Beijing. (You may recall this was shortly after Sager had related the story of nine-year-old Lin Hao for what had to have been the 10th time.) Ever heard of an iron, Mao? I’m sure the job’s stressful, but Mao looked like he had rolled his blue button-down into a tight wad, stashed it under Yao Ming’s mattress all night and then pulled it on in the morning.
• Yahoo for crowd reactions! In one shot we caught Henry Kissinger snoozing and Laura Bush yawning. Then the First Lady seemed to catch the camera and gave a giggly, cliché “Oooh! That’s me on TV!” stare. (NBC also smartly spied the Commander in Chief sneaking out with seven minutes left in the fourth and the U.S. up by 34.) Later cameras caught Diana Taurasi picking her teeth and then examining the residue.
• Jim Lampley appeared to be doing his halftime walk-in to a Phelps story during an in-studio windstorm. He struggled to keep his script from blowing off his desk.
• And what a wasted opportunity by Sager, who’s ditched his garish garb for a standard blue Nike polo shirt. I was looking forward to a red-white-and-blue blazer from Mr. Style.