FS1’s Rob Parker is not here for JJ Redick’s take that this season for the Los Angeles Lakers should be about a celebration of LeBron James’ greatness, as he is set to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, not the team’s deficiencies. Parker believes it’s not fair to the fans and as an analyst, Redick should critique the team and also celebrate what needs to be celebrated.
“Talk about tone deaf and missing the mark on the WORST take on day 1 of the NBA season. JJ Redick, you’re CRAZY! How dare you tell fans they should just care about LeBron passing Kareem. Sounds like a guy who never bought tickets or rooted for a team!”
"Talk about tone deaf and missing the mark on the WORST take on day 1 of the NBA season. JJ Redick, you're CRAZY! How dare you tell fans they should just care about LeBron passing Kareem. Sounds like a guy who never bought tickets or rooted for a team!"
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) October 20, 2022
Parker was obviously being performative and doing a rant for his show “Odd Couple”, but he has a point. Former players turned analysts like Redick are really good at breaking down the intricacies of the game and giving insight, having played in the NBA and knowing exactly what various moments and situations are like.
That type of analysis is extremely valuable and it’s why networks and podcast platforms shell out millions of dollars to hire them. But they do need to also think with the lens of a fan as well.
Passing Abdul-Jabbar is a major accomplishment. Arguably the most important NBA milestone. LeBron will get his due for that and then some. But declaring after one game that fans should focus on that instead of the team after one game is a bridge too far.
Now Redick likely delivered that take for shock value and so that everyone would talk about it, and it worked. But he likely also believes that the Lakers won’t be very good this year and talking about their possible poor play every day isn’t worth it.
But this is where Redick could provide unique value and insight. He’s been on NBA teams with lofty expectations that for whatever reason had roster issues or underperforms. He could let fans into the mindset of players on a team like that, and what the day-to-day is like.
That, however, would require Redick to be critical of players. Some of whom he’s played with and is friends with. Athletes are very sensitive to betraying confidences or letting fans into too much of the locker room. But that makes #NewMedia, a phrase used to describe athlete-driven media, not all that new and interesting.
The Lakers have LeBron, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook (for now), a first-year head coach in Darvin Ham and title expectations. There will be a lot to discuss about this team all season long. A player-turned-analyst like Redick could really do some great work breaking down what is happening, and if he chose could report on behind-the-scenes musings.
Fans would go crazy for that type of analysis and news. But it doesn’t look like that’s the future of #NewMedia. Current and former players would rather serve as PR arms or brand extensions rather than deliver what the fan (consumer) finds most compelling.