The remarkable success of Steph Curry and the Warriors has led to plenty of critics coming out of the woodwork, and the latest one is Chicago Tribune special contributor Bernie Lincicome. In a staggeringly-dumb column titled “Routine of 3-pointer dulls the senses, and makes basketball duller,” which really would be more accurately titled “Old man yells at cloud,” Lincicome argues that three-point shots aren’t for “real” basketball players:
Let’s start with the truth. The 3-point shot was created for people who couldn’t play basketball. It was made for people who couldn’t grow tall enough, dribble well enough, drive hard enough or move fast enough.
It was for the last kid picked on the playground. The one who pushed his glasses up his nose. The one who wore black socks in gym class. The 3-point shot was made for you and me.
Like other well-meaning props — instant replay, artificial turf and social media — it got out of hand, doing more harm than good, or as the French say “faire plus de mai de bien.”
I don’t know if the French really say that. In fact I know almost nothing of what the French say, but, like the 3-point shot, pretension is worth a little extra.
Lincicome’s argument here is really pretty laughable; suggesting that three-point shooting isn’t a skill is absurd, as is saying that a unique athlete like Steph Curry is like “you and me.” Curry literally had to be toned down in a video game because he’s too good in reality, and the critics are mostly just looking for self-interested reasons to trash him and/or viewing their own time and philosophies with rose-colored glasses. There isn’t much here in the way of a substantive case, and Lincicome’s piece shouldn’t be seen as anything more than pure trolling.
What’s less funny is that trolling-for-attention arguments like this poking holes in any sort of success do their job, though. They’re “controversial!” They get that attention, and clicks, and reaction, and even if 90 per cent of the reaction is negative, that’s still profit for the media company putting these out there. Of course, it’s not always great for a newspaper to be known for these kinds of hot takes, which is why it’s even better for them to come in from readers, leading to things like the Cam Newton letters and the plausible deniability there (“we’re just starting a conversation!”). If the readers aren’t fiery enough, though, columnists and special contributors like Lincicome will do.
That’s not just a print journalism thing, either, but a growing trend across all media. In a world where First Take, the original bastion of this approach, has “positively affected the ESPN brand” thanks solely to its ratings, where former First Take czar Jamie Horowitz is running Fox Sports and pushing that quest for virality over substance, and where Clay Travis is “swimming in gold dubloons” thanks to his haters, it’s becoming more and more clear that being loud and controversial is more important than being nuanced and thoughtful. This is especially true when it comes to bashing the successful, which appears to be a magnet for clicks and attention. The Chicago Tribune‘s just the latest to embrace that trend, and they won’t be the last.