While Minnesota Timberwolves’ guard Patrick Beverley received a media anointing from Ben Strauss of The Washington Post earlier this week in a piece titled “On set with breakout ESPN star Patrick Beverley” (or “On set with Patrick Beverley, the say-anything star of the NBA playoffs,” depending on if you viewed the full link (the latter) or the SEO optimization of it) that included lines like “[Beverley] was proclaiming himself the anti-media star,” the actual public reaction to the incredible amount of ESPN exposure Beverley has received over the past few months has been much more mixed, and much less anointing him as a “star.” And the “Beverley=media star” discourse looks more absurd still after what happened Friday, where Beverley’s appearance on Max Kellerman’s This Just In show produced several uncomfortable minutes of Beverley not engaging with Kellerman’s questions, capped off with this absurd “I don’t understand” dodging of a question on if he thinks Zion Williamson could be the best player on a title-winning team:
Embrace Debate programming requires two or more people to actually embrace the specific debate topic at hand.
Max Kellerman clearly gets a bit frustrated after a few minutes of going in circles with Patrick Beverley. pic.twitter.com/UfKxsadeW5
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) June 10, 2022
It’s completely understandable that a current athlete might not want to get swept up in the theoretical debates that are a large portion of ESPN’s studio programming. But if that’s the case, that athlete should not be regularly going to work on that programming. This is significantly different than, say, Richard Sherman challenging Skip Bayless on First Take in 2013. There are arguments for and against what Sherman did there, but the overall context was with it being his one and only appearance on that show.
By contrast, Beverley has been regularly showing up on ESPN studio programming for most of the past two months. And, as per Strauss, he’s been doing so at a rate of likely only $3,000 to $10,000 per day plus travel and accommodations. That’s not bad in general terms, but it’s significantly less than the $13 million Beverley made this NBA season alone. So this is far from a one-off protest appearance from him at this point. And regardless of how much he says he doesn’t care about landing a regular media role, his actions sure seem to suggest that he does want that kind of gig at the right price, and they definitely refute any claim of him appearing on these shows as a one-off pushback against the shows’ concepts.
Beyond the questionable actions here from Beverley, the other big question is why ESPN keeps giving him these platforms. He’s not a person who’s had anything in particular notable to say to date, with the main thing he’s garnered headlines for being a factually-unsupported attack on Chris Paul (who Beverley has long held a grudge against). And Beverley’s accomplishments as a NBA player are certainly not all that remarkable: he has nine career seasons in the NBA so far (plus time overseas) and has never made an All-Star team, with his most notable award being a single 2017 selection to the league-wide All-Defensive Team. And while there’s maybe a bit of a “What will he say next?” factor inspiring some to tune in, that doesn’t tend to last for long. And it certainly shouldn’t in this case, with almost the only thing Beverley’s said worth any reaction to date the attack on the much-more-accomplished Paul he launched nearly a full month ago.
Players without incredible career accolades can certainly turn into great analysts, but they usually have to work harder to get an opportunity than people with more impressive resumes. And they have to show they’re bringing something new and different to the table. For much of the world, Beverley has not done that so far. And this exchange with Kellerman is the latest example of that. It’s pretty hard to claim “Oh, the whole premise of your show is bad, and I won’t engage with it” when you’re spending your time going wherever ESPN wants you for months on end, including debate shows.
Beverley certainly has no ground to take a principled stand on. And if he really doesn’t want to be in the media, he should just make that decision, and stop showing up on ESPN at every possible opportunity. Or, if he decides he does want a media career, he should lean into that, and not just appear on ESPN shows, but participate in the discussions on those shows. The “I’m too good for this conversation” is certainly an approach, but it’s a particularly funny one to see from Beverley, who doesn’t have a whole lot of accomplishments to lean on and who has proven willing to go wherever ESPN asks for the last few months. So he should either engage in those shows or back out and vacate those spots for the countless athletes who would love to get this kind of national media platform and actually engage with the discussions presented there.
[Awful Announcing on Twitter]