You think the NBA's gone too far, wiring the coaches for sound on selected telecasts, and then you realize it hasn't gone far enough. Really, this is only a halfhearted stab when it comes to making the game more entertaining. If you think letting fans hear Jerry Sloan call for the ol' pick-and-roll during a Jazz timeout will arrest the decline in ratings, well, you've never heard Sloan in a huddle, have you?
This isn't going to do it. Of course, you can appreciate the league's desperation. NBC's pro basketball ratings are down 19% from last season, TNT's and TBS's more than 20%. Watching an NBA game on TV, even with the prospect of seeing one of those remote-controlled blimps patrolling arena airspace, has apparently slipped to about No. 12 on our list of preferred sports activities, right between ice fishing and go-kart racing.
But miking these guys is such a lame idea that you can't even feel sorry for the protesting coaches, all worried about their sideline intimacy. First of all, it's not as if their comments are going out unfiltered. The coaches will have on-off buttons, and because they're on tape, whatever they say can be edited by the production crew. So you won't be getting the good stuff. Second, and this is kind of crucial to the whole notion, there is no good stuff.
Larry Brown to Allen Iverson, shooting 2 for 20 on a Feb. 20 NBA telecast: "Keep popping, Allen." And he's a good coach. Here's some more news: Phil Jackson isn't lecturing Kobe about the Lakota tribe during Lakers TOs. This huddle stuff just isn't that interesting. If the fans get to hear what the coaches are really saying, the ratings will go into full free fall.
What the NBA needs to do if it's serious about this idea is mike more colorful personalities than Gregg Popovich. Go all the way. David Letterman goes home to Indiana to coach the Pacers, and the microphone catches him reflecting on his sports drink: "This is useless cold green water." Bill Cosby picks up the reins in Philly and tells the team stories about the old neighborhood. Dennis Miller, bombed from HBO to the Clippers, delivers puzzling rants using impossibly involved metaphors.
Look, Rick Pitino gets entertainer money, yet he clearly fails to entertain. For entertainer money, you should get an entertainer. It's that simple.
What's Seinfeld doing these days, anyway?