In his Thursday morning chat with the media on Zoom, always candid Lakers forward Jared Dudley was asked about his thoughts on the lack of crowds for the NBA restart in Orlando, and whether or not the league should be worried about fans hearing everything that’s said on the court in gyms that will be quieter than normal.
Dudley said no, and that he actually sees this as an opportunity for the NBA. Let’s let him explain why.
“If I was the NBA, I know obviously there is some inappropriate language at times — throughout most of the game there’s not — I would have a camera so (fans at home) could hear,” Dudley said.
“We don’t have a crowd, so what’s one thing we can give you guys that we’ve never been able to give you guys before? And that would be the in-game experience of (hearing) trash talking, hearing ‘Bron talk to refs, hearing James Harden when it comes to how he’s trying to get a call from the ref,” Dudley continued. “When you have trash talk with (Patrick Beverley) and other people, I think fans are intrigued by that. I think they want to hear what people have to say. I think it can bring excitement, so I’m not worried about it.”
I think nearly everyone reading this blog can get behind that. After all, Dudley’s right. While most will focus on the salaciousness of the trash talk — and trust me, I want to hear what LeBron really thinks about Patrick Beverley, too — it would also be really cool to hear which players talk the most on defense, who argues with refs the most and who is the most encouraging to their teammates (and who isn’t). It all would be fascinating, and with the NBA looking for revenue anywhere it can find it, finding a channel to stream such a feed on and charging extra for it would seem to be a win-win for the league and its most die-hard fans.
The counterpoints that people will make to this are obvious. “Won’t someone think of the children? What if my son calls me the f-word because he learned it from LeBron, and definitely for only that reason? What about the harm to the players’ brands if we (gasp) hear how they actually talk?”
Dudley isn’t that worried about any of that, because he thinks the benefits will outweigh the negatives.
“I have kids also, and they’ve heard a curse word here and there, and they know what’s right and wrong. Through the heat of the moment it happens, but I think this is a great opportunity to give fans and media an inside look at what really goes on in the NBA game,” Dudley said.
And he’s right! When did our priorities become so out of whack? We live in a strange, faux-puritanical dystopia where curse words cause shudders and fainting spells, but systemic racism and inequality has been allowed to thrive for centuries. Your kids hearing NBA players using colorful language is not our worst moral conundrum at this point.
I will grant that maybe Disney wouldn’t want the image of NBA players cussing each other out at Disney World on ESPN airwaves in the middle of the day, and that this is slightly different than “The Last Dance.” But couldn’t the league do something similar to what ESPN did there? Have a cursing feed and a non-cursing feed for those who are offended, or don’t want their kids to hear the language? And if players don’t want to be heard using certain language, they can just choose different words.
Whether its those solutions or different ones, this would seem to be something pretty easy to figure out, so let’s hope common sense prevails, because I think we can all agree that an uncensored NBA feed would be incredible. It’s hard to assume it’s the most likely outcome at this point, but Dudley is a true man of the people for arguing for it.