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Pierce: NBA Draft makes for terrible TV

Published June 25, 2013 2:39 pm

Television • It's five rather tedious hours that ends with more questions than answers.
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The NBA Draft will be telecast live on Thursday (5-10 p.m. MDT, ESPN), so get the popcorn, find a seat on the couch and ... zzzzzzzzz.

If you can stay awake through this, my hat's off to you.

This will not be scintillating television. Because it lacks everything that makes good TV.

It's not that the draft isn't important. It's not that there isn't intrigue for Jazz fans, what with the team holding three picks (No. 14, No. 21 and No. 46) and the possibility of trades hanging out there.

The problem is that the draft is a little like the finale of "The Voice" or "American Idol" — for every minute of something interesting, there's about an hour of filler. And the NBA can't fill the extra time with singing acts.

Although they might want to think about that ...

The problem is that, as a televised event, the NBA Draft is tough to sit through. For a variety of reasons:

• There's no suspense.

Or very little suspense. Given all the reporting that goes on before the draft begins, there generally aren't a lot of big surprises. Just, maybe a few small surprises.

Or, if you're following on Twitter, there will be no suspense to the telecast at all.

Utah is better at this than most, because team management plays things so close to the vest. But even Utah's surprises tend to elicit reactions like, "Oh," not "Wow!"

• What little suspense there is evaporates quickly.

The big news to come out of any NBA draft is — who is the first pick? By design, the first pick comes, well, first. The rest is anticlimactic.

It would be stupid, but this would be better TV if they made all the picks behind closed doors and announced them last-to-first.

• There's no resolution.

At the end of an NBA game, there's a winner and a loser. At the end of the NBA draft lottery, there are winners and there are losers.

At the end of the NBA draft, nobody knows who the winners and losers are. It's all conjecture. The No. 1 pick could turn out to be the next LeBron James; the next oft-injured Greg Oden; or a bust, like Kwame Brown. And we won't know which it will be for months. Years.

TV viewers are accustomed to watching a show that, in the space of an hour, takes us through a murder, an investigation, an arrest, a trial and a verdict. We don't have an abundance of patience.

• This is the least spontaneous live event you can possibly imagine.

Since the NBA Draft became a Big Televised Event, anything approaching spontaneity has been rehearsed out of it. The league has invited 10 prospective draftees to Brooklyn for the show, and they've all been briefed on what to say. On what not to say, actually.

Everyone tries keep their comments non-controversial. The results is the bland leading the bland for five hours.

This is not the fault of ESPN, which does the best it can to make the draft interesting. But just the way a newspaper reporter can't make your average city council meeting seem exciting because it's not, ESPN can't turn the NBA Draft into an action thriller because there's little action and even fewer thrills.

If you're a Jazz fan, you wouldn't want to skip a live telecast of a game to watch highlights later. But you'd be better of doing that than wasting five hours of your life watching the NBA Draft.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.






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