The 2011-12 NBA season launched at long last on Sunday following a long lockout and an abbreviated preseason. The much-ballyhooed Opening Day occurred on Christmas Day and the Golden State Warriors got to be a big part of that packed day, playing the night game against the suddenly-powerful Los Angeles Clippers on ESPN. The Warriors came up short in their opener but put on a show in the first half.
ESPN also seemed concerned with putting on a show, albeit a very specific type of show. While TNT opted to go with a classy promo showcasing the storied names and classic rivalries of the NBA's past, NBC paired a driving, contemporary instrumental version of a Christmas carol with some epic footage of just how exciting professional basketball can be. ESPN opted instead for...something else.
Yes, that's a clip of Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes doing a cover of "Little Drummer Boy" intercut with random images of Opening Day matchups. A slightly altered version of this clip was the very first thing that viewers were treated to upon tuning in for the Warriors/Clippers game. I'm assuming most W's fan reacted the way I did, which was by saying "UGH" and then "what," followed by "why is this happening, oh god my senses."
It's the perfect storm of everything that's wrong with corporate synergy and cross-promotion and the slick packaging of young pop stars. I didn't need to see the Bieb clumsily futzing with red-and-green-painted basketballs while doing the worst version I've heard of the worst Christmas song there is. (The only good version of "Little Drummer Boy" is Bowie and Crosby, which is so much better than the source material as to be some sort of put-on.)
It's almost as if ESPN knew that I was excited about the Opening Day matchup and wanted to put on the worst combination of things I could think of as a sort of dare to get me to change the channel. You could have had Lady Antebellum and Eminem doing "Good King Wenceslas." Or maybe Ke$ha featuring Ja Rule with a version of "The Holly and the Ivy" while Ke$ha rolled around slathered in fluorescent paint under a black light. It wouldn't have been as bad as this was.
And yet...I wanted to see basketball more than I hated this minute of grotesqueness. Well played, ESPN. You won the world's stupidest game of "Chicken."
For all information and discussion on the Warriors, or for discussing how much you groaned in those 50 seconds, please visit Golden State of Mind.