3 GREAT STORIES: Starring the NBA Finals and Iraq

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

It’s no secret: I love professional basketball.

And I soak in the NBA Finals.

I continue to be heartened by the amount of quality coverage that results from the world’s greatest sporting events. Here are two examples from last week, as well as a shattering photo gallery from the Big Picture:

Spurs make Heat’s Big Three look obsolete in Finals rout (6/16/14, SI.com): Sports commentators and writers are nothing if not prolific.

They can create storylines, react (and often overreact) to results, and draw larger themes from individual examples.

But so few actually do it very well.

Michael Rosenberg has penned some of the strongest analysis of this year’s NBA playoffs, and he does so again here following Game 5 of the Finals, where the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat to win this year’s championship, 4 games to 1.

Rosenberg wisely chooses to look ahead as much as he looks back, comparing the impending free agency of Miami’s star players with their similar summer of 2010, when LeBron James first joined the team. He adds personality and flair but never oversells his points. He simply provides proper analysis of an oft-analyzed franchise.

Love and hate in the LeBron Era (6/17/14, Grantland): Speaking of analysis, I always enjoy when writers try to examine the psyche of the fans as well as a players.

Beyond that, I appreciate when sports reporters remind us of their often foolhardy predictions and statements, which often get proven wrong and are never brought up again.

Andrew Sharp of Grantland hits both notes in this column.

Sharp takes a look at the shifting consensus about LeBron James, who remains the greatest basketball player in the world despite his team’s failure to capture a third straight title. And he uses the debate around James to frame an overall issue with how the Internet breeds a certain style of argument:

It’s obviously a bigger problem than LeBron. We do this all the time. A vocal minority gets amplified by the Internet, it turns into a straw-man argument for smarter people to argue against, and eventually the whole conversation gets dragged to a place where everyone looks bad.

Iraq unrest (6/18/14, The Big Picture): So often, foreign matters prove simply unreachable for American audiences.

At those times, the best way to connect can often be through photos.

They capture a scene in a way that words can’t. And in this case, the editors at the Big Picture bring home the current catastrophe in Iraq with a series of horrifying pictures. The images, collected largely from Reuters, Getty, and the Associated Press, show how adults and children across the country have been affected by its recent events.

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

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