Adam Silver, right at this very moment, is looking at printed-out reports of the TV ratings for the NBA Finals, shaking his head stoically before letting out a dramatic wail, flailing his arms everywhere like a toddler, knocking all the important paperwork off his desk, and beating his desk with his fists while screaming “WHY DID I LET THE MIAMI HEAT, WHOSE MOST COMPELLING PLAYER IS TYLER HERRO, MAKE THE FINALS??????”
And that’s a very good question for him to be asking. He’s the commissioner. He gets to decide who makes the Finals and who doesn’t make the Finals, by manipulating the schedule, injuries, and the referees. Obviously, having the Lakers fake the Finals was a no-brainer; LeBron, even after all these years, is still the NBA’s most prominent superstar. But Silver really messed up with the Heat. Not like he had a ton of good options in the Eastern Conference (No one actually likes to watch Giannis play, The Raptors are in Canada, no way could you reward a city like Boston with a Finals appearance in today’s social climate, etc), but still. The Heat? Whose most compelling player is Tyler Herro?
I know what you’re thinking, and I want you to stop thinking it right now: Jimmy Butler is NOT Miami’s most compelling player. No one actually likes him. They might think he’s good, that he’s a winning player or whatever, but he’s not going to be drawing eyeballs. For one thing, he’s too intense. He’s butted heads with every headbuttable object in his path for the past few years. Everyone knows someone who just has to make everything into a conflict, and do you want to interact with those people? No. Also, he’s lacking in aesthetics; he doesn’t really shoot threes, he doesn’t dunk, and that facial hair. OH MAN. The “I’m just gonna let it grow and see what happens” look is the exclusive domain of homeless people.
Herro has more mass-market appeal, for reasons that are clear and that do not need to be explained. But he’s still just Tyler Herro, just a swaggy rookie who actually isn’t super amazing (yeah, I said it, the higher amount of defensive attention he’s receiving is making everything tough for him and he doesn’t quite have the skills to compensate yet). The NBA can try and hype him up all they want, and it has worked a little bit, but all those casuals out there, the casuals the NBA rely on for ratings, have long since forgotten his 37-point game last series. They need something more consumable than Herro if you wa