As a professional sports reporter you’re supposed to know the names of the players you covering, whether it’s the beat you always cover or their opposition on a given night. Just like a US history teacher should know the names of the Presidents or a Politician should know the specific title of a policy he or she is addressing.
I think that’s common sense.
Now, call me crazy, but I ALSO think it’s important you know what the players actually LOOK LIKE.
With football players I get it, the helmets make it tough. You could make a lame case that the same goes for baseball with their hats. Hockey I kind of get because the game moves so quickly — but if you just keep track of how many teeth they’re missing you should be fine.
Either way, that’s what MEDIA GUIDES are for. Oh, and there’s this thing called the Internet that has rosters of every professional sports team. Generally there are even pictures accompanying a player’s bio page. How convenient!
All that aside, none of this should be a problem when it comes to basketball. There are 10 guys on the courts at a time and there are plenty of lulls in the action. Pretty easy to ID the average guys, never mind the players who are actually good.
Which makes this whole thing with Khris Middleton all the more shocking:
I feel like this shouldn’t have to be said, but good God Middleton looks nothing like Jabari Parker. It’s like going up to ZZ Top and asking, “Are you Jimi Hendrix?”
OK maybe that’s a tad extreme, but you get my point.
And I know some people will think, “Oh, he probably just had a brain cramp.” I’ve had brain cramps talking to players or on the air-trying to think of a players name. For some reason I mixed up Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana quite a bit in the MLB offseason. No idea why, but every time I did it I caught myself. Sometimes it took me longer to catch myself than I’d like to admit, but I realized it eventually.
So this reporter calling Middleton, Jabari is definitely someone being unprepared. Is it a big deal in the end, not really — unless he writes a story on Jabari, but accidentally uses quotes from Middleton, thinking he’s talking to Jabari.
Just figure it out, man.
Last thing on this, love how Giannis Antetokounmpo got in on fun. Seemed all too happy to give a reporter a hard time.