The program description for SportsCenter on the digital cable states that it “provides a thorough presenatation of sports news, highlights, and analysis.” The description used to be something along the lines of “a daily collection of dunks, homers, and touchdowns.” This change in description is apt, as SportsCenter has made the shift from being primarily a highlights show to being primarily a news program. It was only ten years ago – perhaps even five years ago – that it was basically guaranteed that you could catch at least some highlights from all of last night’s NBA action. Now, you’ll be lucky if they show clips from three games. It is true thatwith the Internet, the highlights that SportsCenter does not include are still out there. But most Internet highlights are not accompanied with commentary as worthy as a “Boo-yah!” (And Stuart Scott is hardly ever on SportsCenter these days anyway.) What SportsCenter is instead dominated by these days is game day coverage that begins at least a week in advance and covers such topics as the chance that Ben Roethlisberger may, or may not, have stayed out past curfew.
But all is not lost, thanks to the emergence of Blake Griffin. The Clippers’ own personal dunking highlight reel seems to end up on the Top 10 Plays every day that the Clips have a game. He has ensured that SportsCenter will continue to include at least some highlights. His dunks defy analysis; all we ought to do is watch and marvel, and maybe sprinkle in a “Did you see that?!” and a “Boo-yah!” here and there. There has not been a one-man highlight reel on this level since the NBA’s glory days of the eighties and nineties, and there probably won’t be any others any time soon. We’ve got to enjoy it while it lasts, and even ESPN knows that.