Last night, during the Lakers-Clips game, I stumbled upon something wondrous. I think it's been around for a while now - maybe this season, maybe last - I haven't watched enough Lakers to know. Anyway, it's called Courtside Live, and it's an alternate broadcast shown on the other Fox Sports Net channel. It's the game beamed to you from a handheld video camera positioned at court level. That's it. There are no commentaries, hardly any commercial breaks, no obnoxious time-out music. This is cinema verite sports ladies and gents, and it should be the future.
By providing an unvarnished view of the game, without any slam-cut edits, Courtside Live allows you to feel the ebb and flow, the real pacing of a professional baskeball game. It's kind of like watching a movie before the editors have grabbed the raw footage; instead of the freneticism of the usual broadcast, you feel the downtime, the way the players huff and puff on the sidelines and try to regenerate themselves before stepping back out onto the floor. There's a lot of attention paid to the benches and it's a revelation; last night, you saw the players on the Laker bench try to psych themselves up with playful nudges and smack talk. Or Clipper guard Sam Cassell, holding a giant ice pack on his bald pate to cool himself off and re-group.
It feels more like a "you are there" broadcast; Courtside Live shows all of the goofy fan participant time-out games, and most important, the Laker Girls and their tight torsos. You can hear the arena announcer thanking Jack In The Box for its support, or offering two tacos for each fan as a Laker win premium (even though the Clippers played, it was officially a Laker home game). It was, in a word (or two) way cool, as if Fredric Wiseman had decided to direct sports instead of interminably long documentaries about mental institutions. There's only a handful of regular season games left; do check it out if you can.